Sunday, March 7, 2010

Loss of Confidence

Yesterday, I received a thoughtful note from one of my fellow former Commanding Officers on the subject of Navy Commanding Officers being relieved for 'loss of confidence'. The writer suggested that the relief of these COs should be described in Public Affairs releases as ...

"Captain Smith was relieved for violating the sacred trust placed in him/her by superiors and for trampling upon the leadership covenant with our Sailors. We deeply regret the error of selecting this individual for command and will endeavor to do better in the future. Regret the inconvenience and damage this may have done to your careers and the image of our Navy." "Please carry-on."

Senior Member, Command Screening Board

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful. I applaud ISICs holding their COs accountable. I often wonder why so few NNWC/CNSG COs are relieved. Are we doing a better job of screening our COs, is our bar for success lower, or are we less willing to hold our COs publicly accountable? Realize it was not a CO, but an XO punches a fellow member of the wardroom in the face and there is no documentation? That Officer is "punished" with an early PRD to a JDAL billet and a promotion to the next paygrade!?!? What happened in NIOC TX last year to their previous CO?

I'm not a bitter sailor said...

You'll have to ask Captain Greg Hawes the real story because he is the guy who relieved D. Davis without a ceremony. Davis still made Captain and is in DC on some major staff. Don't know what he did but it was bad enough for him to not get an end of tour award and no change of command ceremony. Not bad enough for them to stop him for being a Navy Captain. But then, we have a bunch of nuts who are Captains. He's one among many.

stephen said...

After which the senior member will commit seppuku in a public place to atone for his lack of judgment....

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

When I was a young Sailor I knew that all my Commanding Officers were God. When I shipped over the second time I still knew my CO was God. When I became COB some years later I thought I was God’s assistant. There has been a lot of water under the hull since those days and many an old Sailor is highly disappointed in this lack of confidence thing, many of us are now agnostic because our God is not what we thought he/she was. The selection board should do more than endeavor they should insure only the best and most qualified are granted a command.

Very Respectfully,
Navyman834

Anonymous said...

The question is: How can the screening board truly know who to select and who not to select? Even at the level of selection to flag, where the field gets exceedingly narrow, not everyone is known personally to members of the board. Screening Surface officers at the 11-12 year mark means 80% or more of the officers being screened aren't known by members of the board, simply because they haven't been around long enough. Thus, you have a board member making a decision based solely upon Fitness Reports. Having been in the tough position of writing a FITREP on a mediocre officer before, I can tell you that no one likes to write a negative FITREP. I'm certain there are people who can, but I've never met them...no one wants to be "that guy", putting a bullet in the head of another officer's career. There's always the hope that the officer will "come around" or "improve over time"...so we give them good FITREPs and roll them on to their next assignment. This is how we get officers who cannot drive ships and who couldn't lead their way out of a wet paper bag in command...they've gotten through the system because no one above them had the fortitude to say: "No, this guy doesn't have what it takes..." You have officers being selected for command within a year (or so) of leaving their Department Head tour. Some of these guys have served on a whopping two ships...and did a "NOB" shore tour at some place like NPS. But if they have a couple (literally a couple) of COs who aren't willing to write a negative FITREP, they'll be screened for command...and the results will be the same as what we've seen. In fact, I predict that the quality of COs will go down in the next decade since we're screening officers so early...but that's just my opinion. I'll be on the sidelines, observing, but I can't see the quality of officers increasing over the next few years because there’s nothing in the system that can turn a mediocre officer into a stellar one sitting on shore duty for five or six years before heading out to their command tour...Just my two cents...

Anonymous said...

Holding the screening board accountable for selecting an incompetent CO has a certain degree of justice in it but not sure it will make a difference. All the board has done, especially in the case of CDR Command, is select those individuals that they feel are "best qualified" to command based of FITREPs, service reputation, etc. How that individual will exercise his/her command authority is a different issue.

Let me tell you, from personal experience, that early in the first command tour you come to a realization that you really are on your own when making decisions. Most COs adapt to this (the good ones thrive on it) but a few become risk adverse or fear that a subordinate will wreck their career. These folks develop into either screamers or the Commodore's "yes men".

That said, there's no excuse for the Major Command (O-6) Board sending the indecisive or the tyrants back to command. C-dore 14

Anonymous said...

That would be awesome, along with a look at any of the careers that took a hit for serving subordinate to a sub-par CO.

I echo the sentiment on FITREP's (& EVALs for that matter), as way too few RS's are willing to write what should be written; even more DIVO's & DH's are unwilling to do counseling statements when someone takes their first steps on the path to sub-par performance. Time and time again at XOI or Mast you hear 'this Sailor has a history of ....' but there is no documentation to back it up. If FITREPs & OSRs/PSRs are going to be the primary tool used by the boards (promotion, command screen etc), a simple statement of suitability for command isn't too much to write.

Anonymous said...

I was recently approached by a member of another community who state..."My flag has an IWO working for him who he wants to ensure never has command. What does he need to put in the FITREP?" The good was that he purposely wanted to influence the career of the officer, the bad is that he wanted to be cryptic and was unwilling to get straight to the point. Not recommended for command!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Bitter - Heard RUMINT today that although selected he will not be allowed to promote.

Anonymous said...

The lack of public disclosure concerning whatever allegations this officer is accused of is as suspicious as the various terms used by the Navy and media in general as to Captain Reavey's status while undergoing the investigation. I know this gentleman as an officer, parent and community member and he stands above board in every respect. However, I am also aware of some shadowy activities within his former command that suggest to me that he may have been the victim of a setup by members within his own organization. Personally and professionally, I lean towards that conclusion and doubt if whomever the Admiral sent to invesigate has a clue. If my suspisions are true and I pick up any scuttlebutt later down the line, I damn sure will pursue this for the Skipper for all it is worth. That's what decent people do.

Anonymous said...

Talking about Davis not Reavey

NIOC TX alum said...

Getting fired in the Navy for unethical behavior does not preclude the commercial world from hiring a person and giving them a significant position. S. Davis is a good example of that. The stigma of unethical behavior doesn't follow you.