Saturday, April 20, 2013

A few words about those not selected to IWO Captain by this year's promotion board

This is a repost of my April 2010 note.

We have gone through another very challenging selection board cycle for promotion to Information Warfare Officer Captain and selection means a great deal of joy and satisfaction to an absolutely outstanding group of selectees, their families, friends and Shipmates. It also means that there is a group of sadly disappointed non-selects and those who are close to them, as well. The joy for the selectees is as normal as the grave disappointment is to the non-selects. This is an extremely painful time for a few of the non-selects who were “selects” on everyone’s list but the actual selection board’s. There are two or three (not usually more than that) superb candidates for selection who are somehow set aside in the crunch and “seemingly” lessor candidates make it on the “select” list. This is all understandable and usually unavoidable. Our selection board members are faced with a nearly impossible job and they do a masterful job in selecting the right individuals capable of providing the senior leadership our community needs to lead us in the future.

Our most senior leadership has the very painful and absolutely unpleasant job of letting the non-selects know what their status is, at least 48 hours (Note: the 48 hr notification is no longer required. In the information age, the word gets out too fast and most candidates learn of their selection or non-selection from some unofficial source) before the official message list is released. This requires some extraordinary planning by the Flag staffs and has to be well coordinated. These non-selects are as important to the future of our community and have contributed to the “past success” of the community as much as the “selects” have, some perhaps even more so.

These people deserve SIGNIFICANT senior officer attention, but rarely get it. It's tough! Speaking the absolute truth about an individual's true potential for selection to Captain is a difficult discussion to have. But, that discussion has to fit into that 25% of the time that Admiral Stavridis says should be devoted to taking care of people. (His paper about how he spends his time is HERE.)

Those selected for promotion will get plenty of attention. Accolades will come in from around the world. The selects deserve your congratulations, but the non-selects deserve your significant attention, counsel, and understanding. These fine men and women are confronted by feelings of failure and betrayal by the system (Navy) to which they have devoted 20+ of the best years of their lives. It does not mean they are failures or that they have been betrayed. But that doesn’t matter, that is what they feel. We need to reach out and talk to each and every one of these people before the message hits the street. Perhaps some of them had no possible chance of being selected. That doesn’t matter on the day the list comes out. There are juniors and seniors who honestly thought that “their” O5 was worthy of selection to O6 (Captain).


Anonymous said...


Your ARROGANCE is astounding. STFU.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:05,

I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:05 and 10:24,


Anonymous said...

SC in VA from 10:24,

Could not agree more.

Anonymous said...

Who is Mike?

Anonymous said...

Mike is the one who did the post.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you put your name on your post when you tell someone to STFU.?

General Quarters said...

People who experience a degree of success during careers with large hierarchical organizations like the Navy often attribute it solely to their personal efforts. Conversely, they believe (privately) that those who did not promote with them somehow fell short. It is my experience, first as a career naval officer, then later in the private sector, that personal merit is about 50% of the story, political acumen 25%, and pure good fortune 25%, particularly at higher levels. For private sector entrepreneurs it may be more like 75% personal merit and 25% good fortune.

Good fortune and politics are particularly underestimated as prominent factors in naval officer promotion. Who has had a top notch subordinate who covered your ass nicely when he could have just let you fall flat? Who had a boss who didn't pull the trigger when he could have and put you out of your misery? Who has committed a career ending offense but just never got caught? Or got caught red-handed, but managed to have it covered up? Who just happened to work for a rock star and got pulled along in his wake, a member of the posse for life? Who was in a protected species category? Whose daddy was a major political donor, etc?

If you promoted to the next level, remember all that with a little genuine humility before you make the patronizing phone call, because you might actually be speaking to the better man. If you didn't make it, be kind to yourself and know with certainty that you have exciting opportunities awaiting you apres Navy, should you decide to go ashore.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Thanks GQ. Well said.

stephen said...

Concur with GQ

Ladies and gentlemen, there is life after the service. It is great and wonderful and good also.

I do not care how good or wonderful you are in the Navy, even the CNO has to hang it up sometime.

Remember: this is America! The face you tell off today may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.

Dave C said...

I don't know Mike Lambert from Adam, but enjoy his blog. To show up and insult in series, or more likely as an individual echoing and complimenting your own posts, is pretty bad form.

You stay classy "Anonymous".

Dave C

11 Steps to LCDR said...

To the owner of the first anonymous comment, shame on you.

What is truly ASTOUNDING is that you felt it necessary to complete your rebuttal with a profane abbreviation. Are you from the IW community do you know Mike personally? It sounds like you do; I mean you called him by his first name. CAPT Lambert likely wrote his essay from a place he well knows. He obviously struck a nerve with you, and you have every right to disagree with him and if moved to comment appropriately. Since I can assume you do know him I think you owe him the decency to reveal who you are, otherwise, in the future, take your own admonishment and repeat it until it sinks in.

Personally, it is because of people like CAPT Lambert, that I continue to serve:

Between 1991 and 1994 I sat in a field house on Ft. Meade seven times taking the CTR1 exam. When the results came out, I was consoled by everything from, “You’ll make it next time…” to “What did you expect?!”

However, the real kick in the stomach came in 1998 when I was standing before the a hundred onlookers being awarded Senior Sailor of the Quarter for the second time in a year, only to be followed by the announcement of those selected for Chief that year…

One by one the names were announce, first those that were no longer at the command, then those that were – each Selectees was brought down front to be congratulated. I was not one of them.

As I stood there looking at the floor feeling as if someone just punched me in the chest, my little plaque and savings bond in hand, feeling about as low as a sailor could feel, I was jolted by one firm hand-shake after another from members of the Goat Locker as if each were saying, “Don’t you dare let give them the satisfaction!”

For me, Master Chief’s Berger and Dorr will forever be the epitome of Navy Chiefs. It is because of them I did get promoted the next year, but more importantly, it because of their support after that awful award ceremony that I continue to serve to this day.

This summer I will move up in rank for 10th time, I am both proud and humble.

So, feel free to disagree with CAPT Lamberts posts, God knows many people do, but have the decency to keep your comments respectful or have to courage to attach your name.

LT Shane Jaeger

stephen said...

Agree with LT, GQ and THE CAPTAIN:

As a vet of two services and growing up in a third, how can I put this:

"You are only as good as your worst private."

Sean Heritage said...

Well stated, Shane!! We are glad you remain persistent and a valued member of our team.

GQ - Couldn't agree more with your percentages!!

nick said...

I find this article to be very honest and useful, obviously unlike some others that have posted here. I am an LDO and see the jockeying going on for persons trying to get selected for CAPT. Problem is in the way that I see it, is that in the Jockeying position they forget to do what they are supposed to be doing and what got them to where they are.
I work on a small 60 person Admirals staff and see things daily, both inside and outside the command.

We do have many arrogant people, and I admit I would probably be classified by some as the same, but that is where we live. If you are considered an SME, than you are an SME and have something to keep up and to keep proving.

There was no arrogance in this post. If people fail to select, then they fail to select. Some is politics, but most is because they got too damn complacent and did not want to diversify. Plain english, no misinterpretation here. If you want to succeed in the Navy, then you will have sacrifices along the way. Maybe you cannot stay in Norfolk for your whole career. WAAAAH.. get out and do something.

ARROGANCE is often confused with knowledge and confidence which should be the focus of this conversation, but alas, whiners prevail and hide behind the "anonymous" sign. You are freaking cowards and do not belong in MY NAVY.

Keep speaking the truth CAPTAIN LAMBERT, many will benefit. Unfortunately, many will whine also...

LT NICK PECCI, 6490 proudly signing this email and not hiding my identity.

blunoz said...

I thought this was an excellent post, and the principles contained therein are applicable across the Navy - not just to the IW community and not just to O-6 promotion boards.
In the submarine force, it is more applicable to XO Screening and then CO Screening. Chances are, if you've served as a submarine XO without screwing anything up, then you'll get promoted to O-5. Similarly, if you served as a submarine CO without screwing anything up, then you're probably going to get promoted to O-6. The XO and CO screening boards are where you really see the shock and disappointment for those who failed to screen.
It has been a very humbling experience for me. I have seen good friends who I considered much better submariners, harder workers, and better leaders than me fall by the wayside, not screened for XO. I have seen some take it very hard and bitterly disavow any connection with the submarine force, and I have seen some who roll with the punches and move on. In both cases, I have seen them choose new career paths where they are doing important work for our national security. As you wrote, it is absolutely essential that we continue to mentor officers who didn't make a career milestone but still have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to contribute to accomplishing the Navy's mission.
I'm thankful for a shipmate recommending your blog. Keep up the good work.


blunoz said...

See also Chap's post on this topic.

Tommy Boy said...

well said best advice and guidance on this topic I have ever read. Thanks for re-posting.