Sunday, June 20, 2010

Command Screen - FAIL

As a Lieutenant Commander, I assumed command of Naval Security Group Activity Yokosuka, Japan (a Commander command) in January 1997 from LCDR Eric Newhouse (the interim CO). The CO previous to Eric had been relieved 6 months earlier, after failing two successive Inspector General inspections.

The letter on the right arrived after I had been in command for 23 months and a few days before I put on Commander. Twelve years later, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth - as you can tell.

I was not completely surprised by the letter because a Lieutenant from BUPERS had called two weeks earlier to inform me that I had "FAILED TO SCREEN FOR COMMAND". What did surprise me was the fact that I had failed to screen for command - a job that I had held for two years, already.

Thankfully, I didn't lose my day job. I post this letter for those who have had to deal with the pain of "Failure of Selection" - whether it be for promotion, command or some other program you desperately want. It's a very painful and emotional thing. One which we try very hard to comprehend. No one ever explained how I failed to screen for a job I already had and was ranked #1 at. A year later, I "successfully screened" for the assignment that I had been doing for 35 months.


General Quarters said...

Good career advice and reminder that all is not lost, regardless how it may seem at the time.

"Don't give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks."

Captain James Lawrence
Commanding Officer, USS Chesapeake

General Quarters said...

"Don't give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks."

Captain James Lawrence

Anonymous said...

I failed to select for LDO twice (note: I am not in a CT) However, I was selected for CPO and SCPO on my first looks and anticipate being selected for MCPO next year.

What makes me bitter is when the LDO board selects very junior E6s that have between 8-10 yrs in service that do not have a broad breath of their rating.

I am currently "working" for a LT LDO who is an absolute failure and just doesn't "get it." He'll probably make CDR one day...Only does the military breeds this type of mediocrity within it's managers.

The corporate world would see this guy fail because the civilians do not have the equivalent body called "The Chief's Mess" to make sure their "leaders" do not fail.

I'd love to let this type of "leader" fail but I would not be a good CPO if I did.

BM1 (SW) Alvarez said...

It takes courage to reveal your failures. Thanks for posting this Captain. I hope I never have to experience this but as some point we all 'fail'. I'll try to be ready.

XO said...

I think the board got it right the first time.

Anonymous said...

The unfortunate part is as the Navy's "fair and transparent" system of selecting officers for promotion or milestone assignments is beyond broken and antiquated. FAIL. We have used the same system of selecting officers for promotion and training Naval Aviators since the time of wooden ships and iron men.

The "new" Fitness Report and EVAL system has been gamed so much that selection boards can only look at the "most best qualified" through the lens of "zero defect" versus "quality." The two terms by NO means are synonymous. Officers that may look zero defect on paper in the tank during promotion board proceedings may not be a quality officer in real life, and one not worthy of selection to senior grade or milestone tours. Because of this, unfortunately, top talent which is not "zero defect" at a board but very much a quality officer in real life will FOS every single time and end up on the cutting room floor.

Reporting Seniors and Commanding Officers have a moral responsibility NOT to game the FITREP and EVAL system and sign their names to reports that truly represents the performance of the Officer during the reporting period. Gaming the system in order not to "tank" someones career or to play games with Reporting Seniors Averages in order to tank someone's career is not in accordance with Navy Core Values. Shame on those who have done this in the past and are doing it now.

It will be nice one day to be able to look at selection board results and be able to look at the selectees and be able to know their peformance has had tangible results and made our Sailors and Navy better and they are worthy of the senior grade or milestone position. But until RS's and CO's do the right thing on these reports, year after year we will look at the released lists and say "How in the Hell did X select for promotion/CO-XO/milestone? That guy can hardly tie his shoes!"

My 0.02.

Anonymous said...

"My 0.02."

Well said.