Monday, March 5, 2012

Award Rant

In my mind, having your boss ask you to write your own personal award and FITNESS Report is akin to her telling you to write yourself your own 'thank you' note for your good deed or after your two/three year assignment.  It makes no sense at all to me; don't do it.  If you are a leader and you can't write your immediate subordinate's award/fitness report, shame on you.

This is something that is actually getting some attention in Congressional sub-committees of the Senate/House Armed Services Committees (SASC/HASC).  With the attention given to the Stolen Valor Act and similar issues - the Congress is paying much more attention to military awards - who gets them, how they get them, why they get them and how many get them.


Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...

Completely agree. But, what if he/she won't? Does it make sense to punish yourself and your chances to promote? How about some guidance come from on top to the bosses? The good ones listen anyway, but the bad ones won't listen or learn unless their superior tells them to.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat,

Sea stories:
- My boss wrote my first tour award as a LT. He was a legend in the community.
- When I left my OIC job at NSGD Barbers Point, the CO forgot to submit an award. CINCPACFLT (DNSGPAC)reminded him after the fact and presented the award later.
- When I left command at NSGA Yokosuka, the XO forgot to submit the award in time for COC. CINCPACFLT offered to present a 'dummy award' at the COC. I declined.
- Left JCS without an award because I did not write my own.
- Left OSD without an award because I did not write my own.
- Retired after 30 years service without an award because I did not write my own.

I don't believe an award has much impact on promotability. Awards didn't mean anything at either the selection board I sat for promotion or lateral transfer to our community.

Commander-Submarine Ordnance LDO, Ret said...

The Navy awards program lost any remaining credibility when the door was opened in the 90's allowing CO's to award NAMs while lowering the approval authority for many other awards. Before I retired I saw petty officers with six or seven NAMs with even a few NCMs thrown in. I recall one young female MS3 being awarded a NCM at our command from her previous command in Pearl Harbor for nothing more than doing her job per the citation that was read. Then I look back at my boot camp company book and see CPO's with twenty years service with one or two NAMs. This move toward "recognizing" our Sailors did more to cheapen truly deserved awards previously given than one can begin to understand.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are bitter to me.

CWO4 Brian Ashpole, USN (Retired) said...

With nearly 30 years Navy service, I never once wrote myself an award - I provided bullet style inputs when asked (on two occasions), however, I thought that "self promotion" was egotystical (hope I spelled that big word correctly).
I received my first personal award (a NAM) as a CTRCS with 15 years service. After that it got kind of out of control with 2 specific NCMs and 4 "end of tour" NCMs.
The medals are now in a shadow box and the citations are filed away for safe keeping so that my grandchildren can some day read about their grandfather long after he's been called home.

Commander-Submarine Ordnance (Ret) said...

To Anonymous.

No, I'm not bitter at all. I did not like seeing the Navy follow the army and air force in bestowing medals upon personnel who did not meet the original criteria for these medals. Just recall the Iraq War where a Navy Times front page declared the Air Force had awarded more Bronze Stars than the USMC. I was stationed at USSTRATCOM at the time and remember the embarrassment of some of the AF officers and enlisted when this article appeared. Can any rationally thinking individual believe that more AF personnel should have been awarded Bronze Stars when compared to the USMC. The USMC, to its credit, has kept to the standard more than the other services. When you see a Marine's personal awards, you can put much more trust in the fact he earned them and they were not just "recognition" from a transferring command.

Joe Sullivan said...

I know of 5 personal awards that I was "put in for" and never received and it didn't bother me at all. But, I am most proud of the fact that every one of my sailors that I wrote an award citation on got those medals. Always figured that was my job as a Chief and supervisor: take care of the troops and make sure they got the credit they deserved.

Retired AC1 said...

I submit that there may, just may, be a correlation between this mindset and the number of senior both O's and E's getting fired. Do you think the Navy has abandoned adult supervision?

Justin Rogers ENS, USN (1170) said...

Hooyah Chief Sullivan!!! A top priority is to take care of our Sailors.

Anonymous said...

don't get me started on the USAF....E5's with MSM's and DMSM's are a daily thing you can see at most intel. sites.....BSM's if they "deploy"......

Anonymous said...

Awards are bullshit. Plain and simple.
Napoleon had it right - a man will sell his soul for a colorful piece of ribbon.

Robert Maguire said...

"If you are a leader and you can't write your immediate subordinate's award/fitness report, shame on you."

Actually, I would have been happy if I got a well-written brag sheet out of my Sailors. Many times I wasn't happy.

I didn't expect my shipmates to write their FITREPs for me (though some did provide that depth of input...and I took it).

I particularly didn't expect them to write their end of tour award. I used their FITREPs for that. But, as happened many times, if they couldn't be bothered to provide me with a good FITREP input, well, shame on them.

A long time ago, I was told that, at the end of the day, only one person would truly remember my It was up to me to accurately document those accomplishments.

I considered it a sign of respect for my seniors that I didn't make them run around digging out what I had done the entire year.

Jim Murphy said...

There are a lot of problems with the Navy awards program, and one of those is paygrade requirements people have placed on awards that do not appear in the instruction.

A few cases in point. I was put in for an NCM for saving the life of a Shipmate but not at the risk of my own. That is a specific requirement of an NCM. I was awarded a NAM because I was only a frocked PO3. My SCPO fought back because he got an NCM for the very same action years previous, from the same command. I didn't like the unfairness of this 'rule' being applied, but at the end of the day (and at the end of a career), I saved a Shipmate's life, and that's all the gratification I need. That NAM is still the most prized award from 21 years of service and among nine personal awards.

Second example, I recommended a PO3 for a Navy-Marine Corps Medal for saving the life of a Shipmate at the risk of his own life. Clearly he met the qualifications for that medal. Again, the same echelon II command downgraded the award to an NCM because of the recipient's paygrade. And again, this Sailor did the right thing because it needed to be done, not because he expected an award or any other recognition.

Last example, many commands (rampant among CT commands) give PO1s-SCPO (often MCPO) an NCM end-of-tour award...that's the standard. PO2/PO3 get NAMs, lower grades get Flag letters. You have to go to NJP or fail a PRT to break that rule and be "downgraded."

Actual accomplishments and awards manual instructions rarely play a part in determining the proper award in some communities.

Anonymous said...

There is far too much focus on awards in the Navy, and most of them are given to Sailors for basically doing their jobs. The administrative overhead and backslapping or backstabbing are burdensome and unhealthy distractions from doing the core business.

Bob Moseley, USN (Ret) said...

At my last active duty command, during the early stages of OEF and right after the invasion of Iraq, I recall the J2 gathering us to discuss a number of things, including awards submissions. He stated that "the Commanding General has been given Bronze Star awarding authority...this doesn't happen all the time". So Bronze Stars it was. We had several people who were awrded multiple BS, including one Army O5, who received 5. Army, Air Force made out big time, Navy and Marines not so much, as the rules in play at the time added some scrutiny to the process and made it more difficult for those folks to receive such an award. Everyone did great work but in most cases,a BS was a bit too much. My son did 3 combat tours in Iraq as a cavalry scout, saw lots of action, and the highest award he received was an Army Commendation Medal with a Combat "V". Rates a bit higher in my book than an administrative BS.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, whiners about awards are probably those that rightfully didn't receive them. I gave EOTs when deserved (most submariners deserved), event awards on the spot, and I loved giving out Command NAMs - especially to help some of the enlisted with Exam points. During my first command tour, I had limits on NAMs...I exceeded those limits every year. During my second/third command tours, I had no limits and issued them when I felt they were deserved. Until the Navy issues an order fleet wide NOT to issue awards, you are reducing morale and hurting your people by not issueing the awards.

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...


That's good to hear. I wrote my enlisted folks awards when I was on a submarine, but it was the expectation that junior officers write their own awards. It's sad, and it took me a while to unlearn that. Now that I am the senior IW officer at our detachment, we are interviewing people and writing them a decent PIM before they leave, so the command will have plenty of writeup to turn into an award. My hope is that between that and quarterly interviews, our command can get into the habit of writing it's own people's awards and not asking them to write their own.

Anonymous said...

Why do people need awards for doing a good job? Is this like the Boy Scouts? In principle, the satisfaction for a job well done should be all the reward that one needs. Obsequious kiss-assers and Santa Claus COs should stand aside with the Boy Scouts, or get back to real work.

Anonymous said...

CAPT Lambert-

I "stole" the first two sentences of your blog post and made it the signature block on my e-mail.

I couldn't have said it any better, Sir.

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Anon @ 2:30 PM

Just FYI, the Navy prohibits using ANY kind of tagline in your e-mail.

Don't want to cause you any trouble.

Anonymous said...

After 12 years, I submitted for my EOT with plenty of time to spare. I submitted over 10 rewrites in response to requests from my LPO.

I was getting out of the Navy and working on my Master's thesis at the same time. 12 years of never taking leave meant I had plenty left to spend on completing research, which I did.

That did not stop my chief from calling me in from leave to try to fix it the week it was due according to command instruction. I was too busy to come in.

When I got back, I nearly had a heart attack. There, on my desk, was the writeup with the words "change font size" on it.

That was it. No other corrections. A whole week waiting on ME to change cfuking font size!

I called my chief on his laziness and he did what all chiefs do: blame the person with the problem.

The conversation did not end well. I was threatened with mast, called lazy and a poor planner, and belittled for talking endlessly with no point.

The Div-o saw no problem with this. She took him up on his suggestion to deny EOT based on my "failure to comply" in a timely manner.

I failed to do my superiors' job in timely manner. This much is true.