Saturday, March 15, 2014

Executive Officer Tip # 2013-091 - A little about awards

What does an MSM mean if the #1 CO and the #10 CO share the same level of award?  What does it mean to award an MSM to the #1 CO at the O5 level, if LCDR AOs on the staff get the same award? Our awards process is out of order.  Nearly all can see it and agree to it but who will fix it?  No one !  How many officers are still writing their own awards?  Too many.  It's just wrong on so many levels.


HMS Defiant said...

I disagree with your premise and conclusion. Awards are not meant to be hoarded. They are meant to be awarded to people you cannot pay back in any other coin. There may be some who elect to believe that there is a major difference between going the extra mile and the extra nautical mile but the net result is what matters. At the end of the day, you're a mile ahead of the others. That deserves a reward.
Not every CO gets a medal. Not every staff officer gets an award and many are still downgraded by Awards Boards at the very few places that still have them and expect the Board to review the entire package for each Award. The process is fine, it's the execution that is broken.

Anonymous said...

The biggest mistake the Navy made with regards to awards was establishing a premise for an End of Tour (EOT) award.

Anonymous said...

Further exacerbated by the notion of "mid-tour" awards. Or, all Navy officers sitting at desks in Iraq get bronze stars.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget NAMs for getting your buddy to join the Navy with you.

HMS Defiant said...

Why the animus to EOT awards? Undeserving or less deserving? What is the criteria for Meritorious Award if a list of accomplishments as long as your arm at the end of your tour is not enough?
Meritorious Awards mid-tour used to take the form of even Navy officially sanctioned "one the spot" awards of the NAM. That's why COs had that authority in the first place.
Everybody knows that a Bronze Star award without the V is nothing but a MSM because that's what the 1650 says and the Blue Jackets Manual. I think we can all live with that. It has been that way forever.
I have never in my life met a single man or woman wearing a NAM for bringing anybody into the Navy. Your mileage may vary.

I'll admit, I may be wrong on this but I see the number of awards as trending down, not up.

Hey, is that guy who did the IA in Afghanistan who got an award treated as a mid-tour award guy or just a plog who got what he deserved based on merit?

Anonymous said...

@ $3.50 an award, why quibble. The award's true value is to the person who got the award. They know what they did to deserve it (or not).

Mike Lambert said...

@HMS Defiant

I understand what you are saying but I say that you do not pay everyone with the same coin. How do we distinguish among our top performers? Don't we need to distinguish one from the other?

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...

"major difference between going the extra mile and the extra nautical mile"

Or exactly 796 feet ;)

In all seriousness, I've always wanted to see a 50/40/10 split on awards:

50% of folks in a particular paygrade are probably just doing their job and their EVAL/FITREP is sufficient

40% of folks are going above standard and likely deserve the level that is typically awarded at their rank.

10% are truly stellar and deserve a level above.

If we did even approximately this the award level would have more meaning.

HMS Defiant said...

Mike, In answer to your question there are a few measures:
-It used to be that you hardly ever saw a junior sailor with an NCM. I still don't see that many.
-Ribbon bars are far fewer than they were before we all wore cammo but I still see SOY Petty Officers with just one personal award. That's not inflation and I simply don't count the awards that Yeoman and clerks wear.
-I found that I really liked the new (15 years ago?) fitrep/eval system. It is no longer 4.0 all the way down and trying to use words in the breakout. Now we rank them honestly enough if we keep the ranking wear it belongs and don't let anybody game the system with "whose turn is it for the EP/MP" nonsense.
-That is what I liked about command awarded NAMS. Immediate impact on promotion with that extra 2 points.

I agree with NAVY GRADE but I would allow the circumstances to dictate the number of awards vice any percentage. That said, I never was at a command that gave more than 20% of the crew a personal award of any kind.

Seth Lawrence said...

Awards are only part of (and honestly the minor part) the reward calculus in my humble opinion.

Stellar performers are given more responsibility and more chances to succeed based on proven performance where the average, mediocre, or poor performers are given less respectively. That performance is captured in the FITREP process and those who achieve more, have more authority as a result, and consistently demonstrate initiative will naturaly do better WRT FITREPs.

Those CO's (or pick your job title) who are the top performers and get the same award as the bottom performers in the same role are noteably different to a promotion board because of their FITREPs that ultimately results in promotion. The award is only part of the individual performance equation, if we are arguing about who got what award to distinguish individuals we are looking at the wrong things. That being said, rewarding the stellar performers differently has merit, but that distinction should be done with much more than only awards.

Anonymous said...

For better or worse most awards have become proforma. The presence of which is not necessarily an indicator but the absence of which sure is indicative of 'not goodness'. If you want to 'fix' the situation you need not look further that what we did to 'fix' the FITREP situation. Back in the day most everyone was firewalled with straight 'A's' and picking out performers required vast skills of 'prose' interpretation. Introducing the P/MP/EP and the accompanying # limitations as well as reporting senior average tracking reigned in the overzealous and gave boards a more useful tool.

There was a time when we put limits on awards, perhaps we need to revisit that past.

Anonymous said...

It is out of control. Talking to someone who was recently on a promotion board, the expection is that an oficer will get one. TI is the absence of one that makes a difference. Seems a little bass ackwards.

DoD said...

Captain Lambert
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I have ordered a complete review.
March 20, 2014
Defense Department Announces Comprehensive Awards Review

The Department of Defense announced today that a comprehensive review of its military decorations and awards program will be conducted, which will incorporate lessons learned over the past 13 years of combat.

The department's review will focus on ensuring that the awards program continues to appropriately recognize all levels of combat valor as well as the sacrifices of our service members. Additionally, the review will determine how best to recognize service members who impact combat operations through the use of cyber technology and remote devices.

"The Department of Defense has a solemn obligation to recognize and honor service members who distinguish themselves in combat," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. "After 13 years of war, we must use lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to improve our awards program and ensure that our troops are being honored appropriately."

The acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness will lead the review working with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, military departments, and combatant commanders.

The review will begin in June 2014 and is expected to last approximately 12 months.