Sunday, December 7, 2014

16th Anniversary of my failure to screen for command - while in command !!

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 - leaving behind demoralized Sailors and a fractured command.

The "Failure to Screen for Command" letter arrived after I had been in command for 23 months and a few days before I put on Commander. Sixteen years later, I remain amused that the Navy bureaucracy put me in O5 command early as a senior O4 and failed to screen me for the job I was already in for nearly two years.  19 days later I received a letter from OPNAV authorizing me to "frock" myself to Commander.

I was not completely surprised by the "FAILURE TO SCREEN FOR COMMAND" letter because a Lieutenant from BUPERS had called two weeks earlier to inform me that I had "FAILED TO SCREEN". 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 and no one in my operational or admin chain of command was aware of the failure.

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. A year later, I "successfully screened" for the assignment that I had been doing for 35 months. 


Anonymous said...

This horse is dead, Mike. We have a process now that screens people prior to taking command and only screens enough to fill the demand each year. I was able to observe this process and believe it to be as fair as any other selection board process in the USN. While your situation was indicative of a broken system, that problem has been resolved.

Anonymous said...

It's the Powers of Observation that amuse me. The screening board MUST have seen your fitreps and the briefer MUST have brought the fact that you were already successfully filling a screened 05 Command Billet must have struck them as powerfuly useful.
They could screw you over for a couple of years and screen less able officers for command knowing that in your case, it would do no lasting harm.
Pretty sure I wouldn't want to work for people like that.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't surprise me at all from an organization that feels it needs to change what it wears on an all too often basis.

Anonymous said...

Let this one go Mike.

Anonymous said...

"Let this go Mike"...I disagree. There are plenty of great Naval (and other service) Officers that read this blog that have been non-selected by a promotion board. I was one of them, twice, and continue to have a fantastic career because the selections did come along eventually.

Non-selection is a lonely place, and you often don't realize the fact that you are often surrounded by non-selects...

Having someone as successful as Mike post something like this from his past can serve as a reason for one of today's non-selects to keep pushing.