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.