Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

So What Changed In 19 Months?

A short story on the Navy NewsStand website reminding officers that they need to get their official photographs in to NPC by Sept. 30 made me wonder when they had gotten rid of the requirement to have a photograph on file. I did some research, and discovered a little drama I'll call "A Tale of Two NAVADMINS":

It was the jest of times, it was the reversed of times. Back in September 2005, the then-Chief of Naval Personnel, VADM Gerald Hoewing, released NAVADMIN 224/05, which eliminated the 20th century requirement that all officer service records kept in D.C. have a relatively current full-length photo, thusly:
After careful review, it has been determined that the requirement to maintain an official photograph in the Officer Military Personnel File is no longer necessary, as adherence to physical standards is commented upon fitness reports and technology permits rapid transmission of officer photographs when needed. In addition, elimination of the requirement to maintain a photograph in the official service record will help streamline and modernize record management.
This actually makes sense. It's the 21st century, and while they didn't say it, it eliminated the questions that might have existed if someone didn't get promoted because they "looked different" (read -- "ethnic") when the picture was put up on the screen during promotion boards.

Apparently, this didn't work out for some reason, because a short 19 months later, the new CNP sent out a new NAVADMIN (103/07 for those keeping score at home). It said:
This NAVADMIN announces the reinstatement of the requirement for officer photographs in the official military personnel file (OMPF) maintained on the electronic military personnel records system (EMPRS) and cancels Ref A. This initiative will reemphasize the integral elements of military bearing and physical fitness to service professionalism. This policy will align military bearing, physical fitness/appearance and overall service professionalism within DON.
So what happened? Did the original NAVADMIN misalign military bearing and overall service professionalism within DON? Or, is it more likely that the new CNP, as a prelude to his highly anticipated "Required official PT Uniforms aren't completely lame at all" initiative, decided to return the Navy to its 21st century Core Value of "The way to win the War on Terror is not to be smarter, but to look better in uniform than the terrorists"? Way to go, Shore Warriors! You might have screwed the pooch when it came to taking care of Individual Augmentees, but at least the people still in the Navy will look good before they get promoted or retained!

8 Comments:

Blogger SonarMan said...

The whole Navy physical fitness program is a sham. This is a fact, and the sham operates out of the Chiefs quarters.

The project I work on for my company, a defense contractor, sends me on travel for 2-3 weeks at a time. During these travels, I usually dine with submariner chiefs. They also represent both PAC and LANT fleets, and are the recognized fleet experts in their field.

During one particular evening recently, the subject of the PRT program and the collateral duty of CFC came up. One of the guys I was with was his boats CFC just before he himself put on anchors. When he was CFC, he was pressured by the goat locker greatly to "bend" his integrity. He hated that job. I asked the other chiefs sitting with me if this happens elsewhere. They said it did, and that, in so many words, if a PO1 is well liked in the CPO quarters, he will get ranked favorably, despite having "more to love". Other guys get the thumbs down. All of us who have been on active duty in the last 15 years know this is true. All you have to do is look around for that supersized chief, and wonder how did he make it. I have a couple friends like that - who are still on active duty, as well. and they are big boys, trust me. Not that they don't deserve it, and are good guys - no doubt about that, but it makes you wonder. Well, now you know.

Basically, if your chief likes you, you'll get your rope and choke "adjusted", and your in - if not, you're shit outta luck. The whole program is a sham, and hypocritical. For the most part, the CPO quarters is a good ol' boy network, and hardly an ounce of integrity exists behind those doors. Think about it - how many chiefs are there that just got to be out of spec, and then compare it to how many of them are mando PT. The evidence to what they said is there, but for everyone would take their blinders off.

Yes, these are serious accusations, and I am dead serious about making them. This has come from Chief Petty Officers who work on SUBPAC and SUBLANT staff, and training commands.

I don't know how this all fits in for the officers. I can't recall but a handful of heavy officers in my whole career, and they were my XO and COs, two of whom were full birds. But nonetheless, the Navy Fitness program is not about making the sailor fit and healthy and combat ready. It's a bludgeoning tool against those who don't fit into the mold.

9/07/2007 8:12 PM

 
Anonymous Tyrant said...

What sonarman states above is absolutely true. I have seen some inappropriate "flexibility" in the submarine force's physical fitness standards, and have experienced it myself.

I am in excellent physical condition, but I ran my last PRT before separation on a cold spring morning after suffering a two-week bout of bronchitis. For the first time ever, I failed the run.

I didn't whine about it or make any excuses, and I was prepared to go on FEP. (I was always one of the first people onboard in the morning, and I enjoy PT.)

However, nothing was ever said about it. Upon inquiring with the CFC I learned that they'd passed me anyway. I was a productive and knowledgeable crewmember, and--more importantly--I was well-liked. Others who weren't so well-liked didn't receive the treatment I did.

That's what sticks in my craw about it. Sure, maybe I was separating. Sure, I was sick and my failure was a fluke. Fudging with the numbers like that, however, is no less a compromise to the Navy's advancement system than boosting someone's advancement exam score, or openly allowing them to cheat. This would, of course, be unthinkable.

So, yeah. It's broken. If they're serious about the physical fitness program, they're going to have to take it away from individual commands and have some external authority monitor BCAs and PRTs.

(I came in every morning and ran with the FEP guys anyway. Many of them were with me during that run, and I couldn't stand the idea of being "that guy" who unfairly got the good deal.)

9/08/2007 7:06 AM

 
Blogger jq5 said...

Sonarman,
Wow! That's a pretty sweeping indictment of the CPO mess. I was on active duty for most of the last 15 years and from what I've seen your statement is just not true. In fact, the only thing that I have seen get someone out of the three strikes rule is having a nuclear NEC.
As far as CPO's controlling the "rope and choke", on the boats I've been on, most guys that qualified for it would rather have the First Class Command Fitness Leader perform it since he was more lenient.
If your former CFC had some backbone, he would have stood his ground and took the issue up the chain of command instead of complaining to a tech rep years after the fact.
"Hardly an ounce of integrity exists behind those doors." Hmmm...I sense a little anti-CPO angst, perhaps some sour grapes. Is it a perfect system? No, it's not, neither is the Eval/Fitrep system. The problem is some people are willing to break the rules in order to advance the little group under their cognizance without any concern for the Navy as a whole. This can happen in any organization at any level. That's a far cry from impugning the integrity of the entire CPO mess!!
I've sat many eval ranking/awards /SOQ/SOY boards, and believe me, if a candidate is overweight, it's going to be brought up. It's just not going to fly when every department is trying promote their guy over your guy. Not meeting PRT standards is the kiss of death. And if you tried some funny stuff and got your lard lad measured in spec, it's going to be questioned.
Many of those Chiefs you're trash talking risk their careers every day to take care of their people with integrity and honor. I'm sorry that apparently you never got to work for a real Chief, one that really cared about your well being and would stick his neck out to do the right thing. If you had, I doubt you would would have such a dim view of CPOs.
As far as the original post, Bubblehead, you are spot-on. Form always comes before function nowadays.

9/08/2007 11:59 PM

 
Blogger SonarMan said...

JQF5, you're absolutely correct. It's more than just angst, let me tell you - I'm damn angry about it. Wouldn't you be? Especially since it means the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in retirement over the course of your life just because your chief didn't like you?

Tyrant knows the truth - he has seen it for himself. It is indeed a sweeping indictment, and I wouldn't say it if it weren't absolutely true. Like you, I hadn't actually seen the prejudice (heard rumors about it), and refused to believe it was true, until I heard it "straight from the horses mouth". There is no getting around that.

I'm not asking for a perfect system, just one with integrity, where the standards of the instruction are adhered to in all cases.

9/09/2007 8:02 AM

 
Anonymous EW-3 said...

It does deeper than physical fitness. If a PO1 is favored by those in the Goat Locker he will even get awards to help his passage to the chiefs quarters.
Perrsonal experience - we got both a Chief EW and EW-1 at the same time. They came from the training unit that was closing in Newport. Both were questionable, but the PO1 was terrible. He had not technical skills and knew little about actual EW operations in CIC.
We did a tour of the North Atlantic and we got a huge number of ELINT intercepts. One of those intercepts was of a radar altimeter from a Bear-D on tape.
The PO1 never stood a watch, never provided direction, and I kept him away from my WLR-1. When we got back, the PO1 was up for Chief, and of course he got some meritous citation. They were wise enough to have me off the ship the day it was awarded..... But in the end the USN lost. Making him an EWC, which at the time (mid 70s) was a critical position, just filled a much needed postion with an incompetent.

9/09/2007 9:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even better - how about if they use something other than the damn BMI profiles that are proven to be total bull shit? How about investing in some real analytical equipment (a whole base could use one of those awesome dunk pools) where those guys who are obviously very fit don't get rope and choked because they have a small neck and large bones :)

It is absolutely a sham that operates out of the Chief's quarters and officers are almost always "stretched" on the rope & choke so as not to fail. That being said we DO have a friend who finally was told to loose weight if he wanted to screen for CO - and after 20 years in the military he finally came into weight standards. Illustrious career with many awards but it does seem for officers that the weight in that full length photo makes a difference....at some point.

Then again - let's all just get good at taking the photo lying on our backs so as to look thinner!

9/09/2007 11:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the RM1, I saw everything from the XO's burn bag, even the edited versions is CPO evals. How can a hatch-plug COB be 5's across the board? These are just the facts.
RM1/SS

9/10/2007 7:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting views of programs across the board. Their does seem to be angryman complex acoss it. i m not going to disagree that the blind eye happens and may provide unfavorable results for some in the fitness program but i believe the pressure is placed across the board at every peer group and the golden boys are getting fewer and fewer as the years go on. it is falling into rules are rules u either follow them or u dont. Tyrant is the perfect example. Failing PRT, accepting it, following instruction and moving on, despite the fact he was separating and unwell at the time. i find it difficult to call it a sham. Un managed properly a little bit, sure, but its not limitied to military programs, its across the world on global levels. Superior Performance will win over minor personal challenges everytime everywhere.The perform to serve is big NAVY micro managing every command decision and honestly what were the reasons that u were separated. U were not in compliance and ur performance was not so outstanding that someone did not want to bend a rule for you. u gave them the opportunity by not being in compliance as a minimum sailor or posibly less than, to separate u. Extreme case association, 1992 I recieved 45/45 1/2 x2 bust e-5- e-4 4.0 sailor on 4.0 scale across the numbers 17 of 18 njps that year recieved suspended on all counts. Angry? sure. But after my first failure identified to the system i made sure it didnt happen again i corrected my deficiency so others may not choose my fate. of the 18 4 still are in the military 11 have since been separated due to personal failures in correcting themselves. It is a shame when our leadership example of a rule is poor but to pin it in one area such as the chiefs mess is more of an attack on what one didnt get away with vice what one may of accomplished.sounds more to me like u got caught robbing th bank and ur mad the cops didnt catch the jewel thieves so its the cops fault u r in jail.

7/12/2009 11:44 PM

 

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