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.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Key Words And Tricky Phrases

The classic old joke about phrases that have been found in Royal Navy Fitness Reports makes for funny reading; U.S. Navy fitness reports and evaluations, however, seem to be much more boring.

Since all promotions above E-6 require the candidates to get selected by a board of some sort, it takes some skill to send the right message to the board that "this person really needs to get promoted" or "this person shouldn't be promoted"; this last option is especially important when you don't want to completely demoralize the Sailor who's getting the evaluation.

Do you have any examples of fitrep or eval comments you've seen that were "damning with faint praise" in an especially artful way? And do you think there's a better way we should be doing senior NCO and officer promotions than the old Promotion Board?


Anonymous retcob said...

On a transfer fitrep: "The Chief's Quarters won't be the same without him."

1/05/2010 3:59 PM

Blogger Jon said...

This wasn't on a fitrep or anything, but it was used in evals of a sort... when I was going through NFAS EMA School, one of my instructors (I want to say it was for BEE) asked that, if we didn't really have anything good or bad to say about our instructors during the eval portion of the class at the end where we evaluate our instructors, then look for the opportunity to write the following if it applied: "Instructor uses color to enhance student learning."

I have always remembered that particular phrase, and use it even now when I have to give an eval, even if I do have something else to say as well.

1/05/2010 4:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

jon: what the hell does that mean? He used colored dry erase markers?

1/05/2010 5:12 PM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

One of my favorites, still in use to this day: "Petty Officer X possesses unlimited potential to develop into an effective First Class Petty Officer." Substitute "Chief Petty Officer" and "effective member of the Chief's Mess" as needed.

1/05/2010 6:30 PM

Anonymous NHOY said...

Anon @ 5:12,

That is a phrase that instructors are evaluated on during sit-ins by the C.O.C. It references that while using chalk you use colored chalk to highlight the important parts of the lecture thereby enhancing student learning. It has pretty much gone away with the computer based instruction that is currently used.

1/05/2010 7:04 PM

Blogger ronaldsteed said...

My favorite is Robert E. Lee's supposed fitrep for Stonewall Jackson: "The sun has never shown on a finer Executive Officer. Straight as the arrow to the pole, so he advances to the execution of my purpose" Alas, but for a bullet from his own soldiers, he might have fared well before the Promotion Board....

1/05/2010 7:15 PM

Blogger ronaldsteed said...

Another great, understated, Brit Fitrep:

"Sits well astride a horse...."

1/05/2010 7:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lt so and so takes his nuclear training very seriously."

"Will make an outstanding Engineering Officer."

Between the lines Meaning:

"This knucklehead will never set foot up forward. He lacks real life skills and is unable to apply common sense to even simple problems. He has the personality of a 3-week old baked potato and should only serve with other nuclear trained personnel."

1/05/2010 7:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything praising his PRT performance. Wasting a bullet on that says there's nothing else nice to say.

1/05/2010 9:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I typed plenty of FitReps in my career but the best line I ever saw was on my XO's xfer FitRep.

Strongly recommended for Command of an SSBN.

I had only been on board about 2 months when I typed this and I thought I would die laughing.

1/05/2010 10:16 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/06/2010 4:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best fitrep I ever read was Gen Patton's 9/12/43 report on Omar Bradley.
My favorite is block 10: "Of all general officers of his grade personally known to you, what number would you give him on this list and how many comprise your list?"
Patton's answer:"Number 1. I know all of them"
There's a link on this web page to the actual report:

1/06/2010 5:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry about demorilizing the sailor who is getting the faint praise. The numbers won't lie, not getting the "early promote" wont' lie. I speak from experience from working for a chief I clashed with. Regardless, most of us blueshirts aren't quite that dim. The real kicker is that we then are expected to explain our disinterest in the next chief's exam when we know we've been shut down.

1/06/2010 7:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An eval discussion over a Seaman in a FT1 uniform (he was a FT1 if you don't get the maening). COC refused to find this worthless piece of crap as a non promotable eval. This guy was a terrible EVERYTHING.
So instead of marking him not promotable, the parked him promotable. COB said they wouldn't even put on the last line of his eval the standard "Recommended for promotion to Chief." The board will see that and he won't have a chance in hell of making Chief.

So the board started. FT1 to FTC advancement was like 75%-80%. Guess who got selected to advance to FTC??? Now this Seaman is out there wearing Khakis and anchors!

My point...mark people accordingly and to hell with their feelings!


1/06/2010 11:02 AM

Blogger Vigilis said...

"...have no doubt that he will be an outstanding ______, and I look forward to her contributions..."

1/06/2010 11:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This topic proves once again the politics associated with the Navy. Say one thing mean you mean something else. In this case, you have to know the "code words" for certain things, or the lack thereof.

What ever happened to just saying it like it is? I recall one conversation between a worthless seaman and a chief..."Get the f--- out my damn Navy!" I am sure that chief would have had "this jackass needs to leave the Navy immediately." Something tells me the seaman got marked promotable and may be a chief this very day.

My favorite remark for evaluation from our British friends: "He has hit rock bottom, and he has started to dig."

1/06/2010 11:14 AM

Anonymous retcob said...

If you're going to drive a guy out of the Navy, start early and hang a lot of paper on him. Don't let the eval be the first time he knows there's a problem. If you can't fix a guy, drive him all the way out. Don't pass him on to some other overworked crew/division/chief. You're stringing someone along can backfire and ultimately get somebody killed.

1/06/2010 12:29 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

"Frequently sober..."

1/06/2010 4:13 PM

Blogger DDM said...

It always chapped me when the COC said you had to fill the whole comments block, even for guys recently reported. My best lines:

"Hand-picked for this selectively detailed command."

"Meticulous in the handling of classified material under his care."

I generally used mid-term counselling to put out good and negative feedback.

1/06/2010 4:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a USAF Eval for a SMSGT: "Retain in grade". He put in for retirement day after given his eval.

Glad to see you back DUCKY, we missed you!!

Keep a zero bubble..........


1/06/2010 5:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favorites, still in use to this day: "Petty Officer X possesses unlimited potential to develop into an effective First Class Petty Officer." Substitute "Chief Petty Officer" and "effective member of the Chief's Mess" as needed.

Not quite as subtle as you would think.

1/06/2010 6:07 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

These things always tick me off:

Twisting language to write an evaluation so others can read between the lines instead of just speaking plainly. The only ones who can't interpret are civilians -the blueshirts can read between the lines too. I don't understand why our Navy culture has made this method the norm, and am personally guilty of perpetuating it.

" developing into a capable operator/supervisor/technician/insert watch here."

"...capable of outstanding performance under direct supervision."

"...Extremely effective at individual tasks"

I made it a point to teach all my guys from SN on up how to read 'evalspeak' & let them know where they really stood during both mid-term counseling & the eval signing. The only surprises to my guys when signing were good ones...when I was able to win some of the hard fought battles in the Mess for those critical EP's. AN EP equates to about an extra 16pts compared to an MP for a PO3 going up for second, all other things being equal.

During mid-terms I would be straight and tell the guys where I honestly felt that they stood, even if later I was submitting higher marks so that they would get a better shot to advance.

Chain of commands that refuse to put someone as anything less than promotable & that do not want to pull an advancement recommendation for someone who clearly deserves it also really aggravate me.

1/06/2010 6:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

STSC said: "Chain of commands that refuse to put someone as anything less than promotable & that do not want to pull an advancement recommendation for someone who clearly deserves it also really aggravate me."

The question for me always came to what has the leading petty officer/chief petty officer/division officer done to improve the sailor and show him the correct path. Sometimes the answer is the Chief did everything possible and the sailor won't response. Result: shot in the head on an eval. More time then I would like there wasn't a answer to the question. The Chief and Div O couldn't tell me what they had done to make the sailor better or the action solely consisted of calling the young sailor stupid on a regular basis. In that case, Promotable for the sailor and the Chain of Command.

1/07/2010 5:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Promotable for the sailor and the Chain of Command.

anon 5:52 AM

Got that right...

1/07/2010 6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"hang a lot of paper on him"--retcob is so right. The result is being able to write on a separation eval, "FR X gets amazingly dirty for the miniscule amount of work he does."
Bill the Shoe

1/07/2010 6:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"hang a lot of paper on him" doesn't work, when the paper keeps getting lost in the Chief's Quarters, because "he doesn't know what he's doing yet, we need to give him more time to qualify/shape up, etc, etc". Besides, if you're mean to him, he might go cry to squadron, or medical, and then the boat gets all sorts of nasty phone calls about why we aren't "touchy-feely".

1/07/2010 6:44 AM

Anonymous laughter in manslaughter said...

Eval Speak pisses me off so much, if not just because it ensured that a completely worthless Electrician made 1st when his only job as a second was divisional CPO, that's right, Cleaning Petty Officer. Couldn't do maintenance, couldn't do collateral duties, could just stand watch and clean. That was it. And that little turd made 1st, because he STARd for second because he knew he would never make it off the test, then they had to go and give him a Must Promote because he "didn't do that bad this year" and somehow two Promotables and 1 MP equals First Class Material. I hate the flipping Eval system. On another rant her are some of my favorites:

Possesses adequate technical knowledge

Outstanding divisional DCPO

Displayed outstanding enthusiasm as a sparkle team member

Can be counted on to ask for help

Has attempted to improve his level of knowledge

1/07/2010 3:04 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Not an perf eval, but I remember a student writing something on a course evaluation. Question was, "Have you ever been harassed". Answer was, "Yes, once I requested to enter Maneuvering to observe the Reactor Operator. When I entered, the RO opened his fly, pulled out his penis, and said..."

"Observe the Reactor Operator".

That particular course evaluation didn't make it past the SCI ;)

My peeve was that for the most part the guys staying in were rated higher than any of us jerks who were clearly shipping out after six.

1/07/2010 7:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Readily rejects responsibility."

(words actually used)

1/07/2010 8:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, a quota queen bitching about an FT1 advancing.........

The worst advancement catastrophe in submarine force history was that group of STSC's from 1998-2002 who were selected soley because of the outragious E-8 quota. Many CO's (Sea Wolf and Pittsburgh for example) were dumbfounded how a fresh STSCS could be so fucked up. And the worst part of all was these fired E-8 ST's were sent packing to NAVSUBSCOL.......ruining a generation of instructors and junior Sailors.

1/08/2010 8:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All time favorite "Petty Officer xx lacks self confidence, but I believe this demonstrates good judgement."

1/09/2010 5:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this happen to one guy before he transferred. The command moved his transfer up one day so that he wouldn't be ranked with his peers, i.e. he became a 1 of 1 EP, instead of a 1(to 6) of 40. On top of that the final comment in his remarks was: Ready for more changing assignments. With additional experience, will make a fine CPO.
I'm fairly certain that this stalled his career indefinitely. It's amazing the power a single evaluation can have.

Of course, when you consider the necessity of only advancing the best of the best, It makes it easier to see why we add stealthy comments to indicate the reality of a persons performance.

4/19/2010 8:39 PM

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your article, very helpful info.

11/28/2011 1:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hasn't seen the football since the kickoff"

"He was fat when he checked in, and he's still fat"

3/17/2012 12:51 PM


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