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, July 08, 2011

Up Or Out -- Good Or Bad?

This story (and a nudge from Chap) got me thinking about the Navy system of "up or out" officer promotions and career gates in general. There are very few other organizations that, once you get good at a job (or not), literally force you to up to the next step of the ladder or else get thrown aside. For Unrestricted Line Officers, there really are no other realistic choices.

For those who aren't aware of the system, here's a short primer (in addition to the link above), using submarine examples. For officers, if you don't get promoted, you're asked to leave the service within a few years. Once you make LCDR (O-4), you're generally allowed to stay around until you're retirement-eligible, but a Lieutenant who fails to promote to LCDR usually has to leave once you fail to select (FOS) twice. This isn't that big a deal -- at the lower ranks, one generally has to be a major screw-up to fail to promote, so you'll normally be doing everyone a favor by taking your talents elsewhere. (On the enlisted side, they kind of have the same concept, but once you make E-6 you're good to go until 20.) It's the officer job career path that, I think, results in some people who are really good at their jobs being forced into jobs where they're not so good.

For a submarine officer's sea tours, you get three years as a division officer, then shore duty. Then you get about 3 years as a Department Head, then more shore duty. About 60% of DHs get selected to do about 2 years as Executive Officer, and about 2/3 of XOs get three years in command. And then, unless you go to new construction or get to fill in for someone who got fired, that's the last time you command a submarine. The best COs get the same three years as the worst, with no time left to start again. (There are obvious exceptions to the above -- I did 5+ years as Eng on two NewCon boats -- but those are exceptions that prove the rule.)

What this results in is people who are really good division officers, but who might be lousy Department Heads, not being able to serve the Navy doing what they do best. On the other hand, if you leave a guy doing Main Propulsion Assistant tours for three out of every five years for 20 years, you take away that slot from a new guy coming up. If the Navy were ever having manning problems that would be an option, but we aren't nearly at that point yet. By constantly injecting "new blood", you end up with people not necessarily filling the job they're best at, but you do get a chance to evaluate all the talent to see who might have what it takes to be a CO. Of course, once you do that, you still get only 3 years out of those guys in command. Is this the best system? The Brits will get guys who are good Engineers be the Eng on several ships for a decade or more, but he'll never get command. There are pros and cons either way.

What do you think? Is "up or out" the way to go, or should we let guys do the jobs they're good at (which would also allow us to reduce accessions)?

Personally, if they would have let me, I would have been happy being an Eng forever.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public high school teacher here--not interested in administration. I am happy to stay in the classroom my whole career, and I'm really good at it. Problem is, lots of folks in and out of education think that staying put = failure, and that teaching is an "entry level position", as one administrator at my school put it. Needless to say, we get paid accordingly, even as we assume leadership roles in our departments and schools.

7/08/2011 5:54 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

Joel, for my YG, XO selection was more like 30%, not 60%. Interesting post though. I'm not sure how many JO's would want to stick around and do multiple JO tours for their whole career.

7/08/2011 7:09 PM

Anonymous Stsc said...

We could shift to CWO MPA's / div o's though and retain their expertise, and make the line officer community smaller. So the line O's would be groomed for command from the get-go. That way you would get a served CPO running the division O role and another mentor for the future CO's as they come up as a JO. I also like the idea of forward/aft officers that the Brits employ.

7/08/2011 7:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up or out? How 'bout, "Get out!"

7/08/2011 7:20 PM

Anonymous submarines once... said...

Old relatively speaking to most commentators but in the '70's it was 3+ years JO, got a shore tour (standard recruit hook and it worked-especially when wrangling a DH tour on the best boat in the force)then 3+ years as Eng immediately followed by 3 years as XO, then another shore tour (5 sided puzzle palace) and then command-3 years split on two SSN's and after a few more years ashore 2+ on my first SSBN, a Trident back when O-6's got the drive and then time to leave.
Now long in tooth retard (that's how it's pronounced in this part of the country).
All things said, it's a young man's game and the up or out is what is used to drive those who want the "brass ring" to work their a$$es off to get there. Very few JO's get to their first boat aspiring to command and if that tour (or the retention hook) doesn't work then they will walk. But should they get to a tour where they(and I don't really like this phrase )"are having fun" then onward and upward.
However, in this day and age with the different threats than I dealt with, the challenge of motivating those to swallow the bad to get to the "ring" is even harder.
Couple that with the latest PC moves and I'm glad I was around when dirt was invented as I doubt I would have enjoyed it nearly as much now.
But my best to those still serving and doing the serious business of providing backbone to the PC rhetoric and taking care of our Nation's defense. Always remember, no prize for second place in defense!

7/08/2011 7:39 PM

Anonymous ssnret said...

Good question Joel. I often wondered as an enlisted man why the wardroom seem to move guys around as much as they did.

But here's a new twist Fox News is reporting that the Navy will soon discharge 3000 sailors to reduce costs. Mostly low rank/poor performers.

Here's the rest of the twist. Spoke with my son this evening. He is an FC2 on an Arleigh Burke-class tin can. Normal manning about 280 officer and enlisted. Currently they have about 200. Good for the berthing bill, bad for the watchbill.

7/08/2011 7:42 PM

Blogger Ken Mitchell said...

It's the embodiment of the Peter Principle. Lawrence J. Peter wrote that in every hierarchy, people are promoted from one job to the next, as long as they can do the job. Somewhere along the path, you're going to hit a job that you can't do - and there you stay, stuck at your level of incompetence.

For the U.S.Navy especially, the problem is that it takes several months to learn your job, then a few more to be really competent in it. As soon as you've got things figured out, it's time to move up to the next rung of the ladder. So you'll actually spend most of your career being incompetent but learning to become competent, until you can't learn the next task - and you're now stuck at your level of incompetence.

"Cream rises until it curdles," Peter said.

7/09/2011 12:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up or out is good. Theory is that talent overrides experience, and that you are seeking the most talented people to lead your organization in the long term.

Now, "talent" may mean political ass-covering when the system goes wrong, but I think the underlying principle is sound. The enlisted folks are there for the continuity - we need the high-level leaders to be the types who can learn a new job every 3 years and be very good most of the time.

7/09/2011 1:40 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

Up-or-out is wasteful of human capital, hugely expensive, and essentially unknown in business enterprise. Other navies - the Brits a prime example - manage to move their best officers forward and retain the experience and technical skill of those in a terminal paygrade. They ended up-or-out long past.

So why do we keep this archaic system? Because our flag-officer leaders who manage the policy side of things and the detailer shops who manage the wetware are 100% beneficiaries of the up-or-out system. And the dollar costs are hidden away in the MPN budget among more costly items there and in the overall budget.

The policy side has long held that the age issue drives it. But that argument sailed with the progress of modern times. Consider: in the last century life expectancy increased by over 20 years, medicine and public health advanced greatly, and the physical demands of life at sea became far less a factor. But the argument that the Navy could only count on the youthful changed not one bit.

For the record, my personal time in service was not affected by this policy. And I've been arguing against it for a long time.

7/09/2011 3:50 AM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I think it is a great idea because my personal story proves it. I was in a shitty year group with abysmal promotion to XO, so I didn't make it. I stayed in because I was close enough to make it to retirement, but wanted to do more. I got the opportunity to go back to see for a second DH tour kind of like the GSOs from when I first came in.

The second tour sucked and I absolutely hated it. So unlike those poor bastards that were still climbing the ladder, there was very little to look forward to that would make it bearable.

If you keep people in jobs they do well with little hope of moving forward then what becomes their motivation for dealing with the crap? The old GSO on my first boat was very good, but hated everyone and everything.

Up or out is a wonderful policy and I fully support it because once I let the submarine world go that final time there were some pretty cool opportunities out there. Carrier Strike Groups, an all expenses paid tour of Iraq, and senior Agency job.

I loved working on a sub, but you have to have carrots to dangle to be able to put up with all the BS.

7/09/2011 6:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The up and out policy is part and parcel of the somewhat archaic two-track military personnel system (i.e. enlisted and officer). IMO, every URL officer should spend 2-4 years enlisted first, then get selected for the officer corps from those ranks - no more direct accessions of officers simply because you have a college degree. Up and out would then make more sense for a pool of selected (and self-selected) people deliberately on a 'management track'

7/09/2011 7:40 AM

Blogger Curt said...

It's really a pyramid/ponzi scheme, so you've got to pump in a bunch to get a few to the top.

Normally the pyramid (think: sausage grinder) would do it's thing, but as overpaid as the Wardroom folks are, few want to go home...

So, they eat their own, one way or another, so that just a few can keep getting the REALLY Big bucks (Golden Rule).

7/09/2011 7:49 AM

Blogger Marcia said...

It's an interesting concept. My personal Navy career wasn't affected in the same way, as I was at NR. Your Navy career then was only 5 years long.

But now that I'm in "middle management", I sometimes see the same thing. I'm a great engineer. There's a tendency in my industry to promote the best engineers and scientists into management. Here, we no longer have time to do engineering (what we are best at), and now we get to spend our time on management (that we suck at). Promote people until they are ineffective, yeah!

My hope, of course, is to get better at both. Some of the people I most admire now are in their 50's and glide effortlessly back and forth from engineering to management, depending on the job requirements.

OH, and I have an old Navy buddy who is heading out on his 2nd CO tour, so it does happen. Another exception that proves the rule?

7/09/2011 8:14 AM

Anonymous 594tuff said...

"Up or Out" implies a personal choice as the driving function of ones career progression. In actuality the only choice you get to make is "out". The system is designed to fit the needs of the navy only. At each corner there is a carrot to keep your hopes up but those carrots are really hooks to keep you until the system no longer needs you. This is especially true once you reach the mid career point. For example once you make DH the O4 hook sets and with retirement around the corner, sticking it out for XO sounds appealing, then O5, CO, O6, etc. alternating in just the right periodicity to keep the hook set. None of these are choices as it is entirelly up to the board. Your only choice is to stop eating carrots.

7/09/2011 8:37 AM

Anonymous Horatius said...

I think this might be the only solution to restoring the credibility gap between the goat locker and the wardroom. If the chiefs want to let time in service trump rank, then two need to play that game.

7/09/2011 10:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem isn't really the "up and out" system, but instead the system where Officers spend about 50% of their careers on shore duty billets in order to increase retention. Depending on when one hits the boat as a JO, a 32 month tour doesn't leave a whole lot of room for gaining experience, and it only gets worse as you get more senior and sea tours shrink even further.

7/09/2011 11:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up or out exists in my civilian job. I'm in management. If you don't get promoted, you are out. We have other functions (engineering, finance, etc) that are more like the enlisted rates where you can stay in the same function forever.

It's essentially just like the Navy, except that bonus' are performance based and you can get to the point where you're making several hundred a year in bonus alone.

I would argue that in civilian jobs, if you're in the job function that runs the company, promotion is the same as it was in the Navy.

7/09/2011 11:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, guess it get even tuogher on the biotches when the beavers get in the wardroom...

7/09/2011 12:30 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

Another "real world" example is at least some accounting firms, where you face "up or out" until you make partner. Or not.

And I'm not a fan of the RN system, where the plant guys are kept silent unless spoken to. I prefer drivers who are smart enough to be nucs.

7/09/2011 12:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]The problem isn't really the "up and out" system, but instead the system where Officers spend about 50% of their careers on shore duty billets in order to increase retention. Depending on when one hits the boat as a JO, a 32 month tour doesn't leave a whole lot of room for gaining experience, and it only gets worse as you get more senior and sea tours shrink even further.[/quote]
Also, the officer career path is based on making CO inside 20 years. With people living longer these days, perhaps that could be expanded to 25 or even 30 years. That would allow time to lengthen every tour, and allow officers to serve more time in a billet once they learn the ropes instead of immediately jump to the next job immediately upon learning to be competent at the current one.

7/09/2011 1:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not agree with being older going in to command. It takes a lot of energy and after your mid-40, that starts to drop for most. Also look at what happened at the beginning of WWII. Among the other factors for the submarine force's slow start (faulty toropedoes and doctrine), was the fact that the COs were older and less apt to take risk. It was not until the younger guys who were willing to take more risk that the submarine force began to have a real impact. There is no doubt in my mind that the same sort of thing would happen today - if the conflict lasted long enough. Also in the days of multiple command tours (70s - 80s), those COs on their second or third tours really started to run out of gas in the later tours. There were some of those guys who were rarely out of their staterooms while underway - leaving the running of the ship to the XO. They may have been OK at the time, but I can't imagine that being acceptable today.

7/09/2011 2:46 PM

Anonymous 594tuff said...

Officer career progression is NOT based on CO. CO is just a stepping stone to flag. If we lengthen the time to CO we will never be able to compete where it counts. Additionally, we would end up screening people for O4/5/6 before they complete their milestone tours = BAD. Why do you think the SWOs have implemented the fleet-up program, to make more room for Masters, JPME, etc.

7/09/2011 2:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, that was my mistake. I thought "where it counts" was winning wars. Forgot the REAL goal is careerism for a very few.

7/09/2011 5:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Many WWII Submarine Captains were LCDR's, and many were spot promoted to the job. Additionally, there were no shore duty billets where you spent 2 years getting a Master's in basket weaving or fellatiating an Admiral with Power Point presentations. That's where the youth in command came from.

In a peacetime Navy with no battles to win at sea and additional requirements to attempt to differentiate a plethora of otherwise nondescript resumes for command at sea, you either have to accept the fact that CO's will be older or accept the bastardized system we have now where Officers only hold a job long enough to learn it before moving on.

2) The "career milestones" you speak of are just political hogwash and can be changed easily. Does a Master's really demonstrate one's ability to command a Submarine? Is JPME really that important before someone is trying to put on a star? Additionally, since you mentioned SWO's, the SWO JO tour is a full year longer than the Submarine JO tour. Additionally, they do two DH tours, and many Officers screen and promote to LCDR while serving as a DH. It's only in the Submarine force where the Eng is a spot promoted LCDR and all other DH's get promoted to LCDR after their "career milestone" of a DH tour is met.

3) If you think risk aversion is unique to older CO's in our peacetime, zero tolerance for incidents Navy, think again. The mark of success for a current CO is to keep his job to the end of the tour. Every decision he makes has that very principle as a cornerstone.

Bubblehead identified a valid issue -- Officers only hold jobs barely long enough to get good at them, and then they have to move on. The solution isn't to overhaul the "up and out" system, which is integral to breeding success. The solution is to lengthen Officer tours, particularly the ludicrously short 18 month XO tour. The only way to do that is to either 1) get rid of a shore duty billet or two entirely or 2) extend the length of the JO/DH/XO/CO timelines, which results in people having command later in their career.

7/09/2011 8:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also in the days of multiple command tours (70s - 80s), those COs on their second or third tours really started to run out of gas in the later tours. There were some of those guys who were rarely out of their staterooms while underway - leaving the running of the ship to the XO. They may have been OK at the time, but I can't imagine that being acceptable today. The XO is SUPPOSED to run the ship. Actually, the senior JO's are supposed to run the ship. The CO is supposed to set the shipwide policies with advice of the Wardroom and Goat Locker. But with our zero defect Navy that fires the CO at the first incident, you need an O-5's permission to wipe your ass on watch. I know it's hard to imagine a Navy that actually trusts DH's and JO's to do their jobs, but perhaps with longer tours and the experience that comes with it, they'll be able to do it successfully without an O-5 breathing down their necks.

7/09/2011 8:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

STS2 Up or out on the enlisted side is poor idea in my opinion. Resulted in top heavy enlisted ranks, and stretched out time in grade requirements. Lost some excellent people who knew their job and were happy doing it. Can't speak on the O side of the issue.

7/09/2011 8:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@8:04 pm
"It's only in the Submarine force where the Eng is a spot promoted LCDR and all other DH's get promoted to LCDR after their "career milestone" of a DH tour is met. "

All DH's in the last 15 years have put on O-4 prior to completion of their DH, generally at least a year before it's complete (if selected for promotion that is, but I've only known one in my experience that wasn't, and that was back in 1998)

7/09/2011 8:33 PM

Anonymous 594tuff said...

@Anon 8:04, I think we are in complete agreement on most points. I was simply pointing out the "political hogwash" is the way it is. Unfortunately, the only things that matter ARE masters, JPME, "nuclear pushups", and getting the right bullets from those in the know. Unfortunately, there is no real evaluation of true leadership in the career path path. But as I stated, the fact is, having JPME and a Masters counts. Perhaps more than it should, but it is a "requirement".

7/09/2011 9:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a prior submariner serving as a nuke LDO on a carrier. I'm in a spot billet but I'm a promoted O-4. My Nuke SWO counterparts have master's degrees but I don't see how they apply it to their jobs. Experiences and time spent in challenging jobs shape an officer, not graduate degrees. I commissioned right before my 15 year point so I'm up against 30 years if and when I go in zone for O-5. I've checked the boxes to make CDR, but I may not have enough time unless the flow points shift to the left. My pinnacle sea tour is Chief Engineer on a carrier followed by selection as a Captain and then on to 38 years and retirement.

7/09/2011 9:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are better off joining as an enlisted nuke, out after 6 by age 24-26 as an ET1/EM1/MM1 and then get a Masters on the GI Bill. By the time that JO gets upped and outed back into the civilian job market he will wind up working for you.

7/10/2011 4:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anon 4:17am,

That is a bit of hyperbole. JOs have an undergrad when they start at 22, have very short sea tours (as discussed earlier), AND can get cushy (non-prototype) shore jobs where they can complete a Master's degree while on salary. Since the nuclear officer time commitment is 5 years (+ shore duty if taken), you are looking at someone who is 28 with an advanced degree.

I would be interested to hear about the command environment of others on their first shore tour. Since it is a tacit assumption that you will finish your Master's degree, do your COs enable you (less work hours, etc.)? Or are you left to fend for yourself?

7/10/2011 6:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up or Out absolutely exists in the civilian world. Where I've observed that sort of management of human capital is predominantly in the global consultancies and systems integrators (McKinsey, Accenture, CapGemini, etc.), but I'm sure it exists elsewhere.

They do it there for the same reason that the Navy does: they sink or swim based upon the quality of their top-most ranks.

Allowing only-so-qualified people to fill roles necessarily plugs the flow of new/good/ideally-better people into the system.

Question that logic? Take it to the extreme: what if every role in the Navy was filled by a lifer dog that was only qualified for that particular role: you'd have zero flow into the system for new, top-level leadership.

The submarine Navy has plenty enough trouble retaining the best of the best. In my YG, I guarantee that the top-shelf guys were long gone by the time they were passing out Bull Ensign/Admiral stripes. You can't improve that situation by restricting the people-flow.

7/10/2011 8:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to hear how many 22 year old Ensigns had to pay for two- or even four years of their undergraduate tuition themselves before commisioning and how many will be offered a free Masters during their first 5 years in the Navy? I bet the first answer is plenty and the second is not many.

7/10/2011 9:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did 20 years as an officer. Would have stayed in, but wasn't promotable to O-6, so I got out - best thing that ever happened to me. My recommendation: if you're not truly enjoying it, then get out ASAP. Life is much better outside the Navy on multiple/all levels. Only thing missed is the camaraderie and that can be regained by finding a good group of friends and getting involved. Seriously, if you don't like the BS, stop complaining about it and get out. You won't regret it.

7/10/2011 4:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said 594..BZ.. As a fellow 594 tough I wonder if these Phillies have the Mettle to dare board a 594........

7/11/2011 9:10 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

One of the issues as I see it, that whether enlisted or officer, you're looking at a 20-year lifespan/career in most cases. Contrast that to a 40-45 year lifespan in the civilian sector, where one can grow into a career, acclimate, but at the same time, the pressure to move up isn't nearly as substantial as it would be in the military.

Now if we were realistic about building, mentoring, and retaining the best possible wardroom, CPO quarters, etc., why aren't we a LOT more honest in our evaluations of JO's and junior (E-4/E-5) enlisted, basically telling them (where justified), "Hey, you might want to stick around, but frankly, this just isn't the place for you?"

7/11/2011 9:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot for the life of me figure out why the submarine enlisted are encouraged to go LDO or Warrent and then after making are not longer assigned to a submarine. Is this just something that non nuclear enlisted go through or do all the enlisted nucs get the boot fromt the boats after getting a commision? What a waste of telent.

7/11/2011 11:35 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Actually anon, it's not a waste--unless they have a degree and go URL, they'll never command. Some of the best Div-O's I had on the tender were Warrants and LDO's, precisely because they had the technical expertise to know when something was feasible, or when the Chief or LPO was trying to blow sunshine up their asses.

They knew that even when the Repair Officer or CO wanted something done, their experience and time in the trenches which told them that someone's expectations might be a bit high, they could push back, but do it in such a manner that senior officers HAD to listen to them.

7/11/2011 12:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sparky, I agree that the Tender will benefit from their experience, but there are only two tenders now. You take all the sub experience and take it away from submarines. Why should every officer on a sub have to be eligable to command?

Do they lose their sub pay? Can they ever serve on a sub again?

7/11/2011 2:10 PM

Anonymous Stsc said...

A few can be on specific crews as an AWEPS, everyone else is gone from submarine duty except for maybe1-2 in SP. Tender isn't considered sub duty.

7/11/2011 4:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a submariner who went LDO. I saw nothing in my future but EDMC and NPTU tours and that didn't appeal to me. I had enough sub time for 22 years of submarine pay after my commissioning.

I've taken my talent and experience to carriers, sub repair, and a tender. Former sub LDO's are typically the backbone of the Rx departments on carriers. Less than three years after commissioning I had a SWO pin and was standing OOD on a carrier launching airstrikes for shock and awe in Iraq.

I truly appreciated my time on submarines, it made me the person I am today. I just reached the point where I felt I needed a change in direction career-wise. I don't regret it.

7/11/2011 9:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I consider myslef lucky to have recently completed a 42 month DH tour, which included 2 deployments. Towards the end of the tour I was FINALLY begining to understand my job. I was passionate about my job, however my family did see that I was begining to suffering from 'burnout'. Only now, after I have left the job do I see how it had effected me towards the end. I agree that tour lengths being shortened has a detrimental affect on the experience level of our future leaders, but it must be carefully balanced with the individuals ability and needs. I am positive that there is no easy answer, but i am glad (and even more so for my family) to have a shore duty before I head back as and XO.

7/12/2011 2:47 AM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

This is an interesting topic. My late wife entered the Navy on the Nurse Corps Scholarship program. After knife and fork school she went to Naval Hospital, San Diego and I reported to SSN590 (my first boat.)

She spent her year Navy career in Intensive Care units. Her sole mission in life was to be a bedside nurse. She made Lieutenant a year below the zone, and LCDR a year below the zone. At about the mid-point of her time as LT management was determined she would leave bedside nursing and fill the billet of Charge Nurse (ODCR position.)

She acquiesced but spent as much time as she could at patient bedsides. When she was deep selected for LCDR; back at San Diego Naval Hospital, management was determined that she would leave bedside nursing and fill a Nurse Supervisor, or Nurse Manager position; I forget which. She submitted her resignation from the Navy. They frocked her, and didn't understand that it wasn't about promotion. She had studied very hard for five years to earn her Bachelor of Science (Nursing) and that had been her lifelong goal. To be a bedside nurse. Not a manager. She had no problem being supervisor, so long as she could do the thing she loved most and was best at.

She left the Navy and went to Harborview Medical Center. She worked Coronary Intensive care at Harborview for 16 years and then moved on to the NeoNatal Intensive Care unit at Tacoma General. When we moved to Salt Lake City in 2007 she went to work at the VA Hospital in the Medical Intensive Care Unit.

Bottom line. She was a Registered Nurse. She wanted to stay one. Moving up meant moving out of nursing.

7/12/2011 10:26 AM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Edit my post to read "She spent her eight years active Navy career..."

Should have reviewed before submitting. Sorry.

7/12/2011 10:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line. She was a Registered Nurse. She wanted to stay one. Moving up meant moving out of nursing. This is one reason why many pilots get out after their obligation; their mandatory upward movement moves them out of the cockpit.

Interestingly enough, in the Army a pilot is a Warrant Officer, so he actually gets to stay in the cockpit longer.

7/12/2011 1:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All DH's in the last 15 years have put on O-4 prior to completion of their DH, generally at least a year before it's complete (if selected for promotion that is, but I've only known one in my experience that wasn't, and that was back in 1998)

Be careful making absolute claims like "ALL DH's..." The optimal officer's timeline through DH looks like this:
18 months training
32 months DIVO
24 months shore duty
32 months DH
=106 months, which is just under 9 years.

The earliest promotion to LCDR usually occurs at 9 years TIS, which is over the amount of time it would take someone to complete their DH tour. There are also other factors like what time of year you hit the boat since the vast majority of promotions (80-90%, I forget where the number is exactly) to LCDR and above occur at the end of the fiscal year.

7/12/2011 1:55 PM

Anonymous LDO said...

The truth is that CVNs could not put to sea without LDOs wearing silver dolphins (in the unfortunate position below a gold SWOS pin) running the Reactor Dept.

Surface warriors, in general, lack much general engineering prowness and material management ability, which is why surface ships routinely fail INSURVs. I've never heard of a submarine failing an INSURV :)

7/12/2011 4:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging a ship by its performance on inspections is the most retarded thing I've ever heard. And that includes some of the shit that comes out of the E-2 lookouts.

7/12/2011 7:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Headed back to the fleet as a DH now, & interestingly enough its getting to where many DH's are leaving their tour as an LT. I know of at least one current DH who's being relieved before the end of the year on scheduled orders & goes up for his in-zone O-4 consideration in April 2012 (the FY13 board). So this poor guy who has had an outstanding DH tour will probably be an LT for a year or more after his DH tour. Served DH's that are still LT's get funny looks, but now its not so rare anymore & no longer implies "issues."

7/12/2011 8:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two cents - as a freshly discharged LT, I've been doing job interviews right and left. Alot of interviewers ask me where I see myself in 5 years, and having thought about it, my answer can be summed up as "Not a nub." Advancement as a sub officer seemed to be chasing the dragon; constantly learning jobs, never holding them long enough to settle in. Some people might like that, I got the heck out.

7/12/2011 11:26 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Surface warriors, in general, lack much general engineering prowness and material management ability, which is why surface ships routinely fail INSURVs. I've never heard of a submarine failing an INSURV :)

Engineering prowess...For the most part not too bad. Not great, but not bad.
Surface ships fail INSURV because they can't see beyond their noses and add "5" to the year of the previous one. They wait to be TOLD when it will be before they start "preparing" for it. And they wonder why Dave Thomas' head is about to explode.

7/13/2011 4:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surface warriors, in general, lack much general engineering prowess and material management ability, which is why surface ships routinely fail INSURVs. I've never heard of a submarine failing an INSURV :)
1. Surface warriors are not nuclear trained in engineering (not speaking of carriers).
2. The engineering prowess in surface ships is on non nuclear eingineering.
3. The “optimal” manning of the surface fleets is probably the stupidest idea ever (except for the LCS).
4. Surface ships don “not” routinely fail Insurv. Some fail, most pass.
5. The maintenance budget and support for submarines is a much higher priority than for the tin cans.
6. Do subs even go through Insurv?
7. Subs can and do fail Orse from time to time.

7/13/2011 5:40 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Interestingly enough, in the Army a pilot is a Warrant Officer, so he actually gets to stay in the cockpit longer.}

If we use warrant officers the right way in the Navy, we would have fewer problems, I think.

7/13/2011 9:05 AM

Blogger David said...

I posted on your blog about officers not screened to XO.. Here's a question. Why must a non-screened XO DH be de-nuked.. Cant they be given the option to do another DH tour, stay on the boats etc? Luckily I had 10+ years enlisted service and was at 23 years when this happened to me. So I could retire.. How many of the non-screened guys are forced to find another community to stay to their 20? Either way, the whole system is ancient and needs revamping in this budget constrained era. Dive!Dive!

7/13/2011 1:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a new topic for your next post Joel. I'd be curious to see what the retired guys have to say about all the (extra) ribbons we have nowadays. Plus it might be interesting to see what other active duty guys at present, think about having a ribbon awarded for almost everything we do in life.

7/13/2011 2:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted on your blog about officers not screened to XO.. Here's a question. Why must a non-screened XO DH be de-nuked.. Cant they be given the option to do another DH tour, stay on the boats etc? Luckily I had 10+ years enlisted service and was at 23 years when this happened to me. So I could retire.. How many of the non-screened guys are forced to find another community to stay to their 20? Either way, the whole system is ancient and needs revamping in this budget constrained era. Dive!Dive! Allowing someone to serve a second DH tour only works when retention is lower than the goals set by big Navy. Every XO non-select who serves a 2nd DH tour is taking away a spot from an upcoming DIVO, and takes away a spot for another potential XO. While it isn't certain that a new DH will screen for XO, it is a certainty that the non-select will not.

7/13/2011 3:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another tangent, since warrant officers were brought up: I heard once that Rickover wanted nuke trained watchstanders to at least be warrant officers, but it didnt work out. Can anyone substantiate that...or just call bullshit

7/13/2011 5:35 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

While I am not fond of the idea of just kicking people out, what is the alternative? Are we to become like Star Trek where the Capt has command for 10 or more years? If so, how in the hell do you motivate people when so many of the jobs are just old farts who refuse to move on?

The Peter Principle is BS in up or out, save that O6s can die after many, many useless tours in the Pentagon. Look at what happens in the enlisted community. We allow year after year of dead weight to just be retained and not move up. I knew a CPO with a gold patrol pin who was never going beyond E7. Why did we keep him? Because we don't want up or out?

Wrong. Like it or love it, up or out keeps us moving forward. I'm ready to go when the Navy signals I am no longer needed. But I'll be damned if I want the Navy to keep everyone around at whatever job they feel comfortable with just so that the new guys have lower chances to promote.

I >loved<, absolutely >loved< being in command. I could easily have done it for another few years, just as Joel could have been Eng for a few. I am willing to bet, however, that no one wants to be XO forever. You cannot have it both ways.

7/13/2011 7:31 PM

Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

A gold patrol pin...I've only seen Seniors and Master Chiefs wearing them. You'll see an occasional line 06 wearing one or maybe a CWO or LDO (04) or better with one on. But that's about it.

Up or out works. Yes it is effective. As an E6, I like the fact that we have roughly five directions to set course when it's time to make a choice.

1. Make Chief and then try for Senior and Master. (My first choice)

2. Go CWO (2nd Choice)

3. Go LDO (3rd)

4. Rest on my other words, set on my ass as a 1st class and do nothing to advance til I hit my 20. (my last choice in life!)

5. ETS and go to work for Northrop Grumman, Kay and Associates Inc, General Dynamics or Raytheon. (my fourth choice til after retirement)

Another reason up or out works on the enlisted side is that it's a great way to send anyone home who's been to mast one too many times once too often. Same situation with anyone who's had more than one DUI in the last couple of years. This also includes those who don't take the time and effort to move up in life in both rate and billet. Make room for the guys who atleast want to try for something better in their careers. Hell our CREO indicates how many rates (31) are overmanned. That means you best start working smarter and faster to stay in and advance.

Up or Out isn't the most pleasant, but it does work.

7/14/2011 12:12 AM

Anonymous 610ET said...

Interesting comment finding fault with an E-7 CPO who likes going to sea. If you are not the COB or EDMC what difference does it make if your LCPO is E-7, 8 or 9?

Assuming he is performing of course.

7/14/2011 2:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mt1, I could very well be wrong, but it sounds like you're describing the "perform to serve" concept instead of the "up and out" system in place for O-gang.

7/15/2011 5:43 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

To the topic at hand, up-or-out refers specifically to a provision of law that requires O-3s and below who twice fail of selection to resign ... and O-4s - O-6s who fail of selection to-next higher rank to retire at times-in-service certain. It has absolutely nothing to do with command tenure, DH screening, or other screening and rotation matters while a person is serving ... nor with individual decisions to punch out on one's own when the writing on the bulkhead is clear.

Some suggest that this also goes on in private enterprise. True that some firms do expect individuals to progress through certain steps and may tell an employee that they're in the wrong line of work if they don't make the gates (law partner, for example). But the binary decision to let someone go is a bit different from having a series of mandatory gates, failure at any one of which forces resignation/retirement.

Good point about what happens if you pile up a bunch of pass-overs on active duty; doesn't that keep others from advancing. The Brit answer is no. Royal Navy retains these guys in specialized billets established to use their expertise but outside the mainstream entirely. They can create a logjam only for others of their ilk and in practice I don't think it's a problem.

Up-or-out is costly in terms of dollars and of human capital. It's one of those conventional wisdoms that's nottobechallenged lest its vacuity be discovered. It's a vaca sagrada.

7/15/2011 8:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see up or out as a system that is built for ambition and initiative. I could never understand why someone could be satisfied in the same job year after year. I see this mind set in the civilian world all the time. They are ok with being a truck driver or a welder their entire life. Although I didn't fully understand this until I reenlisted the first time, I could see then that if you wanted to advance your talents and skills, learn new skills, and eventually even find new talents, you had to move up. I never agreed with the mind set of keeping someone in that did not perform. I remember a MM2(SS) that had 15 yrs and had never been busted. Couldn't understand it.

One thing I did not like was when I received my comission, I was no longer allowed to serve on the boats. As a Warrant my career path was Div O, Div O, Div O, etc. I do understand the progression for the 1120's but I felt I could have contributed greatly to the effectiveness of a boat. Although I did have 2 great tours as a DCA on tenders. But my plan all along was 20 and out. It worked well for the most part and now I am in an industry that I had never heard of building a plant that is a bigger bomb than the O2 Gens.

I do believe that the Navy should offer an alternative to the O gangers that are being forced out. Maybe an Auxiliary somewhere? Guam?

CWO3 USN (ret)

7/15/2011 8:14 PM

Anonymous said...

The guy is absolutely fair, and there is no suspicion.

10/17/2011 10:27 AM


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