Throwback Thursday Classic Post – How to Evaluate the Promotion Potential of a Billet/Position

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Recently I advertised the USUHS Commandant position. A reader asked:

Any thoughts on whether you think this is a position that would make an O5 competitive for O6?

This is a common issue. A position is advertised, but you want to know if it will help get your promoted to O5 or O6 if you take it. Here is how I’d evaluate that situation.

First, you need to contact the incumbent in that position now, if possible. You’re going to need information that they have.

Now that you’ve contacted that person, you need to ask them some questions:

  • Did they or anyone before them promote to O5/O6 while they were in the position or shortly thereafter? In other words, has taking the position led to promotion for those who’ve already done it? If the answer is yes, that is telling and indicative that the position advances people’s careers. If the answer is no, you should probably look elsewhere for a career advancing position.
  • How large is their competitive group on their fitreps? You want a position with a large competitive group so that you can perform well and break out to the right with MP and EP fitreps. Competitive EP fitreps are probably the #1 most important ingredient for successful promotion, so if the position has a small competitive group or leads to a 1/1 fitrep, it would be a mark against that position’s potential to get you promoted.
  • Were they able to get EP fitreps? They might not tell you this, but if they are willing to give you this info it can help you gauge the potential for you to get EP fitreps while doing the job.
  • What do your mentors think about you taking the position? We all need mentors, and I always ask mine what they think when a potential position is in my crosshairs. If they don’t think it is a good idea, I usually pass on it.

That’s it. Those are the things I’d look at when trying to evaluate whether or not a position will help you get promoted. Most of the information needs to come from the incumbent or people who have previously done the job.

Playing the Game and Managing Your Military Career

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What better to do during a global pandemic than listen to a screencast about managing your career! Here are the PPT slides I used for it:

Playing the Game – Managing Your Military Career

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – Did You Really Fail to Select for Promotion?

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If your name was not on the promotion list, you probably weren’t selected for promotion. There is, however, a chance that you actually were selected for promotion but your name was removed after the promotion board. Why would this happen?

After promotion boards there are some systems that are “scrubbed” to ensure that no adverse or reportable information exists for the officers selected by a promotion board or by an administrative board (the CO/XO/CMO/OIC board, for example). Here is a chart that shows you the systems that are checked:

Systems Scrubbed

As you can see, if you have problems with your security clearance, the Inspector General, Naval Criminal Investigative Services, or any legal issues, your name could be removed and your promotion put on hold. How do you tell if this happened to you?

First, go to BUPERS On-Line and click on the link for “Advancements/Selection Boards” as pointed out with the large arrow:

Advancements Screenshot

Now you should see a screen similar to this one:

Results screenshot

As you can see, I was a “SELECT” for O6. If you actually were a non-select for promotion you’d see a “N” where my “S” is. If you were “scrubbed” from the promotion list, you’ll see an “H” for HOLD.

If you don’t see anything, then you didn’t fail to select. You probably weren’t looked at by the board. This most often happens to people who trained in the NADDS program in civilian training programs and weren’t on active duty for a whole year. Sometimes, though, these people will show up on the reserve promotion lists, so don’t lose hope until you check that list as well. As of now, the FY19 LCDR list for the reserves isn’t out yet.

If you are on hold, I’d contact your Detailer to try and find out why.

March 2020 Medical Corps Newsletter

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Seriously…the March 2020 Medical Corps Newsletter is packed:

  • Message from the Corps Chief
  • Transition from Active Component to Reserve Component
  • Junior Officer Spotlight – LCDR Bridget Cunningham
  • I’m Just a Bill(et)
  • Fresh Whole Blood Transfusion in the 2D Marine Division
  • A Look Back at Navy Physician Astronauts
  • The New Medical Corps Career Progression Slide (PDF version, PPT version) – What Does It Mean to You?
  • Meet the New Career Planner – CAPT Anthony Keller
  • Understanding New Language in the O6 Promotion Board Convening Order
  • Senior Leader’s Interview – CAPT Kim Davis, 4th Fleet Surgeon

The FY21 O6 Promo Board Convening Order Emphasizes Operational Medicine and Readiness

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What better way to spend a Valentine’s Day evening when your wife is out of town than this…

There are some new things in the FY21 O6 convening order. Grab both the FY20 and FY21 below and let’s take a look page by page:

FY-20 O6 Staff Corps Convening Order

FY-21 O6 Staff Corps Convening Order

The Method to My Valentine’s Day Madness

I went through both convening orders and noted the pages in the FY21 order that represent a substantial difference from last year’s order. I focused only on impact on the medical community (MC, NC, MSC, DC). In other words, if something was different for the JAG Corps or Supply Corps, I didn’t highlight it. Any pages not highlighted are functionally the same.

Page 2 of FY21

  • The promotion opportunities changed:
    • Medical Corps went from 81% to 91%
    • Dental Corps from 89% to 90%
    • Medical Service Corps from 60% down to 50% (bummer)
    • Nurse Corps stayed the same at 50%

Page 8 of FY21

This is where the meat starts, the section entitled “Medical Community Considerations”:

The bold portions highlighted below are new from FY20:

Knowledge and proven performance/experience in a variety of settings including operational medicine, joint medical operations, and current garrison health care and fleet/FMF support is necessary.

Additionally, Navy Medicine greatly values joint experience and formal education, including JPME, with knowledge and experience in a variety of settings including joint medical operations and current garrison health care delivery and operational support initiatives.

Do you see a pattern here?

KEY MESSAGE – Navy Medicine is increasing its focus on fleet/FMF/operational support. Everyone needs to be operationally relevant to promote to O6.

Pages 9-10 of FY21

The following sentence is brand new:

Excellence in operational support settings should receive special consideration as Navy Medicine shifts greater focus to readiness and operational support.

Which brings me back to…

KEY MESSAGE – Navy Medicine is increasing its focus on fleet/FMF/operational support. Everyone needs to be operationally relevant to promote to O6.

Here is some more brand new stuff in bold:

Best and fully qualified officers for the rank of captain will be those with proven leadership experience who have demonstrated experience and expertise across the spectrum of military medicine, especially inclusive of operational experience and operational platforms. With Navy Medicine’s renewed focus on operational support and readiness, our future leaders must have shown leadership excellence in those activities.

Oh boy! I feel like I’m beating a particular drum…

KEY MESSAGE – Navy Medicine is increasing its focus on fleet/FMF/operational support. Everyone needs to be operationally relevant to promote to O6.

Read that again, people:

With Navy Medicine’s renewed focus on operational support and readiness, our future leaders must have shown leadership excellence in those activities.

MUST have shown. That’s a strong statement!

The Bottom Line

KEY MESSAGE – Navy Medicine is increasing its focus on fleet/FMF/operational support. Everyone needs to be operationally relevant to promote to O6.

Throwback Thursday Classic Post – You Should Care About Promotion Board Precepts and Convening Orders

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Whenever a promotion board starts, the members are provided two items to guide them as they decide who to promote, the board precept and the convening order. These documents are available on-line and should be used to figure out how to promote and write your fitrep.

The Board Precept

The precept is released in December and can be seen anytime afterwards. For example, if you go to the FY21 O4 Staff Corps Promotion Board page and click on the link titled “SecNav Approved Precept” you’ll get the board precept even though this board hasn’t started yet.

The Convening Order

The convening order for a promotion board is not released until it starts. If you monitor the board page closely, you’ll usually be able to get it within 1-2 days after the board begins. I was able to download the FY21 O6 board convening order on Tuesday of this week (2 days ago), the day it started. You just click the link that reads “Board Convening Order”, like in this image below for the FY19 O4 Staff board:

Convening Order

Incidentally, this is how I always find out the promotion opportunity for all the boards and post it on the blog. It is in the convening order.

Why You Should Care

You should care about the precept and convening order because they tell you how to promote to the next rank. Go to this page and download them from the most recent boards of your next rank. You can see all the different boards circled in red here:


Click on the board for the next rank you’ll be competing for, and download the precept and convening order. If the board hasn’t happened yet (like the FY21 O4 board), then you’ll have to look at last year’s convening order (FY20).

Use these documents for two things. First, to figure out how to promote. For example, I deconstructed a past O6 convening order here.

Second, use them to come up with wording for your fitrep bullets, as discussed here where I showed you how to pull phrases for your block 41.

The Bottom Line

  1. Go to this page.
  2. Get the precept and convening order for your next rank. You might have to go to last year’s board for the convening order if the board hasn’t started yet.
  3. Use them to figure out how to get promoted and for writing your fitrep.