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View Full Version : Command At Sea Screening Process Flawed?



BURAWSKI
11-28-2014, 09:23 PM
Saw this column on Military Corruption.Com and thought that this should be commented on. This guy was prior enlisted and was previously an XO Afloat prior to selection to CO Afloat. The screening process for command is flawed. Maybe the command screening that worked in the past is no longer able to properly screen those for command at sea. Probably the best solution would to be initiate a study going back several years looking at these firings in detail and see what in the selection and training process can be revised:






MODERN-DAY "CAPTAIN BLIGH" RELIEVED
OF COMMAND - SKIPPER OF USS BOXER USED
ABUSIVE LANGUAGE - CAPT WAYNE BROWN
CURSED SUBORDINATE OFFICERS AS "STUPID
MOTHERFUCKERS" IN FRONT OF CREW - PUT
HANDS ON A FEMALE OFFICER'S RUMP - "TOXIC"
BROWN IS NAVY'S 12TH C.O. FIRED THIS YEAR© 2014 MilitaryCorruption.com
http://www.militarycorruption.com/Images/waynebrown.jpgThe captain didn't have his crew flogged with a cat-o-nine-tales, nor did he lash them to the top of the main-mast during a monsoon storm. But in many other ways, the skipper of the USS Boxer was a modern-day "Captain Bligh."
CAPT Wayne Brown has been relieved of command just 89 days after he assumed control of the Navy's San Diego-based amphibious assault ship. He was XO prior to winning promotion to the top officer's spot.
Now, Brown - a 28 year veteran and graduate of OCS - will be busy putting in his retirement papers and hoping he goes out the door without losing one of his four stripes.
A comprehensive investigation revealed that Brown was clearly out-of-control.
"You stupid motherfuckers!" Brown screamed at his subordinate officers, right in front of the crew. As for them, even the chiefs,,they were also objects of his invective and vitriol. The document, obtained by the Los Angeles TIMES through the Freedom of Information Act, detailed a laundry list of offenses that showed Brown to be one foul-mouthed, hard-ass son-of-a-bitch.

TROUBLE WITH THE WOMEN
Probably what finished the captain's naval career off was his inappropriate remarks and actions toward an unidentified female officer.
She claimed he made "suggestive remarks" to her and placed his hand on her hip and backside.
"If I was 20 years younger, you'd have a major problem on your hands," he reportedly leered. With other females, he allegedly questioned them as to their private sex lives and inquired as to whether they used birth control pills with their husbands and boyfriends.

POUNDS DESK WITH HIS FISTS
"Captain Brown has created a "hostile, offensive, and intimidating work environment," said REAR ADM Frank Ponds, boss of Expeditionary Strike Group 3. The flag officer said the Boxer's commander engaged in "abrasive, abusive and unprofessional conduct."
Ponds pulled the trigger on Brown and transferred him to shore duty, pending what, by all indications are, his swift retirement from the Fleet.
Brown, who reportedly pounded his desk with his fists and raged on in tirades of up to a half-hour, is keeping a low profile now, The screamer learned his lesson a little bit too late.

Stalwart
11-29-2014, 02:16 PM
If you read the whole investigation, it is pretty clear he was a poor CO and succumbed to both personal and professional issues.

Command Investigation
Sailor Bob: http://www.sailorbob.com/phpbb/download/file.php?id=1789

Overall, the Command Screening Board is not flawed and the vast majority of people that screen for Command are not relieved for cause (and the percentages of CO's relieved are pretty consistent going back decades ... there is just a lot of publicity now.)

Where there is a problem is the Performance Evaluation Process, there is a resistance of many (not all) Reporting Seniors to adequately document either:

-performance, or lack thereof
-potential for increased responsibility (promotion or command)
-specific shortcomings

Having sat promotion boards as a recorder, they are not voting on the person, they are voting on the record. If it is not part of the official record it is not briefed. If an individual on the board has knowledge of something they cannot share it with other board members (have seen this shut down a few times) ... that doesn't mean it does not impact that on single board members vote -- vote your conscience ... but it is not part of what the entire rooms knows. Look at HAG, on paper she was an incredible SWO and CO ... in person a lot of people knew she was toxic ... but if you look at her record it was really damn impressive.

BURAWSKI
11-30-2014, 01:48 AM
If you read the whole investigation, it is pretty clear he was a poor CO and succumbed to both personal and professional issues.

Command Investigation
Sailor Bob: http://www.sailorbob.com/phpbb/download/file.php?id=1789

Overall, the Command Screening Board is not flawed and the vast majority of people that screen for Command are not relieved for cause (and the percentages of CO's relieved are pretty consistent going back decades ... there is just a lot of publicity now.)

Where there is a problem is the Performance Evaluation Process, there is a resistance of many (not all) Reporting Seniors to adequately document either:

-performance, or lack thereof
-potential for increased responsibility (promotion or command)
-specific shortcomings

Having sat promotion boards as a recorder, they are not voting on the person, they are voting on the record. If it is not part of the official record it is not briefed. If an individual on the board has knowledge of something they cannot share it with other board members (have seen this shut down a few times) ... that doesn't mean it does not impact that on single board members vote -- vote your conscience ... but it is not part of what the entire rooms knows. Look at HAG, on paper she was an incredible SWO and CO ... in person a lot of people knew she was toxic ... but if you look at her record it was really damn impressive.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to read the final report as the message I get is access denied on that website. I would be interested in reading it though.

BURAWSKI
12-01-2014, 09:27 AM
It still appears to me that there is a problem with the way CO's are being selected for command at sea. You would think that in 2014 the percentages of CO's being fired would be lower as compared to those going back decades. I mean if you look at that amount of training involved, which is probably a lot more than what was accomplished years ago. The disconnect needs to be addressed with what is reflected on the fitness report, versus their actual performance, and if that person is toxic, then some way to accurately identify that fact needs to be developed to prevent these firings from occurring. That would be a defining variable that needs to be incorporated somehow into the command at sea selection process. Not only into the command at sea selection process but also into the CMC selection process, since it is obvious that a number of senior enlisted have been determined eligible for this program that obviously were not. It isn't being done and I am curious as to why the Navy hasn't found a way to resolve this issue.

BlackShoe
12-08-2014, 04:45 PM
It still appears to me that there is a problem with the way CO's are being selected for command at sea. You would think that in 2014 the percentages of CO's being fired would be lower as compared to those going back decades. I mean if you look at that amount of training involved, which is probably a lot more than what was accomplished years ago. The disconnect needs to be addressed with what is reflected on the fitness report, versus their actual performance, and if that person is toxic, then some way to accurately identify that fact needs to be developed to prevent these firings from occurring. That would be a defining variable that needs to be incorporated somehow into the command at sea selection process. Not only into the command at sea selection process but also into the CMC selection process, since it is obvious that a number of senior enlisted have been determined eligible for this program that obviously were not. It isn't being done and I am curious as to why the Navy hasn't found a way to resolve this issue.
The Navy does have a way to resolve this issue, it's not so far different from what you've suggested. FitReps solicit all the information you mention, and represent the majority of what is reviewed at the selection board. The catch is that FitReps are very rarely truthful, and sometimes outright deceitful because reporting seniors don't want to be the guy that kills a shipmate's career with a turn of the pen. Some may be worried about hurting themselves because they didn't provide (or document) the required counseling that has to come before an adverse FitRep, and issuing that negative report would set them up for a bad time with the local IG rep. The tough question is whether the previous commanders/commodores that supervised people like CAPT Brown, Jay Wylie, or HAG should be held accountable for helping promote those people.

Over the years, the numbers of firings have remained pretty consistent around 1-2%- an enviable number by any standard. So why hasn't it changed as teaching changes? Standards have evolved, too. The guy at the root of this thread (CAPT Brown) would have been perfectly normal when I came in, and most of what's in the report wouldn't have batted an eye, except the reported flirtations and physical contact. Now, he's also in trouble for being mean to his Dept Heads, and writing emails that made people sad.

What isn't apparent to folks is that there are 98% or more of the Navy's COs that are doing well, or at least not screwing up.

Rusty Jones
12-08-2014, 04:58 PM
The Navy does have a way to resolve this issue, it's not so far different from what you've suggested. FitReps solicit all the information you mention, and represent the majority of what is reviewed at the selection board. The catch is that FitReps are very rarely truthful, and sometimes outright deceitful because reporting seniors don't want to be the guy that kills a shipmate's career with a turn of the pen. Some may be worried about hurting themselves because they didn't provide (or document) the required counseling that has to come before an adverse FitRep, and issuing that negative report would set them up for a bad time with the local IG rep. The tough question is whether the previous commanders/commodores that supervised people like CAPT Brown, Jay Wylie, or HAG should be held accountable for helping promote those people.

Over the years, the numbers of firings have remained pretty consistent around 1-2%- an enviable number by any standard. So why hasn't it changed as teaching changes? Standards have evolved, too. The guy at the root of this thread (CAPT Brown) would have been perfectly normal when I came in, and most of what's in the report wouldn't have batted an eye, except the reported flirtations and physical contact. Now, he's also in trouble for being mean to his Dept Heads, and writing emails that made people sad.

What isn't apparent to folks is that there are 98% or more of the Navy's COs that are doing well, or at least not screwing up.

To be honest, I don't even think the best screening programs would help. It's my understanding that midshipmen - whether they're ROTC, Academy, or OCS - generally don't want to be SWO's. They all want staff corps, restricted line, aviation, or submarine - and because not everyone who wants slots in those communities can get them, this which forces the SWO community to be the dumping ground for everyone else that was left over. Eventually, those who will command ships are selected from this group.

I remember my wife begging me to drop papers for OCS after finishing my degree; and I told her that the ONLY way I'd be interested in a commission in the Navy is via the LDO/CWO route. Hats off to the SWOs who stick around long enough to command a ship; I've watched department heads on destroyers go crazy because of their high levels responsibilities.

Stalwart
12-13-2014, 12:52 PM
The catch is that FitReps are very rarely truthful, and sometimes outright deceitful because reporting seniors don't want to be the guy that kills a shipmate's career with a turn of the pen.

Very true, instead of integrity to the purpose of the report people will put flowery words that sound good, give a performance trait average that is at or just below the summary group average and still recommend for promotion & command.


The tough question is whether the previous commanders/commodores that supervised people like CAPT Brown, Jay Wylie, or HAG should be held accountable for helping promote those people.

Holding previous RS's is tricky; what if someone's behavior truly goes off the rails once in command (rare, usually it is gradual)? But on the contrary, while I never served with HAG, I have heard that as far back as her first DH tour she was what she was and it eventually got her relieved for cause.


Over the years, the numbers of firings have remained pretty consistent around 1-2%- an enviable number by any standard.

All the research I have seen supports that the 1-2% average goes back in proportion to the number of commands as far back as the late 1950's. There was a small uptick in the very early 90's (possibly correlating to Tailhook.) What has in many cases changed is the reason for relief -- few people run their ships aground and more and more are getting in trouble for DUI's (which in thepast didn't really get you fired if noone got hurt), adultery, embarrasing the Navy or tyranical behavior.


So why hasn't it changed as teaching changes? Standards have evolved, too. The guy at the root of this thread (CAPT Brown) would have been perfectly normal when I came in, and most of what's in the report wouldn't have batted an eye, except the reported flirtations and physical contact. Now, he's also in trouble for being mean to his Dept Heads, and writing emails that made people sad.

Most of CAPT Brown's behavior seems to be a guy acting like it was still the 1970's, 80's or early 90's. Yes, it is the Navy and it isn't supposed to be kinder-care. But the standards and expectations of leadership have changed & when they do you either change along with them or find yourself on the outside looking in.


What isn't apparent to folks is that there are 98% or more of the Navy's COs that are doing well, or at least not screwing up.

It is sad that most people ignore that. That 1-2% doesn't sully the whole process ... IMHO.



It's my understanding that midshipmen - whether they're ROTC, Academy, or OCS - generally don't want to be SWO's.

I think that depends. Most of the SWO's I know want to be a SWO. Some bemoan it, but that is still by-and-large what the Navy is all about. I have also known some who truly hated it and wanted to redesignate to anything at their first opportunity.