Saturday, August 1, 2009

Congratulations Chief Selectees!

The FY10 E-7 (Chief Petty Officer) selection board results are out (click here for the list).

I am happy to see several current and former shipmates on the list and offer my personal congratulations to Chiefs (Select) Romias, Blanding, Coffee, Distefano, Wangen, and Taunton.

For those who aren't familiar with the Navy ranks, getting selected for Chief is a major milestone in an enlisted sailor's career. Promotions below the rank of E-7 are based on taking an advancement exam. The Navy says, "Okay, we have quotas for 500 guys to promote to E-6 this time," and they rank order the guys who took the exam by the exam score and promote the top 500 (numbers are totally fictitious, just making up an example).

For promotion to E-7, it's the first time in an enlisted sailor's career that his or her service record gets looked at by a selection board. The guys still take an advancement exam in order to be declared "board eligible," but then the selection board looks in depth at their past performance evaluations and awards.

About this time every summer, the selection board results are announced, and the new chief selectees begin a period of intense training in Navy customs and traditions culminating in an initiation ceremony when they get officially promoted to chief in September.

You will notice a big difference in the sailor's appearance before and after the ceremony, too. Sailors E-6 and below wear utilities (hence the term "blue shirts" referring to sailors E-6 and below). Chief Petty Officers wear khaki uniforms like the officers do. So the promotion to E-7 marks a major crossover from the "blue shirt" to the "khaki," and a large number of new uniforms to be purchased at the uniform shop.

It's a tremendous honor to be selected for Chief. Chiefs are the backbone of the Navy. They have the experience of being around the block enough times and having lived through deployments and difficult situations and can use those experiences in leading their sailors. They also have the in depth knowledge and experience with their gear to be able to troubleshoot and fix it thousands of miles from any friendly ports for repairs.

I've written before about the career progression of a submarine officer. During a junior officer's first tour at sea on a submarine, he is technically "in charge" of a division of a dozen or more sailors, but it's really the Chief who is running the show. The Chief traditionally has the responsibility of training the junior officer on how to manage the division, and I will always be grateful for the chiefs like STSC(SS) Golliker who taught me very important lessons in leadership as a JO.

Congrats Chief Selectees!

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