Online guide to completing and improving your US Navy FITREPs and Evals
HOW SELECTION BOARDS
VIEW OFFICER FITREPS
guidance for officers preparing for selection boards.
The most significant factor in an officer's record is how he/she fares when ranked
against competing officers. This is generally the first item briefed and the most
influential in determining how board members vote. If an officer failed to break out
against his/her peers, explanatory comments are taken into consideration. A CO who
has two officers and gives both MPs makes it impossible for a board to make a
distinction between the officers, resulting in the board assuming an average
performance by both. The breakout is the strongest tool a reporting senior has to
differentiate among his/hers officers.
Both the reporting senior's average for and his/her cumulative average are
extremely influential factors. An officer's breakout history and grading averages are
the two criteria that require an "officer-to-officer" comparison. Because of this, they
are viewed as the "bottom line" assessment of the officer being reviewed.
a. Reporting period average. The reporting period average assists the voting
members in drawing conclusions on where the officer ranked among peers during a
reporting period, especially if the officer was one of several in a promotion category.
For instance, if an officer was one of five MPs but received a grade significantly
higher than the average, the board would deduce that the officer was probably the
highest or one of the highest ranked MPs.
b. Cumulative average. The reporting senior's average is a particularly useful
tool when the officer being graded was a 1 of 1. In this case, the only comparative
measure available to board members is the CO's cumulative average and where the
officer being reviewed compares with the senior's historical average.
3. Dead space.
Dead space refers to a block(s) left empty to the right of the given mark in the
promotion recommendation (i.e. if a reporting senior was reporting on one officer
and assigned him/her an MP and left the early promote (EP) block empty). Most
boards refer to this as an "air gap" and may view such records in a negative light.
Dead space coupled with above average marks result in a loss of credibility of the
4. Ranking within promotion categories.
When multiple officers fall within the same promotion recommendation category,
intra-category ranking provides valuable clarification to the promotion board. If a CO
lists six Lieutenants as MPs, narrative in the fitrep may be added that states exactly
where in the MP category the officer ranks (i.e., my number 1 MP). This may be used
to assist the officers in the upper part of the MP category without mention of those
officers in the lower part of the category. There are numerous ways to break out an
officer in the narrative, most of which will be briefed to the board. An officer may be
ranked against any set of competitors the reporting senior desires. Some
comparisons are more credible than others. A non-comprehensive list includes:
a. Number 1 of all LTs assigned
b. My number 1 MP
c. Number 1 Platoon Commander
d. Number 1 LT in his year group
e. Number 1 LT in the Navy
f. Best LT I have ever worked with
Improving or declining trends are easy for the board to track using the OSR/PSRs
and are a key tool in determining promotion viability. Ideally, an officer will display a
progression "from left to right" in both promotion category and grade averages. If
officers are frequently assigned to billets where they are ranked 1 of 1, it is
extremely important for them to display an improving trend in trait averages. To be
competitive, an officer should not display declining trends in trait grades or
breakouts. If an officer displays a declining trend, which is not intended by his
reporting senior, it should be explained in the fitrep narrative.
6. Goodbye kisses.
A goodbye kiss refers to the fitrep an officer receives upon departure from his/her
command. Although the detaching officer will almost always be 1 of 1, in the
comment section of the fitrep, the reporting senior could (and should if he/she wants
to help the officer) rank him/her against other command members in the narrative
(i.e. 1 of 15 of all LTs assigned to this command). A goodbye kiss of less than an
EP with at least maintenance of previous fitreps grades will likely be viewed in a
7. Last reporting period before the board.
The latest fitrep before any board is generally the most important fitrep in an officer's
record. The question repeatedly asked is "What has he/she done lately?" The latest
fitrep answers not only that question but also describe an officer's performance at
his/her most senior level and provides a last opportunity to display an improving
8. Hard/overseas/remote tours.
Where an officer has been stationed makes a difference to a board. While
continuous presence in one location is not necessarily viewed negatively, (assuming
the officer did a good job and demonstrated an improving trend) an officer's
willingness to take hard, overseas, and remote assignments is considered a
demonstration of dedication to the Navy and ability to operate in demanding, forward
environments. Real-world and operational experience carries a lot of weight with any
board and should be emphasized in the fitrep comments.
9. Length of reporting period.
All fitreps are not equal. If a fitrep covered only a few months, it will not carry the
weight of a fitrep, which covers a more extensive period. A newly reported officer
may not break out of the pack and a new commanding officer may reset the
command fitrep standard. Selection boards recognize these factors when weighing
the merits of such reports. Conversely, a newly reported officer who immediately
broke out is viewed extremely positively (i.e. he's "hitting the deck running.")
10. Consistency between the narrative and ranking.
Most boards spend a great deal of time trying to interpret a reporting senior's
comments and desired intention for the promotion of the officer. Ambiguous or
contradictory comments may result in an unintended promotion outcome.
11. Fiche 5 and other significant life events.
An officer may recover from a serious problem (i.e., DUI, failed PRTs, terrible fitreps,
etc.) if subsequent fitreps are extremely strong. Recovery from serious shortcomings
is easier with the passage of time and is more excusable the more junior the officer.