Is it my imagination or has the promotion board process entered the realm of the ridiculous? The professionals who must select individuals from a field of incredible talent do a superb job. The problem appears to occur once the selection process has concluded. The entire post-selection approval process seems to be broken. For example, the Navy line commander promotion board met 11-24 March 1997. The list finally was released on 28 August-more than five months after the promotion board adjourned! Each year it seems that the time between the actual selection and the announcement increases. Last year's 0-5 selection board met during the same time frame and the promotion list was published 9 July 1997.
This problem is not limited to the Navy; the Army and Air Force have experienced similar delays. The Army's 0-5 board was delayed from October 1996 to March 1997. The list was not published until mid-August.
While no one at my level is really saying why the process takes so long, it appears we have added yet another line item or two to the chop chain to ensure there are no further embarrassments for the military. The Tailhook check desk still will not die after six years; and added to that are the politically correct, minority, sexual-harassment, adultery, spouse-abuse, and the bad-check-writer desks who all must sanitize the list, so I am told. Unfortunately, because of today's zero-defect climate, the very few individuals who may have problems hold up the entire process for the other 99.9%. How far can we let this witch-hunt type process go?
With the paucity of U.S. senators and members of Congress who have had military experience, perhaps a misunderstanding exists about the importance of promotions to the military. Our only meaningful pay raises occur with promotions, which for most only happen every four to six years depending on pay grade. The yearly cost-of-living increases and longevity raises barely keep our pay ahead of inflation.
But more important, the Navy's up-or-out policy adds extreme pressure to the wait. The careers of thousands of service members hang in the balance, and making them wait months for promotion results generates a serious morale and quality-of-life issue that we must address now.
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