One of the most important and lasting things you will do as a commanding officer (CO) is to write quality evaluations (evals) and fitness reports (FitReps) for your chiefs and officers. These documents not only will have immediate and resounding effects in your chiefs’ mess and wardroom, they will echo for years in the lives of the recipients. More important, the future of the service is drawn by a commander’s hand as he or she decides what to put onto paper for each individual.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to go far in a career without becoming aware of at least one person who has inexplicably and persistently fallen short in fulfilling his or her potential. In many cases, the problem can be traced back to a single, unfortunate eval or FitRep, which (and sometimes despite the author’s intent) turned out to be a “head shot.”