Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby Mjölnir » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:39 pm

I was really happy to hear of a friend & former colleague getting orders to command. It did get me wondering, just anecdotally (I have no numbers) it seems like many of the prior enlisted members of the IWO (Cryptology specifically) do not stay long enough to compete for command. Any ideas or thoughts?

My own personal algorithm:

I commissioned at 12 yrs prior service, am knocking on the door of 25 yrs total service (next week). I am currently a LCDR will probably be in zone for the FY19 CDR board. My goal remains command but factors that are playing hard into the decision:

-My daughter is 5, has multiple medical issues & we are in EFMP Cat 5 (I am currently in the DC area) and can stay here and I have a very good record thus far, I can remain competitive. We could only be stationed in DC or San Diego to have medical care for her conditions. We were already in DC so will homestead in DC.
-I would be much more competitive if I went to the waterfront, which would involve geobach.
-With my daughter having surgery on her skull every 3-4 months for the next few years, geobach isn't palatable for me nor fair to my wife
-10 1/2 of my 12 years enlisted were FMF duty, deployment intensive.
-My first 10 years in the Navy were sea duty (subs, air and then surface)
-18 deployments to date (silver star & two bronze on the SSDR, 4 CARs)
-I started the commissioned portion of my career later than many, and am not nor have I been an LDO. Most people with a 1st grade age child are not at the same point in their career. If it works out and I get selected for O5 & O5 command, great. If not, going to Pvt to LCDR or CDR (repeating LCpl and Cpl 3 times courtesy of two NJPs on my first enlistment) is a pretty good run.

Bottom line for me: I do desire for command but 5 years after I retire, I would hope people will remember me and if I was a good guy or bad, but my daughter will know I love her to the moon and back.
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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby COMEVIL » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:57 pm

Looks like you answered your own question.

A note on command, from someone who has never held it. There are LOTS of ways to influence, mentor, and lead Sailors. Command is just one.

v/r

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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby O-4's hate me » Sun Oct 16, 2016 7:42 am

You certainly answered your own question. Family is probably the biggest factor for everyone, and prior enlisted get to retirement eligibility quicker than the rest of us.

For an alternate perspective, I'd say aspiration for command is relative to the respect we have for the position and those individuals we've seen in it.
- If we pick the best and brightest for command and they do well, then it will be something others strive for.
- If the selection process is shady or looks shady, then the position is devalued.
- If those in command don't exhibit qualities we want to emulate, then the position is diminished.
- If the community doesn't value those in command, then the position is diminished.

Either command is esteemed, or it is not. There's little middle ground. Not unrelated, I just read an article (ok, just the headline) that said kids don't want to grow up to be president anymore.
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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby Mjölnir » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:36 pm

Thanks for the replies.

As you both said, in some ways I answered the question ... for my situation. As I said, the large majority of prior service officers I have observed are not staying to compete for command, nor CDR, and in quite a few cases not LCDR. Granted, my current CO is a prior E6 now O6 (on his second command) and was really pumped to hear about a prior CPO who is going to command in Japan. It seemed a bit of a trend ... was wondering if anyone else noted it?

And yes, there are numerous ways we can influence people and not be the CO, it is something I still aspire to do though.
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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby Sum1 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:46 am

As a prior E-6 who found out recently he was selected for O-4, I can honestly say that if you had asked me 5 or 7 years ago if I wanted to command I very likely would have said "no."

Today, though? After having the opportunity to serve as part of ship's company on a DDG, and now on the staff of a Combatant Command... my thoughts on it have shifted pretty significantly. I've had the privilege of serving with some amazing men and women of all ranks and from all services, and now I feel more invested than ever to do my part. The perspective shift I experienced going from a tactical unit (DDG) to a four-star major staff (CCMD) was incredible, and it just highlights that we don't have everything figured out (at any level). People like us need to step up and try to help push solutions to problems, and more importantly, anticipate what challenges may face our service and the Joint warfighter 5, 10, 15+ years from now and push solution development NOW.

But I digress. I think if there is something that would cause me to forgo pursuing O-5 and Command, it would be family (as others have said). I promised my significant other recently that if she gives me the next 5 years then I would let her decide where we go for the next 10 after that, which may be back to Seattle and out of the Navy. If so, then so be it. One person can only be asked to sacrifice so much until the other needs to step up.
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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby TASmith » Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:05 am

I don't post much, but truly find the question worthy of exploring. Perhaps not the why of not sticking around for command, but the not sticking around period.

At over 28 years in, and over 13 of those enlisted, I can tell you that I still have more push left in me that most of the young Sailors I see today. I am absolutely honored to be serving in an XO tour and have discussed with my wife that I'll continue to serve under four simple conditions:
1) It is still fun
2) It is still about service
3) I am still relevant
4) I am still promotable (up or out, no hanging around for multiple looks for me)

IMHO the problem most priors find, other than the previously noted family priorities, is that with age comes a certain inflexibility. A leader finally encounters the latest organizational change, that proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, and is unwilling to adapt; forgets that it is "not about me". Once this happens, service is no longer fun, and a leader will quickly find him/her self irrelevant.

I understand the bit about the call to aspire to command and if selected at some point would consider it an unbelievable honor. In the mean time, I would suggest that we Mustangs continue to remember where we have come from, and aspire to lead from the front, whether in command, DH, Staff officer, or Divo. Keep it fun and continue to train our replacements. This may inspire some few of us to stick around for command and, at minimum, will change some young Sailors' lives for the better through our example.
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Re: Prior Enlisted, Why Do So Few Stay For Command?

Postby Mjölnir » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:18 am

TASmith wrote:I don't post much, but truly find the question worthy of exploring. Perhaps not the why of not sticking around for command, but the not sticking around period.

At over 28 years in, and over 13 of those enlisted, I can tell you that I still have more push left in me that most of the young Sailors I see today. I am absolutely honored to be serving in an XO tour and have discussed with my wife that I'll continue to serve under four simple conditions:
1) It is still fun
2) It is still about service
3) I am still relevant
4) I am still promotable (up or out, no hanging around for multiple looks for me)

IMHO the problem most priors find, other than the previously noted family priorities, is that with age comes a certain inflexibility. A leader finally encounters the latest organizational change, that proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back, and is unwilling to adapt; forgets that it is "not about me". Once this happens, service is no longer fun, and a leader will quickly find him/her self irrelevant.

I understand the bit about the call to aspire to command and if selected at some point would consider it an unbelievable honor. In the mean time, I would suggest that we Mustangs continue to remember where we have come from, and aspire to lead from the front, whether in command, DH, Staff officer, or Divo. Keep it fun and continue to train our replacements. This may inspire some few of us to stick around for command and, at minimum, will change some young Sailors' lives for the better through our example.


Very good points. I do think with many people there gets to be the 'straw' ... for some it isn't necessarily that it isn't 'about them' but that they do shift priorities, and yes ... I have seen many who cannot accept that things change.

For me ... my conditions right now (at 25 years) seems to be:

0) My family supports me and I can still support them (emotionally not financially -- I don't want to be married to my job)
1) I enjoy going to work (I personally avoid the word 'fun' since a lot of what we do isn't 'fun' ...)
2) I am still relevant (which for me is if my skills can still be used in the changing dynamic of our community)
2) It is still about service
4) I am still competitive / promotable

BT BT

Your avatar scared me ;)
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