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CY04 Chief Master Sergeant Evaluation Board

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Please allow me to preface my comments with the following:
The perspectives I’ve provided below are not the views of the Air Force, but purely my views based on my personal experience as a board member. I am not permitted to discuss specific proceeding, but I would like to discuss the process.

Le t me start by saying the selection process, in my opinion, was as fair as the Air Force can possibly make it without spending 6 months or more, openly discussing each and every record in-depth. With that said, an open-discussion process could also be contaminated by the board member with the strongest personality. The current process has been in place for many years and like many before me, I looked for weaknesses and flaws to help improve the process, but was overwhelmed with its solid structure and fairness. The Colonels and CMSgts selected for this year’s board were extremely intelligent and professional as I’m sure they are every year.

Please review the attached briefing slides provided to board members by the Board Secretariat for all the criteria we considered when scoring the promotion records.

As briefed in the attached slides, board members score each record independently, removing any opportunity for any single board member to influence the others. Unless a “split” occurred, the grading was completely silent. We standardized our grading by first practicing with 10 actual records from the CY00 CMSgt board and then graded 40 more actual records from CY04. We discussed, in-depth, each split for a total of 2 sessions and 50 records. This process helped refine our grading and minimize splits. The charge each board member read prior to assuming board member duties clearly defined the task coupled with the following oath:

“I solemnly swear that I will
without prejudice or partiality
having in view both the special fitness of the NCOs
and the efficiency and effectiveness
of the United States Air Force
perform the duties imposed upon me.”

I would like to a take a few minutes now to provide you with my own personal observations. Although they are my own views, I had the general feeling that all board members this year had the same or similar thoughts. Knowing the grading scale of 6-10 in ½ point increments, a record started out at 7.5 (average) and worked up or down depending on the record. The CMSgt Board is extremely competitive since almost all candidates had their PME, CCAF, appropriate decorations and had firewalled 5 EPRs. We as board members were charge to find the candidates with the best leadership potential and grade records based on the “whole person concept.” So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty…

- Although the Board Secretariat does an outstanding job ensuring individual records are complete and accurate, but limited by local MPF inputs. It’s essential for an individual to have a complete and accurate promotion folder

-Promotion Folder
-- Request and review advance copies of your folder
-- Verify what AFPC sends you; identify and resolve inaccuracies
-- The personnel record (UPRG) at the local MPF is NOT your promotion folder and local MPF records may NOT look like the record at AFPC.
(see Atch slides; slide 33, for simple procedures to get copy of your promotion folder)

- Promotion to SMSgt does not begin when you are a “TIG eligible MSgt”
-- Promotion folders contain the last 10 years of performance reports; don’t be confused by the last 5 EPR WAPS calculations.
-- Although younger grade performance reports such as… SrA and SSgt didn’t hold as much weight, records were still evaluated and accomplishments/weaknesses and influenced overall board grading

-PME is part of the whole person concept – this is where your leadership pillar can help or hurt your score
  -- If you did not have PME complete, it sent a huge message to the board about leadership potential
  -- Also, I found including SNCOA correspondence “enrollment” comment in a report and then including “completion” inputs sometimes 2 – 3 years later sent mixed/negative messages. Bottom line, if you make a statement that you are enrolled in PME, be sure the next report indicates completion. Early completion, numbers of days or months early were positive, so get enrolled early and get it done early… it’s that simple

-Education is important
  --A person should complete CCAF before reaching MSgt… it’s the way of the future
  --If you want to stand out/ahead of your peers, get your CCAF done early
  --If you include statements such as… “only lacks 3 more classes to complete degree,” don’t include “graduated CCAF” 5-6 years later in a report …it sent a procrastination message
  --If a candidate is completing second or third degree…say it…don’t force board member to speculate
  -- Bachelor and Master Degrees gave some (not a lot) edge, but candidates must be careful not to give the perception of a “professional student” (who’s helping the troops). Also, degree must be somewhat related to individual’s career or little consideration was given

- Decoration history is important
-- The MSM is reserved for those who achieve greater things and have a higher level of responsibility…

-- If a MSgt PCSs with less than an MSM, perhaps he or she did not have higher responsibility or did not achieve great things…or both. The AFI does not set a minimum time for PCS, retirement, separatation or PCA medals, although, short periods from one decoration to another were considered

-- It was good to see that overall, supervisors were submitting extended tour decorations for worthy individuals (individuals with strong reports). Some may have been overlooked or intentionally not submitted; either way there was a message sent.

      --- Decoration “gaps” sent wrong message…some times 5 or 6 years with no decoration forced board members to assume the worst…. take care of your people!

-- Decorations for Outstanding Achievement carried positive weight

- Awards are an effective way to distinguish between eligibles with similar potential
-- Always include special individual and group honors in EPRs
-- Don’t forget honors bestowed by the community and other organizations
-- No award was too small to include in a report
-- Annual awards (squadron, group, wing, etc) carried more weight
-- Functional awards (those awarded within one’s own AFSC) were good, but cross-functional awards stood out more…that is, those awards individuals compete for other than job oriented i.e. NCO, SNCO, 12 OAY, Sijan, etc.

- Leadership is important and should be obvious in the record
-- Additional-duty 1st Sgt over a large group (show the numbers) is a great way to prove an individuals leadership capability

-- Just because an individual fills a one-deep management position doesn’t mean their actions didn’t impact large numbers in a leadership role. Supervisors should capture that in the EPR

-- Just showing an individual’s span-of-control in the job description was not enough…on the back of the EPR, the word picture needs to describe leadership results and impact to the unit, wing or higher

- Stratification is important, but needs to be justified
-- “My #1 SNCO” is not nearly as meaningful as “My #1 of 110 SNCOs”

-- An individual award (e.g. SNCO of the Year) helps substantiate stratification

- Stratification should be in comparison to like rank/category of rank., i.e., “#4 of 210 MSgts”, “#3 of 385 SNCOs in the wing”…percentages are OK, but I felt it is better to give concrete picture with raw numbers rather than make the board member do math to convert percentages

- Stratification within or among one’s own office when the individual was the ranking SNCO didn’t carry much weigh

- Cross-functional stratifications were positive, compare to all SNCOs instead of all instructors or radio operators, for example...although any strat was better than no strat

Side note: If I were king for a day, I would get rid of stratifications completely…they have gotten out of control…seems like everyone is “# 1 of something”. My experience on the board left me confused about a lot of stratifications; they were vague…and some deceiving. We need to re-look at our stratifications…why are we stratifying, who are we stratifying and most importantly, should we be stratifying?

- EPR space is a limited commodity, don’t waste it…I CANNOT overstate this!
-- EPR bullets should be action oriented with results and impact – avoid flowery modifiers…they take up space and may detract from quality of the report (especially if overused - looks like filler)

-- Subjective commentary should be kept to a minimum, i.e., “hard charging, superior leader for all to emulate”; I was seeking facts (actions/results). I found this in a lot in opening bullets of each section. Need strong impact in every line, especially in Senior Rater’s block

-- Write EPRs with the strongest bullets at the bottom; highest-level achievements belong in the highest Indorser’s comment area

-- Don’t hide the best achievements, awards and other honors

-- Quarterly/annual awards, DG at PME, Career Field Specific awards, etc

-- Use left margin to your advantage; a line that begins “SNCO of the Year…” or “Distinguished Graduate…” catches attention

- Duty Titles were not near as important as what was written in the job description block. Make sure it accurately reflects all your duties
-- Key duties and responsibilities should clearly state the level of responsibility

-- Same job description block for multiple years sent negative message (it’s ok to change your job description as your responsibilities change….and they usually do every year)

-- Progressively increased responsibilities is a good sign you are growing/maturing

-- Don’t get wrapped up in what job title you have or what we call your position….what I wanted to see was what you were responsible for and how well you were doing it!

- Homesteading and job steading may be perceived as lacking in breadth of experience
-- Staying in one job for an extended period limits your opportunity to expand your breadth of experience. If you at least move jobs within a geographic area you are better able to take on varied responsibilities (potentially gain responsibility as well)

-- Similarly, if you change geographic area (and of course jobs) you are better able to broaden your experience

-- There were some cases were it was acceptable to remain at the same base for several years

For instance, a base where squadron, group, wing and MAJCOM opportunities were available such a Randolph, Scott, Hurlburt…but in these cases, job descriptions were closely scrutinized. If the job was the same year after year, it held negative regard

- Volunteerism and participation on base, in military organizations and in the community are important. They are additional opportunities to lead others…take advantage of them and give back.
-- Organizations such as Top 3, AFSA, AFA, etc were good to belong to and even better if individual held an office with a leadership role

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I would like to reiterate these views are my own and not necessarily those of other board members or the Air Force. I would like to point out a few things that caught my eye as both positive and/or negative

Bullets like:

- My #7 of 85 SMSgts; #9 of 123 SNCOs---made me assume there are better MSgts (7 vs. 9 when including MSgts)
- Definitely in top 10!---I could only assume the individual was #10
- #2 of 22 I have seen in my career! coming from a LT was weak since that career was less then 6 years
- Immediate block does not do him justice…not sure what that meant, but had negative flavor
- #1 of 37 “box kickers” in the wing; supervises and manages 36 “box kickers”---weak stratification based on rank
- He’s among the finest! Not that he is the best, just among the finest
- Definitely ready for the top 1% club—made the Chief rank sound superficial and shallow
- His leadership skills were “Super sized!” Cute, but I recommend avoiding cliché’s (sports, McDonalds in this case, etc)
- This command’s ranking SNCO---What does this tell me? That the individual can’t get promoted? Is he a high time SMSgt?
- Selected as the # 1 SMSgt, instructor, evaluator of the AFA Chapter XXX---Honestly, how many of those could there be?
- “Highly qualified,” “Honor Guard” and “Take Charge” are 3 ways one might describe him—talk about deception
- Like Teddy Roosevelt, carries a big stick and ready to complete any job—I saw this in a negative context…. like a leadership style using punishment and fear to attempt motivation
- Send TSgt XXXX to the SNCOA---this is a waste, first of all, board members can not make SNCOA selections, secondly, TSgts can’t go to the SNCOA! There’s really no need to put “send to SNCOA in an EPR”…I took it as filler
- #1 of 126…..eligibles for promotion—does this mean the individual has high time in grade/service? Are there some non-eligibles better?
- Top 1 % of 180 SNCOs I’ve seen in 24 years---first of all…. that would equate to # 2, but only seeing 180 SNCOs in 24 years...something didn’t jive here
- #2 of 110 SNCOs…None better!—(Second to none)—Obviously someone is better…this I thought was humorous
- One of my units top SMSgts—too vague…. no creditability
- Promote to E-9---Although I dislike the “he/she is an E-9 not a Chief” the bullet could’ve been worded stronger
- #1 of 90 SNCOS….as SNCO of the Quarter—tricky stratification, but got me to double take
- Groom for Chief---This told me the individual was not ready yet to be Chief
- I want to send a clear message! —this bullet really got my attention coming from a CMSgt
- Best of the best #3 of 8---again, the two parts contradict themselves…best of the best should be #1

The following are what I like to call “Eye traps.”…buzz words, if you will. On my initial glance, these made me stop and read more closely.

Key words like:

  • SNCO/SNCO of the Year/NCO of the Year
  • MAJCOM/Air Force /NAF/Commands
  • Winner/leadership
  • Distinguished Graduate
  • Awarded/Award/Earned
  • 12OAY/Honor/AF/Manhours/Saved
  • #1/President/Chairman/Honor/Community
  • Team/Committee/$$$/
  • Excellent/Outstanding/Rating/performer

Although sometimes the above words or phrases didn’t really have much to go along with them, I was forced to slow down on them. Not only was I looking for leadership and individual achievements, but also level of impact and the above words usually were included in many bullets describing the impact (obviously this is not an all-inclusive list). I also found the use of the ellipse (…) often made reading the EPR easier and helped identify strong bullets, not to say anyone should over use them.

Again, these are only my views and opinions. We can make records promotion-competitive simply by taking care of our people. Thanks for allowing me to share my experience with you.

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Page Added on: 10 October 2005