No band at the change of command

That’s Lex’s way of describing a change of command under unfavorable circumstances ,that is, the CO got fired.

Given the spate of firings in the last year or so, CDR Salamander picks up the thee and asks if there’s something in the water. Why ARE so many commanders getting relieved? A quick look at the causes listed at his place shows a couple bits of info.

First, if you can’t control your zipper, you’re going to get caught, and get fired for it. But I’m curious. Is it only when those folks reach the O-5/O-6 command level that they start sleeping with the hired help? Were there NO indications that these folks had personal integrity issues?

Another big cause for relief in the Navy has been shiphandling issues. If you put your ship aground, or ram it into something, you’re gonna get fired. That’s the way its been, and will continue to be. But that raises the question of whether the Navy is properly preparing its officers to command ships at sea. All the time spent on “joint” tours, or time deployed as an Individual Augmentee supporting the Army in Afghanistan or Iraq is time junior officers aren’t spending learning how to be expert shiphandlers.

And then there’s “command climate.”  If you can’t control yourself and your troops, why are you in command? Some folks who have been relieved were “screamers” who ruled by fear instead of leading by example. That’s a relatively easy call to make when it comes to deciding to relieve someone. Others seem to have shown less egregious examples of poor  judgment, and the decision to relieve them is not quite as clear cut.

Any way you slice it, an unusual number of officers in command have been relieved.

And the Navy is not alone. I know of two Army brigade commanders who have been relieved in recent months.  Maybe it just doesn’t make the news, but I haven’t seen examples of battalion commander’s being fired.

One of the commentors at Sal’s place raises the possibility, and I think he’s on to something, that Navy officers don’t command nearly as much as Army officers do.

While all officers in all services are always expected to be leaders, typically the first time a Navy or Air Force officer is entrusted with command is at the O-5 level, right around 20 years of service. But in the Army and Marines, officers first command at the O-3/Captain level, with as little as 4 years of service.

I dunno. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “No band at the change of command”

  1. Navy guys do not normally command below the O5 level, it is sort of our watershed event. There are exactly nine opportunities (9!) to command as a LT(03) on a Patrol Coastal, and more chances as a LCDR (o4) on minesweepers. Unfortunately, commanding early is not necessarily a good predictor of not doing stupid things in O5 command, be it shiphandling or zipper control issues.

  2. I’m just finishing Neptune’s Inferno. one of the interesting things that the author makes a point of is how Nimitz actually ran his destroyer aground in an early command. Somehow he not only survived the court martial but kept getting promoted. Something to consider.

    As far as sleeping with subordinates, I am totally in favor of that being a hard and fast rule. It is always an abuse of power, even if it starts off as “consensual”.

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