Establishing R3 and Fitrep/Eval Expectations Before-You-Go
1. Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Mind
Some IAs (both AC and RC) report in post-deployment surveys that they have experienced challenges reintegrating with their parent command / NOSC after returning from their IA deployment. Performance down-range is often Out-of-Sight, and thus can be Out-of-Mind for the parent command. As a result, IA Sailors have reported that:
- There is no welcome-home or other recognition upon return
- FITREP/EVAL scores suffer as a result of out-of-rate assignment during the deployment/mobilization
- Key collateral duties, responsibilities or opportunities within the parent command/NOSC go to others which reduce the IA's advancement potential
2. What really happens?
First of all, IA Sailors should take comfort that big Navy is not any single reporting senior. IAs are serving their country and are absolutely serving the Navy as they enable the Navy to meet a COCOM requirement. Advancement / Promotion Boards understand this fact and take it into consideration. Keep in mind that evals/fitreps for AC IA sailors mandate separate summary groups to prevent unfair grading of IAs against non IAs.
Second, there is an element of you-get-out-what-you-put-in that applies to this problem. Sailors who don't discuss evaluation criteria with their reporting seniors, who don't communicate their IA career goals in advance, and who disappear into a black hole for the entire deployment (never communicating with their parent command) are all more likely to experience disappointment upon return.
3. Staying on the RADAR
IA Sailors should develop and execute a communication plan with their commands to mitigate the issues that arise from being "Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Mind." The following actions are simple and usually effective:
Request a midterm counseling prior to deployment/mobilization. Communicate clearly and directly with your reporting senior regarding:
- Concerns that IA service is a set-back for career and ways to mitigate the problem
- Establish (in advance) the timeline and summary groups for IA evals/fitreps: detaching (if required), IA service (concurrent if required) and post-IA to ensure your knowledge of the "competition"
- Specific job related roles, responsibilities and how your reporting senior plans to reintegrate you back into the fleet
Not only will such a conversation help you establish clear goals for yourself, but it will also demonstrate tact, proactive planning and teamwork that the Navy values in Sailors.
b. Schedule and follow through on regular updates with your parent command/NOSC. Your updates make your deployment/mobilization less of an "Individual" Augmentation by including your entire command on what you are doing. Be sure to include updates to your command on your return schedule and your wishes for any welcome home events. When you include your shipmates as a part of your mission, they are more likely to treat you as part of the unit upon your return.