How to Argue an “Air Gap” on your FITREP / EVAL

A few weeks ago I worked with a Chief Petty Officer who was unhappy with his latest Evaluation.

He had been at the command for over a year and had been marked lower than he expected. He had maintained his Promotable status from his last EVAL and was below the reporting Seniors average, with an “Air Gap” on his Eval. Furthermore he this Chief did not have a good breakout statement in his writeup.

Before I further discuss the problem let us define “Air Gap” as it relates to an Eval or FITREP. An “Air Gap” is a term where an individual does not receive as high as grades as the reporting senior is authorized to give.

For example, in a summary group of three people, a reporting senior can give one Promotable (P), one Must Promote (MP) and one Early Promote (EP). Therefore the FITREP or Eval would look like this:

P     MP     EP

1     1         1

Now, if the reporting senior finds that one of the individuals is performing up to standards he can “Air Gap” the the MP and the Evaluation would look like this:

P     MP     EP

2     0         1

As you can see there is an “Air Gap” between the P and EP leaving an open space that could be filled.

This Chief was upset at his Eval Air Gap and had a good reason to be upset. He was a hard worker and he believed that he should have been ranked higher by his reporting senior. As such he contacted me to receive some assistance in writing a statement in response to his valuation.

After writing his statement we spent over an hour on the phone discussing strategies to go before his Commanding Officer and argue for a higher grade.

Since no commanding officer likes to give an air gap, I counseled him to focus on his performance and his improvement over the last year.  I recommended that he steer clear of comparing himself to his peers and rather focus on his desire to improve and contribution to the Navy. Finally, I counseled him to be very clear on what is reporting senior deemed as his issues and the things he needs to work on. Then work like heck over the next year to improve in those specific areas.

In the end this Chief had a successful discussion with his CO and was able to make some improvements in his Chief Evaluation.

If you have or if you find yourself in a situation with an air gap I recommend you contact me for individual one-on-one support