CO’s need to mentor juniors on how to write a fitness report, the importance of performing meaningful work, and taking on the hard jobs. You, the individual, should be able to provide the skeleton on which to add the meat for your FITREP. Often it becomes difficult to hang meat on a skeleton – just coming to drill and being a good person does not help your superiors to write a meaningful fitness report. Remember it is your career and your record – you need to work hard to make the most of it. There are dozens of anecdotal stories about how WE have inadvertently affected the careers of good officers through poor fitness report writing. These mistakes are often the mistakes of omission (“Gee, I didn’t know that!) or, more seriously, commanding officers trying to “game” the system or simply avoiding a tough decision. Writing fitness reports is one of the most important responsibilities of those in command. The Navy expects us to know the rules and to be uncompromising in doing the right thing. We all make mistakes. Regrettably, that is one of the best ways we learn. As our medical brethren would say—-“Scar tissue is the strongest tissue.” Here is some scar tissue assembled by our Board of Directors:
1. Marking a superior performing officer who is junior lower than a weaker performing officer who is senior in order to help the senior officer “get promoted”.
2. Boilerplating. A CO who boilerplates 25% of the report for all personnel tells the selection board he/she doesn’t know their personnel.
3. Lingering on personal or civilian-job related information. Block 41 gives you 18 lines to mention significant military accomplishments. When you waste space to discuss scouting, coaching, community service, the promotion at work, you neglect the military report of fitness which IS the meat of any fitness report.
4. Cheating. You cheat when you: a) Score your MP’s higher than your EP’s to show MP officers as higher than the reporting senior’s average. b) Use block 41 comments to state what you didn’t state in the ranking. Example: “this is my number one department head and the number one officer in my command”–but–you make this officer a Promotable.
5. Waiting until the last minute to write them. Plan three months in advance. Hold murder boards with your ACOS/ Department heads. When you hurry, you make mistakes. Your personnel are the losers.
6. Lack of bullets; a long wordy FITREP will not be as helpful, especially in front of aboard.
7. Overly general content. Use specific numbers accomplished, e.g. man-hours provided in operational support for an exercise or something else notable are a must. Saying “we received positive reviews from the gaining command” is a loser.
8. FITREPs that are too short. We have seen FITREP inputs that were six lines. This may be OK for a four month, not quite NOB report, but if that’s all you have for a year, especially as an O-4 or above, you need to revisit it.
9. Award recommendations that have not yet been presented or approved. NO, NOT, NEVER put them in a FITREP.
10. Empty statements; LT. Smith is a great officer, liked by all.
This article is taken from public domain Navy sources. If you are the author and would like recognition please contact me.