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NEWS | Sept. 22, 2010

Reaching for the anchors

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jennifer R. Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Sailors assigned to Naval Weapons Station Charleston here had the opportunity to learn important strategies Sept. 21 that could help set them apart from their peers in next year's chief petty officer selection board.

Looking to reach for their own set of anchors - the unmistakable insignia of a chief petty officer - the briefing was a first for some, and for others, a welcome refresher.

"This is the fourth presentation that I have attended, and I learned something different at each one," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Jason Silvas from McAllen, Texas, attached to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic at NWS Charleston.

The briefing was conducted by Master Chief Mineman Tim Hickman, who is assigned to Naval Munitions Command aboard NWS Charleston. Master Chief Hickman was a member of this past year's selection board and delivered the briefing to provide his insight to Sailors who will be taking the chief's exam in January 2011.

Unlike petty officer exams, chief candidates do not receive a profile sheet showing deficiencies or how they ranked compared to others. Nevertheless, preparing for the board is not a secret. All the information is available on Navy Knowledge Online, including the prior year's board precepts and Naval Administrative Messages.

"Selection board deliberations are the only thing that cannot be discussed; they are secret and all board members are sworn to secrecy. But everything else is out there - the process of making chief is not a secret," said Master Chief Hickman.

As enlisted Sailors first begin testing for promotion, reaching the career milestone of advancing to the rank of chief petty officer and pinning the symbolic anchors onto their collars is a long way off. As they travel through the years and the ranks, they become exposed to many misconceptions about the selection board and the process of making chief.

One misconception is that a chief candidate should send a package to the selection board even if their records are up to date - a myth, according to Hickman. The master chief said the only time a Sailor needs to send a package to the selection board is if it is not already indicated in an evaluation write-up or in their electronic service record.

"If you are unsure of what you need to do, ask for an expert's help. Utilize the people who have gone to the boards prior," he continued. "If you send a package to the board, we have to look at it no matter what, even if it is already in your record. You don't want to create more work for the selection board."

Some other misconceptions discussed were the subjects of Individual Augmentee Deployments and college degrees. While both are great bullets in an evaluation, neither will guarantee the promotion to chief petty officer.

"Does anyone know someone that made chief, and you felt that they did not deserve it?" asked Master Chief Hickman. "Well, I am here to tell you, not one of them has passed the selection board without documented outstanding deckplate performance."

In the end, the number one piece of advice that Master Chief Hickman said he could give to any petty officer out there is to not be afraid to lead.

"It still comes down to leadership ... You have 16 lines within that yearly evaluation to tell me what you have accomplished, and the first thing I want to see is leadership," he said. "Take that tough job out there that nobody else wants and get yourself out there."