Murphy's Law: The Promotion Trap


November 18, 2007: Some U.S. Navy medical installations are "deferring" promotions for Hospital Corpsman (the "medics" you see in movies), when there's a possibility that the promotion will also result in a transfer of the sailor to support operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. Apparently the reason is that well-trained Hospital Corpsmen are getting drained away from hospitals and such, leaving these installations with a lot of novices, who will take time to acquire experience, and then themselves in turn be shipped out, if promoted. Moreover, the higher proportion of inexperienced Hospital Corpsman puts patients at risk, and requires supervisors to work longer hours to avoid problems.

This is another instance of an old custom in the American military, of trying to hang on to your best people. Many unit commanders have to take into consideration whether they will lose someone particularly useful if that trooper is promoted. A promotion often involves a transfer. The military has tried to prevent this sort of thing by centralizing promotion decisions for NCOS. But for lower ranking personnel, the kind of energetic performance that will make you eligible for a promotion, may actually delay your getting it for a while.


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