Fitness reports are the US Navy’s way of keeping track of and considering how an officer fits in his or her position or rank. Also called “Fitreps,” these reports are one of the most important documents an officer will ever write or receive, and getting the point across to a review board should be your top priority as a superior officer writing one for an underling. Luckily, knowing what the review board will be looking for will take the pressure off.
The Rough Draft
Brainstorm. Think of every statement or action, good and bad, said or performed by the officer about whom you are writing. Write these (good and bad) words and actions down. The order and wording is not important at this point. Get your thoughts down as quickly as possible so as not to forget anything important.
Decide whether you want to focus on the good or the bad in your Fitrep and whether you want to recommend a promotion. For some superior officers this is an easy choice, as one might glaringly outweigh the other.
Choose which points about the person in question you want to include in the report. Did he or she start a new program? Lead a group of sailors through a difficult exercise with ease and efficiency? Or does the person show a shocking lack of initiative and/or leadership ability?
Write your opening report statement. Use a maximum of three short but powerful sentences to leave no doubt in the minds of the review board which way your opinion leans. Use bullets to write five to seven important points about the officer. If your recommendation is for promotion to a higher rank or to a leadership position, make sure all your points support that recommendation. Use the strongest examples (good or bad) of which you know.
Draft your closing statement. This statement should be a summary of what you wish to make known to the review board. Like your opening statement, your closing statement should be only two to three sentences.
The Final Draft
Proofread and edit your opening statement. Include the name and rank of the sailor you’re writing about and make sure there is no doubt whether you feel favorably about him or her. Make these two or three sentences in the form of a justified paragraph.
Shorten, condense and rewrite your main points. Rearrange them with the strongest points first. Remember, the review board won’t be reading your Fitrep intently or searching for the best parts, so don’t save the best for last!
Proofread and rewrite your closing statement. Summarize and drive home your recommendation. This should also be in the form of a paragraph.
Type your fitness report. Justify your opening and closing statements in paragraph form, and list your five to seven points as bullets. Be sure to include the sailor’s name and rank at the top of the report as well. It will do no good to recommend “this young lady” to be promoted if the review board does not know who she is.
Print your report. The report must be signed and then submitted.
For an easier “brainstorming” step, keep a journal of notable points about any sailors on which you know you’ll be writing reports throughout the year.
Never let personal feelings skew your fitness reports. The Navy stands because the sailors are placed in the best position for them. It should be a professional opinion of an aspiring sailor’s career.