Selection For Command

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Selection For Command

Post by Pips » 03 Jun 2019 06:50

I've always found fascinating why a particular man is selected for a command post. Particularly a senior post. What makes one man stand out over all his peers? Is it seniority? Experience? Favoritism? Being in the right place at the right time? Connections?

I would be very interested to hear people's thoughts as to why the following men were selected in their posts.

Chester Nimitz - CINCPAC US Pacific Fleet. I vaguely remember reading that Nimitz (highly capable and organised) was promoted over the heads of more senior men to the post of CINCAC.

John McCain - Commander Task Force 38. Had quite a varied career, but was hardly an overachiever in his early days. Couple that with an extremely abrasive nature and a prodigious drinker, I've always found him a oddball for such a senior post. But perhaps the ruthless side of him was what was needed.

Marc Mitscher - Commander Task Force 58. Also a varied career, but he hardly covered himself in glory whilst in command of Hornet at Midway. And not noted for his attention to detail.

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Re: Selection For Command

Post by reedwh52 » 04 Jun 2019 23:57

All appear to be normal progressions based on experiences, favorable reviews by higher commands, and job performance.

The seniority lists of the pre-WW2 era are misleading.
The highest rank in the USN was Rear Admiral. Any Rear Admiral could be appointed by the President to serve in a three or four -star position.
They were Admirals (or Vice Admirals) by virtue of the position held, not their actual permanent rank (of Rear Admiral). The officers serving as an admiral or vice admiral outranked any officer under their command irrespective of actual seniority on the Rear Admiral list.
Once an officer completed his term, he reverted to Rear Admiral wiprogressionth seniority based on his original DOR as a Rear Admiral

Nimitz selection as CINCPAC was the normal career progression for his position as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. He was actually identified (based on appointment to the Bureau of Navigation) as qualified for higher command in one of the seven higher positions. This is based on the history of the incumbents in the office.
Nimitz had been serving as Chief of the Bureau of Navigation (ie Chief of Personnel) for about 30 months. Officers serving in this position rotated out after two to three years. Since 1919, every incumbent that left the position normally left for three or four -star command position.
There were 9 incumbents in the Bureau of Navigation prior to Nimitz from 1919 on. Of these,
a) 1 retired for disability (after 1 month in office);
b) 1 left office after 13 months (to General Board) (Removed?)
c) 1 mandatory retirement (replaced b)
d) 5 to a 4-star positions (CINCUS, CINCAF, CINC BATFOR)
e) 1 to a 3-star positions Scouting Force
In 1941, there were 4 Admiral positions:
ADM CNO Harold Stark #35
ADM CINCUS H E Kimmel #40
VADM Aircraft Battle Force W Halsey #41

As such, Nimitz was already in line for the next opening.

Mitscher was a senior naval aviator (#33) who had held numerous aviation positions prior to the start of the war. His progression to CTF 58 appears to have been a normal progression.
For Hornet, see viewtopic.php?f=33&t=235048&hilit=mitscher&start=15
Following Hornet, he commanded in succession:
Patrol Wing Two in Hawaii: Jul-Dec 1942
ComFleetAir Fleet Air Noumea: Dec 1942-Apr 1943
ComAirSOLS Guadalcanal: Apr-Aug 1943
Fleet Air, West Coast: Aug 1943-Jan 1944
ComCarDiv Three: Jan-March 1944
TF 58 March 1944-


McCain became a naval aviator in 1936 in order to command US Ranger from 1937-39. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in Feb 1941 as Commander Aircraft Scouting Force Atlantic Fleet.

Commander, Aircraft, SoPAC May-Oct 1942;
Chief of Bureau of Aeronautics: Oct 1942-Aug 1943
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air as VADM, Aug 1943-Aug 1944
Commander Carrier task group (TG 58.1) Aug-Oct 30, 1944;
Commander TF 38 Oct 1944-

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Re: Selection For Command

Post by Pips » 12 Jun 2019 01:41

Thanks for that Reed, great summation.

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