Author Topic: "Project Inclusion" to cut board photos in holistic effort to promote diversity  (Read 1304 times)

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Offline OceanBonfire

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Starting in August, photos will be eliminated from promotion and selection boards as the Army launches “Project Inclusion” to identify practices that inadvertently discriminate, senior leaders announced Thursday.

The project is a holistic effort to listen to Soldiers, civilians and family members and enact initiatives to promote diversity and equity, according to Secretary of the Army Ryan. D. McCarthy.

Before deciding to eliminate photos from officer, enlisted and warrant officer promotion boards, leaders looked at a 2017-2018 study that determined, regardless of race or gender, people looking at photos will have an unconscious bias toward individuals with similar characteristics, G-1 officials said. Further, they said Department of the Army photos provide minimal information compared to the rest of a promotion board file.

During an experiment in the study, researchers ran two identical promotion boards: one that included photos and one without. In the one that did not contain photos, researchers found that the outcomes for women and minorities improved. The results contributed to the decision to remove the photos.

...


https://www.army.mil/article/236796/project_inclusion_to_cut_board_photos_in_holistic_effort_to_promote_diversity
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Offline daftandbarmy

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This smells of a desperate, superficial and short term attempt to address deep seated, organizational culture issues in the face of huge pressure from above - and elsewhere.

Even if you remove their photos, you can pretty much tell alot about people and their backgrounds by what you see in writing. Most people aren't that dumb. As a result, conscious and unconscious, biases can continue to run rampant.

There are some suggestions about how to do a better job in this arena, which takes alot more work than removing a photo from a file of course, here:

Toward a Racially Just Workplace

https://hbr.org/cover-story/2019/11/toward-a-racially-just-workplace

Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity

https://hbr.org/2020/06/moving-beyond-diversity-toward-racial-equity

Restructure Your Organization to Actually Advance Racial Justice

https://hbr.org/2020/06/restructure-your-organization-to-actually-advance-racial-justice
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Offline dapaterson

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"The longest journey starts with a single step."

There are many other steps to follow, but I'm willing to be a bit glass half full on this one.
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Online Haggis

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Even if you remove their photos, you can pretty much tell alot about people and their backgrounds by what you see in writing. Most people aren't that dumb. As a result, conscious and unconscious, biases can continue to run rampant.

Given and family names are in many cases a dead giveaway about ethnicity and gender.  Married women actually have an advantage in some cases as their ethnicity can be concealed behind their married surnames. 

Perhaps a better system would be to use only rank, surname and initials on the files. (e.g. LCdr Knightley, I.P.) Remember the "(W)" designator the CF used alongside ranks to identify female members?  Good times! :not-again:
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Online Blackadder1916

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It's been thirty years since I had "official" US Army photos taken.  Well, not "official" to the extent that a member of the US Army would have stressed over them; mine were mainly used on the ID card that I was issued while I was down at Fort Sam Houston. But I still had the photographer fussing over me being in the proper uniform, having all awards and decorations properly affixed, and that the final product presented the best possible image of me (some things, however, are beyond the technical and artistic skills of even the most gifted photographer).  They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

They even have an Army Regulation specifically about the photos.

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN19797_R640_30_CC_FINAL.pdf
Quote
7. Frequency
a. The following Soldiers will have a photograph taken within 60 days from the date of events listed below.
(1) Selection for promotion to brigadier general or higher.
(2) Promotion to first lieutenant or higher.
(3) Promotion to CW2 or higher.
(4) Initial appointment to CSM.
(5) Promotion to SSG or higher.
(6) Soldiers officially frocked to SGM/CSM by orders issued from HRC.
(7) All other photographs will be taken as needed when announced by selection board zones of consideration.
b. Soldiers will update their photograph at a minimum per the following schedule:
(1) GOs - every three years.
(2) Officers and NCOs - every five years.
(3) RC officers will be photographed during their respective training (that is, BOLC phase III, CCC, and WOBC).
c. A new photograph is required when an award of the Army Commendation Medal or above, a new badge, or a unit
award authorized for permanent wear has been awarded.
d. Soldiers will be required to submit a new photograph when directed by a lieutenant colonel (LTC) or equivalent in
the Soldier's chain of command. This authority is extended to majors serving in LTC command positions. Direction to
4 AR 640–30 • 6 December 2019
submit a new photograph will be based on cogent reason (such as the commander has determined there has been a significant change in the Soldier's appearance). Commanders may not direct their entire unit to submit new photographs.
e. Soldiers assigned to areas where photographic facilities are not available or conditions prevent them from being
photographed are temporarily exempt from the requirements of this paragraph. These Soldiers will be photographed within
90 days after reassignment to an area where photographic facilities are available.
f. Pregnant Soldiers who are due to take an official photograph are exempt from the requirements of this paragraph until
6 months post-partum. However, this does not prevent pregnant Soldiers from taking a photo.
g. Soldiers with approved retirements are exempt from having photographs taken. However, if an application for withdrawal of retirement is approved, the photographs will be updated in accordance with this regulation.
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Online Haggis

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They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

I'd heard this as well from several US Army and USMC friends.  If you didn't look the part and portray the desired image of an Army or Marine leader, you were cooked.

I think this was also mentioned as a practice we should've adopted in the old "Fat Troops on the Street" thread a few years back.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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It's been thirty years since I had "official" US Army photos taken.  Well, not "official" to the extent that a member of the US Army would have stressed over them; mine were mainly used on the ID card that I was issued while I was down at Fort Sam Houston. But I still had the photographer fussing over me being in the proper uniform, having all awards and decorations properly affixed, and that the final product presented the best possible image of me (some things, however, are beyond the technical and artistic skills of even the most gifted photographer).  They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

They even have an Army Regulation specifically about the photos.

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN19797_R640_30_CC_FINAL.pdf

Perfectly superficial  :facepalm:
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Offline Eaglelord17

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Given and family names are in many cases a dead giveaway about ethnicity and gender.  Married women actually have an advantage in some cases as their ethnicity can be concealed behind their married surnames. 

Perhaps a better system would be to use only rank, surname and initials on the files. (e.g. LCdr Knightley, I.P.) Remember the "(W)" designator the CF used alongside ranks to identify female members?  Good times! :not-again:

Take the names off the files, put a number on them instead (i.e. 1-100 etc.). After the candidates are selected the numbers are cross referenced to a sheet which has the names alongside the numbers.

Offline ModlrMike

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Take the names off the files, put a number on them instead (i.e. 1-100 etc.). After the candidates are selected the numbers are cross referenced to a sheet which has the names alongside the numbers.

I have long been of this opinion. The problem is that the higher you go, the harder it gets. For example, in my own case, there's only so many of us NRD XOs.
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Offline CBH99

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I am 98% certain that Edmonton and Calgary police have adopted this, and first introduced it about 5 years ago.

The applicants are given a number, and that number is used to present the applicant to the selection board by their file manager.  Their scores on various tests, opinions, and any other relevant information is presented as "Applicant 123" scored this, "Applicant 456" scored this, etc etc.

Names are not used, as to not influence the selection board's choices.



(I don't know how successful this approach has been.  Genuine, I just don't know - I'm sure agencies still have certain requirements for diversity hiring.  But in general, from what I've heard through the grapevine, it's been a solid approach.)   :2c:
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Names are not used, as to not influence the selection board's choices.

So how does the Mayor's sister's son get hired now?
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Offline MJP

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I have long been of this opinion. The problem is that the higher you go, the harder it gets. For example, in my own case, there's only so many of us NRD XOs.
Sure but is the American approach something we need to adopt to fix any mass problems in our approach? Everyone that talks about our board system seems to think highly of it and its fairly impartial approach via honest broker and scrit scoring that drive the selection/ranking. While anecdotes exist for bad selections, is there any basis that our systems needs change?

I will admit it is intriguing to go with a numbered system to test if there is any bias tho.
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Offline CBH99

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So how does the Mayor's sister's son get hired now?


haha oh I'm sure he still will be!   :dunno:

They find their way in somehow...
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Offline Colin P

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So how does the Mayor's sister's son get hired now?

Some numbers are more equal than others?

Offline Navy_Pete

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Sure but is the American approach something we need to adopt to fix any mass problems in our approach? Everyone that talks about our board system seems to think highly of it and its fairly impartial approach via honest broker and scrit scoring that drive the selection/ranking. While anecdotes exist for bad selections, is there any basis that our systems needs change?

I will admit it is intriguing to go with a numbered system to test if there is any bias tho.

I really don't think that would make that much of a difference on the boards; you are just a number anyway to the impartial member, and their score has to agree with everyone elses. Getting the high profile postings, career courses and the other things that gives you extra points on the promotion boards is a different story, but I don't think there is any good way to both effectively get the right people in the right jobs by managing their careers without the risk of personal bias interfering.

Who doesn't know someone that has gotten screwed by the old boys network, or otherwise maliciously posted/left off a course as a punishment?  Hard to prove, but think a case or two of someone being publicly crucified and having their career derailed for abusing that process would be helpful in reducing that temptation.

The photo thing in the US has always been weird; know of a few people that went to a professional photographer and spent a few thousands on the whole thing to make sure they had the best shot. It's nuts. If someone is a slovenly soup sandwhich, that should get sorted at the unit level, not left to the promotion board.

Offline dapaterson

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In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?
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Offline Dimsum

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In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?

That's a good point.  Is it a military occupation, or a civilian one?  I can see the argument of making it a DND civilian one so there is even less tie (and potential conflict) with the mafias, but I'm sure the regt mafia won't like that.

Does the trade of the CM have any bearing on what they do?  I've heard complaints that "the CM doesn't know anything about my trade" when the smaller trades have 1 CM for 2-3 trades.
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?

Maybe, but I would also be concerned for unintended side effects like creating a whole new “mafia”, beholden to no one and maybe personally uninvested in the military consequences of their decisions on a particular occupation.

From what I have seen on the civvie side, So called HR professionals are not magic, either. They give bad, tepid and timid advice, too.

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...
From what I have seen on the civvie side, So called HR professionals are not magic, either. They give bad, tepid and timid advice, too.

^ this.....x1000 :nod:

Much focus is on HR-related buzzword boilerplate...and real challenges, such as addressing administrative or personnel challenges isn’t dealt with substantively for fear of appearing ‘counter-HR’.  I generally see things only get addressed substantively when it becomes painfully (cringingly)  obvious to most people with a pulse that something needs to be done.

Having seen the civilian(ized) ‘panacea’ not working out in Several areas of practice as theoretically intended (or briefed with warm, fuzzy, convincing PPT), I’m skeptical. Either it should be a MOSID, or just outright contracted out on short-term, rolling performance-based contracts.  The mere thought of a PS-based HR equivalent of Shared Services Canada makes me despair.

:2c:
« Last Edit: June 30, 2020, 10:24:46 by Good2Golf »

Offline Dimsum

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Either it should be a MOSID, or just outright contracted out on short-term, rolling performance-based contracts.  The mere thought of a PS-based HR equivalent of Shared Services Canada makes me despair.

Good point.  Although the CM trade would probably be neck-in-neck with the MP trade as the most hated trade in the CAF   ;)
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Offline garb811

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Good point.  Although the CM trade would probably be neck-in-neck with the MP trade as the most hated trade in the CAF   ;)
Imagine what it's like for the MP career managers.   :rofl:

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Imagine what it's like for the MP career managers.   :rofl:

Double-Mark of Cain! ;D

Offline Dimsum

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Imagine what it's like for the MP career managers.   :rofl:

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Offline Eye In The Sky

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In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?

I would say a huge "yes" to that, personally.  Keep MOSID *advisors* in the picture, but the current way of doing business can certainly be improved upon.
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Offline dapaterson

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Part of the problem with the current model is that the planning / decision cycle starts as the newly posted CMs just arrive; by the time DGMC can deliver the training they should have, they're most of the way through their first posting cycle.
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Part of the problem with the current model is that the planning / decision cycle starts as the newly posted CMs just arrive; by the time DGMC can deliver the training they should have, they're most of the way through their first posting cycle.

So then, the CM MOSID would eliminate that problem, right?
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CMs should be pulled in out of cycle and the losing unit gets a ‘we’re sorry’ credit for taking one for the team. :nod:

Offline dapaterson

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So then, the CM MOSID would eliminate that problem, right?

Assuming the MOSID training is delivered on time and we aren't A/WSE everyone to make up for personnel production shortfalls.

Of course, if well designed, could a Career Administration Support Technician (CAST?) or HRA - CM (HRA sub-occ) occupation or sub-occ be largely employed remotely?  Could we enable that sort of flexibility so, for example, a service couple could have geographic flexibility and not be glued to Carling campus for 25 years?
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Assuming the MOSID training is delivered on time and we aren't A/WSE everyone to make up for personnel production shortfalls.

Of course, if well designed, could a Career Administration Support Technician (CAST?) or HRA - CM (HRA sub-occ) occupation or sub-occ be largely employed remotely?  Could we enable that sort of flexibility so, for example, a service couple could have geographic flexibility and not be glued to Carling campus for 25 years?

Of course the right solution for the future lies in the AI enabled HR future. While we still talk of career managers, a 50 year old HR concept, and other seat of the pants decision making approaches, others are exploring the new killer app:

AI In HR: A Real Killer App

"Most management decisions we make today are done by the seat of our pants. If these systems make us a little smarter we can possibly improve our operations tremendously.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2018/06/18/ai-in-hr-a-real-killer-app/#47b097dc48f1
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Offline Navy_Pete

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Part of the problem with the current model is that the planning / decision cycle starts as the newly posted CMs just arrive; by the time DGMC can deliver the training they should have, they're most of the way through their first posting cycle.

If universities and colleges can figure out how to deliver entire programs, and we can do staff college online, surely we can onboard future CMs with some online training before they show up. Pretty easy to post someone in early and put them on training/do turnover before the planning decision cycle when it's for the people that do the postings. If it's like most courses, it's a week of training packed into two, but usually helpful to figure out the lingo and whatnot before getting fired into the breech, and not waiting until the train has sailed until you do the mandatory training....

(Figured I'd jam as many mixed metaphors in there as feasible to maximize the synergies)
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Offline NavalMoose

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This may be overly simple but how about having a system that requires the member to pass certain requirements for their next rank and when they are met, the member goes on a roster for their trade with the date they passed.  When the CAF requires a MCPL RSM Clerk or whatever, whoever is at the top of the list gets promoted first. This would cut out the huge amount of time spent on PERs...if Cpl Bloggins passed for MCpl before Cpl Smith, then he/she gets promoted first.

Offline dapaterson

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"First past the post" instead of "greater potential and experience" is not the sort of organization that would inspire greatness.
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Offline Navy_Pete

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Because ticking a box maybe isn't the best indicator that they can do the next job, or they would do it any better then the person that ticked the box the day after them? There are pretty good reasons why people reach a terminal rank and never get promoted after hitting eligibility. Plus that would be massively demotivating, and people would focus just on ticking the boxes ASAP.

Our PER system is a bunch of work (for at least once a year), but I think that, generally speaking, people that deserve to get promoted do. Hard for the really small trades, where someone basically has to retire for promotions to trickle down, and lots of stories for people getting screwed when there were promotion freezes on, but outside that, the mechanics of the process are reasonably effective at identifying and promoting capable people. The current PERs are still way easier then the previous system, and I'm sure they may be other alternates to the current format, but think that overall what we do works.

The article is about the US getting rid of the pictures after finding out it resulted in people being discriminated against in the results (even if only from unconscious biases, or judging based on looks instead of actual performance), which isn't something we do. Would be interesting to see what would happen if we replaced the names on the files with some kind of placeholder, but honestly not really sure it would matter with how we run promotion boards. If someone has an axe to grind, it's going to be obvious if the score is way out of range for the unaffiliated board members scoring of the file, and there aren't a lot of discretionary points after you compile the PERs anyway.

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The article is about the US getting rid of the pictures after finding out it resulted in people being discriminated against in the results (even if only from unconscious biases, or judging based on looks instead of actual performance), which isn't something we do. Would be interesting to see what would happen if we replaced the names on the files with some kind of placeholder, but honestly not really sure it would matter with how we run promotion boards. If someone has an axe to grind, it's going to be obvious if the score is way out of range for the unaffiliated board members scoring of the file, and there aren't a lot of discretionary points after you compile the PERs anyway.

The photo in the file of the US promotion system was in many cases the only criteria that the board had time to evaluate.  I know at least two US cross pols, who on have told me that their promotion board to Lt Col consisted of the file being opened, the photo looked at and a few particulars of their career being picked out before their file was plopped onto the "to be promoted" pile.  It took all of 45 seconds.  Similarly to Maj as they have sat those boards.

Offline Navy_Pete

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The photo in the file of the US promotion system was in many cases the only criteria that the board had time to evaluate.  I know at least two US cross pols, who on have told me that their promotion board to Lt Col consisted of the file being opened, the photo looked at and a few particulars of their career being picked out before their file was plopped onto the "to be promoted" pile.  It took all of 45 seconds.  Similarly to Maj as they have sat those boards.

Heard the same; explained a few people I met, and why someone would pay a pro thousands for a promotion headshot. (also why someone would send their new CO an introduction letter in the form of a powerpoint presentation with animated bald eagles and whatnot).

Offline Furniture

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I would say a huge "yes" to that, personally.  Keep MOSID *advisors* in the picture, but the current way of doing business can certainly be improved upon.

The problem with that approach is that the "advisors" are actually become the CM, and the CM just cuts messages, which makes the "old boys club" a lot more powerful.

I have been told by my CMs for the last 8 years that they can't tell me what the plan is because they haven't gotten it from the SOA yet. So my standard CM interview consists of confirming my "tombstone" data, and being asked if I've considered Algonquin College.

That said, the SOAs have done a reasonable job for most people, most of the time... Though a few have benefitted disproportionately, while others have suffered. 

Offline dapaterson

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Professional CMs (in theory) would select based on needs of the service and member aspirations, and not based on SOA perceived "you need this to be the next CAFCWO / CDS".  It would in theory act as a forcing function for occupations and the CAF to understand, set and hold to priorities.

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Offline MJP

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(also why someone would send their new CO an introduction letter in the form of a powerpoint presentation with animated bald eagles and whatnot).

If it is the young Naval officer that sent it, I lost that PowerPoint in a USB washer dryer disaster.  Such a great PowerPoint!!
Hope is not a valid COA

Offline dapaterson

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Nowhere near as good as The RCR meal change email chain that resulted in CFNOC sending a warning to all the CAF to stop forwarding it.
This posting made in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 2(b):
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/1.html

Offline Navy_Pete

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If it is the young Naval officer that sent it, I lost that PowerPoint in a USB washer dryer disaster.  Such a great PowerPoint!!

That's the one; think it's still on duffleblog somewhere. Honestly didn't know those were even a thing, so was a learning experience. Remember from the comments that she's apparently reasonably good, but that presentation was pretty legendary, and all kinds of clownshoes. In theory we have that custom, but not sure if anyone does it really (and if they do, it's on nice paper with a fountain pen).

The only comparable CAF one I've seen involved the rations scheduling request, an outlook calendar and a use of MS paint.

Offline MJP

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Nowhere near as good as The RCR meal change email chain that resulted in CFNOC sending a warning to all the CAF to stop forwarding it.

I recently got that classic back into my life as well.

Hope is not a valid COA