How to Quantify NCOER Bullets

Adapted from the book, Army Writing Guide, by MSG Parker

Most of us find it difficult to write strong bullet comments for our jobs. Getting those reports out on time or keeping the parts bin stocked just doesn't inspire a lot of glory. But, if we take the time to examine how bullet comments are constructed, it becomes obvious that good bullets are more the result of using a good algorithm than having good material. For that reason, it's possible to make good bullet statements out of what might be considered to be an ordinary performance.

The Algorithm of Strong NCOER Statements

The weight of a bullet comment depends on its result or impact. After studying hundreds of bullet comments across a variety of occupational specialties, it was determined that, in general, the impact of a bullet comment is expressed in 9 ways:

Achieved a Quantity. This type of result or impact statement is used when the quantity itself is the significant achievement: number of missions completed, number of insurgents captured, number of miles driven, number of flights supported, etc.

Achieved an Objective. This type of impact description is used when the named objective is universally recognized as being significant and no further explanation is needed: completed successful rotation, finished an inspection, repaired, restored capability, etc.

Reduced an Undesirable Condition. This type of impact statement describes initiative that results in a better condition: a reduction in the number of equipment failures, in the number of incidents of sniper activity, number of late reports or awards, length of time required, etc.

Improved a Condition. This type of result is another way of describing improved conditions or processes: increased readiness, streamlined admission procedures, combined efforts, increased efficiency, etc.

Prevented Undesirable Condition. This type is used to describe proactive efficiency: surveillance prevented IED use, analysis of route prevented threat to personnel, PMCS prevented equipment failure, etc.

Maintained Ops Tempo. This impact type is used to document significant and critical achievement: maintained operational rate of 95%, ensured readiness, maintained 100% accuracy, zero errors, etc.

Comparison to Peers. This method is usually used in Recognition bullet comments and is an effective way of making the ratee standout: qualified 2 months ahead of peers, chosen over others of equal rank, etc.

Timeliness. Achievements related to time use this type of impact statement: completed ahead of schedule, finished before required, no late reports, guaranteed zero delays, etc.

Name Dropping. This type is used when the name of the event specified is universally recognized as being highly significant and so important that it becomes the impact and no further explanation is needed: supported ops in Sunni Triangle, key to the success of OEF III, completed over 100 missions ISO OPERATION ANVIL TREE, etc.

Apply each of the 9 types of impact listed above, in turn, to each of your bullet comments to determine which one works best. The goal is not merely what fits but what works best -which type of result is most significant. For example, consider the following comment:

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy"

In order to develop and determine which kind of impact statement is most appropriate for this comment, a writer would have to have direct knowledge of the job or achievement but some suggestions are listed below:

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, exceeded norm for production by 50%" (Achieved a Quantity)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, newly fielded equipment accepted, unit capability expanded" (Achieved an Objective)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, reduced unnecessary retransmissions by 50%" (Reduced an Undesirable Condition)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, improved accuracy of ops planning and personnel forecasts" (Improved a Condition)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, saved $10K in contractor TDY costs by providing timely status" (Prevented Undesirable Condition )

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy; maintained a 100% operational rate despite 50% manning deployed" (Maintained Ops Tempo)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy; best performer in section!" (Comparison to Peers)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy; best on-time delivery rate in 5 years" (Timeliness)

"completed over 120 ops reports with 100% accuracy, support key to success of OPERATION ANVIL TREE" (Name Dropping)

The best bullet comment depends on context. If you already have a bullet comment that describes saving the government money, don't use that category of impact statement again. Instead, use another type of impact statement. For example, use one in which the ratee is compared favorably to his peers.

In addition, another way to get a significant impact or result is to study your unit's mission statement or goals and its achievements. For example, if your unit's mission is to sustain another unit, state that:

o sustained 70th Troop Command operations across 70 square miles of the most contested land area in Afghanistan

And, to carry this further, you can use the supported unit's mission statement:

o delivered hazardous material containers; confined outbreak; prevented spread to population