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Rob Thornton
05-12-2007, 02:24 PM
Looks like main stream news finally caught up with the Army offering CPTs a 20 K bonus to stay. However, they left off some qualifiers - my understanding its targeted for CPTs between 3-8 years of service.

I think this incentive is probably inadequate - here is why:

First its a symptom treatment and not an illness treatment. The officer (and professional NCO Corps) can add and divide. Rather then a targeted incentive which seems like its objective is to turn CPTs into MAJs and put them into a position where its more attractive to stay in towards retirement then to enter into a new job from mid career - how about a strategy (with the types of incentives) that creates an atmosphere where professionals (and their families) inside the Army are content and through word of mouth and good press, attract not only quantity, but the type of quality we say we need?

I've talked to these CPTs (and other officers) weighing indefinite, repeated 15 month tours on their families. Most believe in what we are fighting for and believe in the Army - but they can add and divide - they have also been taught COA analysis in their CCC (CPTs Career Course). They also receive emails from head-hunters, and maintain a vast email network with their buddies from school and their years as LTs. They know who has gotten out, why and how much money they are making on the outside. The married ones have spouses (who also know how to add and divide) who also maintain email communications with the spouses of the officers who have separated - all the cards are on the table.

Here is the question:

So 20K divided over say 4 years equals to about 5K a year. Is the targeted officer going to make more then an additional 5K a year for leaving the Army (with what may equate to 2 x 15 month tours in that 4 years) for a civilian job with no 15 month tours?

Here are a few more questions - on the ground we saw there was a growing CPT problem about 2 years ago. We saw the survey that were trying to gauge it, and new from past surveys that the data would be filtered and dressed then go through a echeloned decision making and approval process that would water down the remedy and create delays. So, is our problem still at the CPT level only, or has it migrated to become a MAJ and LTC problem? With the acceleration of the expansion of the Army competing with an attrition of leadership - what options does that leave the Army to fill critical MTO&E positions? Where will the Army get these officers (and NCOs - I say that because the burdens become proportional to the lack of needed leaders)

Will they promote early and try to fill vacuums? What problems will become compounded as a result? NCOES, OES, the graduate school incentives also discussed?

How about the reserve and inactive officers and NCOs? How will they (and the organizations they currently belong to) be effected?

What about TRADOC and other non-MTO&E billets? Anybody who says TRADOC, ROTC, Recruiting, and functional areas are not critical fails to understand the success of our professional military - you can't just back fill these position with civilians - one because their is a relevancy issue, second because you just create more jobs that require professional military experience and will pay more for it since the contract will allow it - you've just created employment opportunity.

This goes back to several other threads. It ties in with the thread on Public Will and Sacrifice, on establishing a Corps of nation builder peace keepers and with some of the responses to the thread on Army Officer accuses GOs of Incompetence.

Generating and retaining the professionals needed for this Long War require updating the HR strategy required to do so - when only a small percentage of the population shoulders the sustained burden - the need to compensate them and their families grows. I read some of the thoughts from the other threads - some called for congressional involvement and some against. Congress recently approved a pay raise for the military - it really doesn’t do much - its more of a Cost of Living raise - for the average citizen. It does not address the increased hardships (read costs) placed on the families of deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, or the incredible pace of short notice travel placed on those men/women and their families when between deployments as they try and spend time with families, PCS, TDY enroute, etc. At 3.5% it equals out to 1/2 of one more trip to the grocery a month - or maybe an extra fill up of the tank at prices near the $3 mark.

What we need is for Congress to offer the military the $$$ and more importantly the tools to create an atmosphere of quality of life. The first part of these tools would be a real pay raise that recognizes the sacrifice of those in uniform; some of this could be applied toward targeted performance - max out your OER and NCOER and get a bonus; some for better housing (their is much more to this then just the quality of the dwelling - best people to ask about this are the spouses - (but only ask if you are serious); some of this on a return to full medical and dental coverage for families (spouses and kids hat the word dependants now- but it does accurately reflect given the hardships they endure how dependant they are on the soldier/marine/airman/sailor), educational bonuses/incentives as planned - or better expanded towards families, real child care that allows spouses to decompress occasionally while their military spouse is deployed.

All of these things cost $$$$. People cost money. Good people cost more money and the best people cost the most money - if you want to retain them past the point where they feel they have met their obligation and somebody else can shoulder the burden.

There will be a few of the best who stay for various reasons, but they are a minority. You can only appeal to patriotism and loyalty for so long without offering more.

jcustis
05-12-2007, 02:34 PM
So 20K divided over say 4 years equals to about 5K a year. Is the targeted officer going to make more then an additional 5K a year for leaving the Army (with what may equate to 2 x 15 month tours in that 4 years) for a civilian job with no 15 month tours?

In the majority of cases, the answer is likely "no". We get those spreadsheets that break down your total value, given base pay, housing, medical, dental, insurance, and commissary, and it's pretty much on the money. I found that out 8 years ago when I dabbled with a 8 month break in service. I came back in mostly because I soldier for the sake of soldiering...that and the fact that my wife said if we were going to be miserable b/c we lived in a town with no friends, plus were miserable b/c I was miserable with 10-12 hour work days, we might as well go back to where everyone else was miserable too. It was like a moment from the opening song to the show "Cheers". I haven't looked back.

Even on the worst days, I think the military still cares more for you than any corporation where the $$$ are the bottom line.

Rob Thornton
05-12-2007, 03:09 PM
In the majority of cases, the answer is likely "no". We get those spreadsheets that break down your total value, given base pay, housing, medical, dental, insurance, and commissary, and it's pretty much on the money.

Got to love the annual "your net worth" spreadsheet - and it is accurate. But, does it reflect the worth of the soldier/sailor/marine/airman given the job they are doing and will be doing over the next decade or more?

For you and me we've got years in - I'm at about 17 for retirement (6 were enlisted in the Marines prior to college) and 21 for pay. I've got options galore. Most do not have the flexibility I do - At worst I probably have 1 possibly 2 more long deployments somewhere. Anything past 20 is pretty much on my terms. However, I have amassed a great deal of experience in those years. I'm in good health; and for a fellow with a funny accent I'm reasonably competent :D .

I know a great many young CPTs who are married or considering marriage and are facing up to 15 years to retirement - that could be allot of 15 month deployments - and their families understand this.

Even if the money doesn't add up, the trade off may be worth it. The Army is not only getting tagged for unit rotations of 15 months - the individual augmentation - increasing numbers all the time - are also 15 months. With global commitments to fight the War on Terror - this probably will not abate.

I've seen allot of very good young officer choose to leave. I'm seeing allot of very able 20 year guys at the MAJ and LTC level separate - good jobs vs. continued deployments. I'm hearing about LTCs turning down command - something we've all been bred to accept as the prize for enduring staff work.

I believe that without a significant change in the way we compensate reward the guys taking on these deployments - we will continue to exacerbate this problem and create additional problems in the process.

The Army and Marines have much in common in terms of the commitments - but they are also different animals - specifically with different HR challenges. The Air Force and Navy have different requirements and HR Challenges as a result. However, you cannot differentiate too much in terms of rewards without possibly crippling/impacting the other.

Its a tough nut to crack - but we seem to always identify problems too late and offer up responses which don't mitigate the self inflicted latency.

jcustis
05-12-2007, 06:05 PM
During the garrison years, I noticed an interesting thing from where I sat. All we had were UDPd to Okinawa, Med and WestPac floats, and the occasional disturbance that required a condition 1 presence. Many Marines simply got bored and decided to move on.

Shift to the OIF years, where we have no downsizing concerns, and the reasons are markedly different. After doing a run at OIF I, the majority of Marines I knew who made the choice simply said that they had done everything they had come into the Corps for. See a foreign land, prove themself in a combat environment, yada, yada. Some of these motivations were what drove a lot of IRR volunteers to come back on as combat replacements for the second go-around of OIF-II. They wanted to get in the mix.

I've known three good officers who decided to leave after their second tours. All were solid guys, but in almost every case, they simply had something else that they wanted to do on the outside, so they gave it a go. Although a couple would probably never admit, disillusionment with the administration's policies was a factor. They voted with their feet.

I don't think money will capture the 1/3 that "get it", but have competing demands that lure them out. For them it's not the money. The 1/3 who "have no clue" would be all over monetary incentives. To make this thing work, we'd have to connect incentives to quantifiable performance.

"Oh, so you say you're a bag of donuts but want the $20,000 bonus to stay in? Let's take a gander at your performance files. Hmmm, it says you graduated at the bottom of your Basic School class, and the bottom of your Logistics Officer course. No thanks...next please."

It could be argued that this would be a difficult task to accomplish, given the poor state of our awards systems and such, but the GS side has been using performance awards for years. All it takes is conscientious administrators who follow the letter of the program, and it can be effective. Applying it to the military context would be tough, but I wonder if it has even been explored.

Amongst the 1/3 that do get it, I think there is a sense that standards continue to decrease, the "lost ones" continue to find promotions and juicy assignments, and personnel rotation policies are out of whack. Heck, it was just recently that I heard that Master Gunnery Sergeants (E-9s) were going to hold a conference, comparable to the Sgts Major conferences that are held routinely. As I think about it, that sort of stuff should have been happening all along. It was refreshing to hear from a MGySgt (recently joined to the battalion when we were deployed) tell me that he had stiff-armed the Sgt Maj and let him know that he would be talking to the career monitor for the MOS 0369 staff sergeants and above, as well as helping those Marines chart their course.

Some times it is a lack of focus. I know many Marines who think the leadership should focus on the most serious of matters that face us, and prioritize acquisition of a new PT uniform to the bottom of the list of things to do. Oh, and if anyone thinks that they can find the triggers for a servicemember's separation aims, it won't come from a ream of anonymous surveys, met thinks.

Rob Thornton
05-12-2007, 06:59 PM
From JC:

"Oh, so you say you're a bag of donuts but want the $20,000 bonus to stay in? Let's take a gander at your performance files. Hmmm, it says you graduated at the bottom of your Basic School class, and the bottom of your Logistics Officer course. No thanks...next please."

JC - Concur- we should not reward sub-standard performance - but under a blanket 3-8 yr target - I think we'll get some of that - unless - we say something to the effect of "OK - thanks, but your potential is limited". Unfortunately, I think that is a harder sell to the Army then to the Marines. Having been both and wondered about the differences over the years, my thoughts are that the Marines can afford to be more selective given their size (they punch well above their weight given everything from the ability to run a MAGTF, MEUSOC in a MEF - and I think their fat to muscle mass ratio reflects that). The Army is different, its a large bureaucracy with the strengths and weaknesses given the size of a heavy weight. Within the organization are some very agile organizations, but both within those organizations and in the support areas around them, there are allot of empty billets.

Increasingly we have the competing requirements of Mass and technical. The former is the ability to field sufficient formation to meet all the mission requirements it has, the latter reflects the reality of both technical fields and the emotional maturity to deal with people on and around the battlefield. Any organization that requires such a large number of qualified people is going to have problems, particularly when it competes on a government budget.

I'd say look at the recruiting strategies as an example of marketing. Who do they target and what is their message. The Marines have had pretty much the same message since I joined in 1984, although they have gotten better at presenting it and refining it. It basically says, "Come and be challenged by the best and prove your worth". Semper Fidelis, and "The few, the Proud, the Marines" resonate and have not lost their edge with their target. The Army has had to change its message over the years, and its incentives for enlistment given among other things the need to meet its recruiting goals. Because the Army is so big and diverse, many can do the job they'd like to do, get the skills they'd like to aquire and still probably get some kind of bonus. They can also change jobs fairly easy, try out for OCS or Green to Gold, attempt to join the Army SOF community etc. their are always holes to fill and the some part of the Army is always willing to do allow for that - but taking the filler from one hole and filling another still leaves a hole.

That is what I meant when I said the Army has some different HR challenges. Consider the SOF community. They have been told to grow without compromise of standards, a tall order. It means cutting attrition and growing recruitment - those bodies have to come from somewhere. How do you entice some of them - how do you retain some of the others - Many a PMC I met was prior SOF - the money was just that good. Some were 20 year veterans - they felt they'd done their time, and it was time for them to make a little money doing what they enjoyed and were qualified for. Who could begrudge them or anybody who served even for 1 tour in that small percentage of the less then 1% who actually serve at all?

From JC:

Some times it is a lack of focus. I know many Marines who think the leadership should focus on the most serious of matters that face us, and prioritize acquisition of a new PT uniform to the bottom of the list of things to do.

I think you are on the money here. There are allot of glass balls in the air (at least somebody's concluded their ball is glass) in terms of how funds should be spent. There is also the problem of flexibility in allocation - what monies go where and how they are used to fix problems.

From JC:

Oh, and if anyone thinks that they can find the triggers for a service member's separation aims, it won't come from a ream of anonymous surveys, met thinks

You know although I hate the surveys, I always fill them out - and usually write comments. In my mind I imagine the poor contractor who says " well, that is a valid point, but it fits no where on our quantitative roll up, so out the window it goes." The survey seems to be the instrument of justification to go before somebody and tell them what we already knew a year earlier. Its a process that is ponderous and reflects a large bureaucratic organization where the distance between the brain and the fingertips makes finding out what you are touching difficult.

What we may need to do is consider the problems that will be created (ex. shortage of CPTs will create a shortage of MAJs/LTCs) and regain the initiative by holistic solution - ID the symptoms - Diagnose the Illness/problem - prescribe a cure fast enough to work or at least treatments that put the disease in remission until a cure comes along.

jcustis
05-13-2007, 12:02 AM
Increasingly we have the competing requirements of Mass and technical. The former is the ability to field sufficient formation to meet all the mission requirements it has, the latter reflects the reality of both technical fields and the emotional maturity to deal with people on and around the battlefield. Any organization that requires such a large number of qualified people is going to have problems, particularly when it competes on a government budget.

Can we say that the investment in technology and equipment hurt our ability to invest in people?

phil b
05-13-2007, 12:04 AM
Stories about re-enlistment/retention usually assume that anyone in the military intends or is open to a career in the military and that current policies or conditions drive people out of the services. But the reality is that most people who serve never intend to make the military a career. This is true not only in our time when facing perhaps multiple 15 month tours in combat, but also in peacetime. In peacetime your job is a lot of garrison bull#### and training for combat that you'll never see. After a while its just boring and once you have accomplished your individual goals it's time to move on. Whether people stay in or get out has become a political issue, but what is ignored are the variety of individual motivations. If someone joined the military for a defined period of time and then intended to get out then it doesn't make sense to portray them as a potential career officer or NCO who was lost due to current curcumstances. There is a kind of Catch-22 in all of this: in wartime people don't want to stay in because there are too many deployments, but in peacetime people don't want to stay in because there are no real world deployments and it's just a lot of bs.

Rob Thornton
05-13-2007, 01:31 AM
JC,


Can we say that the investment in technology and equipment hurt our ability to invest in people?

I don't know. I've been on the end where I've seen first hand how technical advances make life easier (Rifle CO CDR in a SBCT) - I've been on the end where I've witnessed how industry tries to manipulate things (working FCS) so that their solution become our requirements vs. our requirements driving their solutions. I've also seen the need for good people in all those aspects and how the thin green line makes all the difference.

We need investment in good tech, but not at the expense of good people. I'm not sure its all or nothing - but it does mean knowing when what you need is better then paying for what you want. This has to be based with a reasonable prognosis of how short, mid and long range problems will effect each other. Example - building a requirement for something like a BCT to deploy in 72 hours assumes those air frames will be available to support it, if you have worked with some logisticians they'll give you the nuts and bolts - but its ugly - there is a 2002 or so RAND study that spoke to strategic deployment and the costs. So building something that does everything equally - means that it probably does nothing very well.

There are however lots of good COTS type investments - look at the different MRAP vehicles purchased by EOD - but what happened - when Industry smelled opportunity it immediately said we'll build you a better one - what happened when GM initially tried to build cars like the Japanese - they came off as bad American cars and bad Japanese imitations - took us about 30 years to get good at that one.

I had the opportunity to work on a DARPA program that Industry shunned - they were scared of DARPA - since DARPA gets its own money they are much more candid about shortcomings and faults. That was the bright spot about that job. In the end Industry could not come close, and wound up adopting the DARPA project as its own (DARPA does not have a horse in the race per se - they bring it a long to a certain point and turn it over to a PM)

As MG (ret) Scales has said (para-phrased) - "good technology and equipping our force with the best is essential and we owe it to them." However, we must be judicious and not let our alligator appetite for "perfect but indefinite over runs" out run our hummingbird resources for "good enough" an right now.

Take Stryker and the SBCT (or EOD and the Buffalo, Cougars or RGs) and I think you have a good model where slightly modified platforms have been married with good C4ISR and other available tech - along with well trained (and resourced) people with good leadership and you have a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.

We have to balance our tech investments with our people investments - but with the understanding that good tech without good people is a dead end (think monkeys and football)

Phil b


There is a kind of Catch-22 in all of this: in wartime people don't want to stay in because there are too many deployments, but in peacetime people don't want to stay in because there are no real world deployments and it's just a lot of bs.

I agree to a certain point, but it does not change the problem that we are losing people at the same time we are trying to expand, and that the COIN doctrine we are supporting says that talent is everything. Our problem is how do we retain more, recruit more of the "talent" portion in a period where more then just the numbers who would have moved on are saying "their cup runneth over"? Its not just about what that individual planned to do with their life anymore - they have additional obligations in their families that are increasingly weighing in their decisions. There are already allot of guys on their 3rd and 4th year plus deployment.

Yes, money is not everything (there are allot of other benefits that need to return), but it sure helps if it means taking some stress off of the families so when Joe is away, or just back, the family is comfortable and Momma is not trying to just hand the kids off because she has had enough (she cannot begin to imagine what Joe has been through - in fact she has had her brand of hard times). We are not solely talking about Joe buying a Lexus, we are talking about an increased standard of living that compensates the servicemen and their family for their sacrifice to protecting the country.

jcustis
05-13-2007, 02:01 AM
RT,

What do you think if a select run of folks (senior capts thru new to mid-majors) were offered a boost in retirement pay at 20 yrs, say up to 75%, for signing on to that 20?

jonSlack
05-13-2007, 05:46 AM
Army Times - Officer incentives should roll out Monday (http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/05/army_officer_incentives_070509w/)


A new menu of officer incentives that includes a $20,000 retention bonus for captains should be ready for fielding about May 15, according to Army personnel officials.

The incentives menu will be targeted at Regular Army captains in selected branches who have O-3 dates of rank of Aug. 1, 2005, through Jan. 1, 2007.

Qualified officers will be able to select one of five incentive options. Those are:

$20,000 critical skills retention bonus.

Graduate school.

Post of choice.

Branch of choice.

Military training such as Ranger School or language training.

I am curious what they mean by qualified. I get the feeling it will be the standard no DUIs, no domestic abuse, no relief for causes, and no GOMERs check. I also wonder if there will be a requirement for a certain level of command to sign off on each bonus, COL or above maybe. Also, will the retention rate of company grade officers start to be tracked like the retention rate of junior enlisted and NCOs?

Related question: Why isn't there a Retention Specialist or Career Counselor for officers, especially junior officers, like there is for enlisted Soldiers?

120mm
05-13-2007, 05:51 AM
The first thing I'd like to see redressed is the TSP Match inequity. If you are a lard-ass civilian public servant drone, you get a TSP Match. If you are a high-speed CPT potentially sacrificing everything for his/her country, you are obviously inferior in value to the .gov types and are not good enough to deserve a TSP match.

I think you might find a direct correlation with good Officers/NCOs who plan for their futures through investment. It may not be a "tipping point" issue for retention, but it would definitely set the conditions for perceived equity.

Ski
05-13-2007, 11:38 AM
Rob

You left out an important point. The Army is going to expand by 53,000 over the next five years.

Only increases the strain on mid level NCO's and officers.

And as you said, the training base is going to grow a lot in order to meet the new operational force requirements.

The CPT crises can be directly traced back to the drawdown to 10 divisions in 94. There were not enough LT's selected from AC duty from ROTC from 93-98, and that has rippled through the force to this day.

Rob Thornton
05-13-2007, 02:29 PM
JC,


What do you think if a select run of folks (senior capts thru new to mid-majors) were offered a boost in retirement pay at 20 yrs, say up to 75%, for signing on to that 20?

I think that is a pretty good incentive, but as you'd mentioned earlier - I think it needs to be performance oriented, but not targeted at say a particular branch or FA. Right now most of those coming up on 20 are in the High 3 category (50% of the average of the last three years). Going to 30 allows you to work up to 75%.

Now a guy who gets 50% of his base pay at 20, and picks up a job say making at least what his base pay was now has a significant increase in his income. If he picks up some disability - (this is on the increase by the way from hearing to other ails that come from working in a combat zone repeatedly over say a 6 year period - lets say since 9/11, and all the other things the military gets asked to do - fighting wild fires, disaster relief where HAZMAT is an issue, etc.) - then there is definitely competition to staying in past 20. Not to mention, the prospect of continuing deployments etc with decreasing resources - the politics of funding - where is the incentive.

Now, say a yearly 5% increase that takes you to 30 so that at 30 you are looking at 100% - there is an incentive. Make it performance based with demonstratable standards that reward innovation, agility, etc. and are unbiased in the categories of branch, or position held - where there are no maximum quotas, but where everyone can aspire to, and you have a formula that people can work hard towards. I'd also think something at the end like educational benefits for introduction back into the civilian world would not only benefit the serviceman, but the nation - putting these valued members back into the community in positions of responsibility is good for our Republic.

Conversely, as professionals, officers and NCOs need to be prepared to meet the needs of the Army and the war. This may mean working in shortage areas and being professionally challenged. To do this effectively we need to ensure we invest in our officers and NCOs the type of education that provides the most flexibility to meet the challenges ahead

This brings me to something else, it should not just be the Federal government who recognizes this, but incentives at the state and local level beyond what is offered. Some states have great programs - I believe Indiana offers some of the best in terms of tuition, but what if say we explored the areas of taxes (Local, State, Federal), licenses (of all types), fees, etc.? What if more local businesses offered up something that provided some recognition - after all, we're talking about less then 1%. Any former CDR knows how local businesses around military businesses often take advantage of the 18 year old private soldier (even with new regulations its still happening) - who has a say in this - local, city and state leaders - its not all just on US congress as the federal legislative branch to improve.

Anybody who has flown into both Dallas and Atlanta on R&R can tell a huge difference between the two. In Dallas Soldiers, Marines, Airmen & Sailors are received as heroes. In Atlanta, its business as usual.

I mention all of this because the Legislative branch tends to be a reflection of the voting public so much as it supports agendas and re-election - this is not a new phenomena, but has been around since Democracy began. It would be hard to expect political support on increasing the compensation and benefits without public support that recognizes the past, current and future sacrifices of those who wear the uniform and their families.

The public may see the death tolls and statistics from the 24 hour news channel, but they really don't understand the personal sacrifices made by service members and their families - its much easier to watch American idol then to try and identify with say a military spouse who is at home worried about her husband and trying to raise 2-4 children in a post far away from her family. She could go home yes, but that causes further disruption in the children's lives, and heightens their sense of danger for their father. On the flip side, the father/mother is trying to do their job in the most difficult of conditions while worrying the 15 months if his/her family is OK. Now when the family gets back is off to a delayed school or gamut of schools while trying to spend as much time making things appear normal before deploying yet again with another unit - this is the reality of today's military family, and will be for the foreseeable future.

This is not a war that ends with the fall of Nazi Germany or even the destruction of Osama Bin Laden, this war will continue as long as their are people and groups who try and impress their will upon the increasingly globalized world through acts of terror and intimidation. Since what happens in almost any part of the world is now inextricably linked to the other parts of the world (and our freedom) it matters. Since everyone knows that the United States of America is generally the only state with the wherewithal to do something about it (and that the world expects us to - but reserves the right to condemn us for it), those same evil people and groups will work hardest to intimidate and convince us that we are wrong and will suffer for it.

This means they will attack us at their first opportunity. The world is smaller, and it works much different the the Average American (qualified by non-celebrity status and having never left their own borders for those of a third world state) understand. The average American does not understand except through the portal of the media (generally biased toward one agenda or another - but always in the business of selling soemthing). Their experiences are limited to their everyday concerns.

We are arguably the most generous people on this earth (look up the amounts expended in the causes of charity, the groups who solicitate here, and the amount spent airing those causes), but unless explained to, will not support the type of dialogue writers on this site participate in.

Getting back on target - yes, considering a change in the perception of continuing past the 20 year mark is needed - but it has to take into account what is offered in the context of what is expected. It has to be a substantial change to effect the perception of those making the choices. If not, most will approach anything less with skepticism, some with mild contempt.

Rob Thornton
05-13-2007, 02:35 PM
Ski,


You left out an important point. The Army is going to expand by 53,000 over the next five years.

Only increases the strain on mid level NCO's and officers.

And as you said, the training base is going to grow a lot in order to meet the new operational force requirements.

Exactly- I feel like we are tyring to bail out the Titanic with sippi cups.

Sargent
05-13-2007, 02:40 PM
Yes, money is not everything (there are allot of other benefits that need to return), but it sure helps if it means taking some stress off of the families so when Joe is away, or just back, the family is comfortable and Momma is not trying to just hand the kids off because she has had enough (she cannot begin to imagine what Joe has been through - in fact she has had her brand of hard times). We are not solely talking about Joe buying a Lexus, we are talking about an increased standard of living that compensates the servicemen and their family for their sacrifice to protecting the country.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think there's an amount of money feasible that would really factor into our decision. Not that I would say no if it were offered, but it's not likely the USMC will be offering bonuses any time soon!

Furthermore, I don't know how you solve the family stress problem -- it really needs to be addressed by each family individually, according to what they need. Also, for many deployments families leave duty stations and live elsewhere, so programs based at such locations are likely to miss a lot of people. Granted, we are living by a naval station (Newport), but on the other side of the country from where my husband is stationed (Pendleton). During the two year unaccompanied tour (02-04) -- the second year courtesy of Stop Loss/Stop Move -- we were not close to a base of any sort. I will say this -- I had a very difficult time dealing with that second year -- here's something that should change -- don't make families pay for bureaucratic inefficiency or to make things easier on the administration of the institution. I wasn't altogether keen on the enormity of a sacrifice that essentially did nothing more than help "Free a Marine to Fight" -- the motto of the guys stuck in Okinawa at the start of OIF.

On the other hand, I'm mostly an idiot, and vote against my personal interest to support continued service. I'm like a self-clubbing baby seal.

Rob Thornton
05-13-2007, 02:41 PM
120mm


The first thing I'd like to see redressed is the TSP Match inequity. If you are a lard-ass civilian public servant drone, you get a TSP Match. If you are a high-speed CPT potentially sacrificing everything for his/her country, you are obviously inferior in value to the .gov types and are not good enough to deserve a TSP match.

Your point brings up several other threads - while this one just talks about the military (and as Ski pointed out the growth of the Army and Marines), we've also acknoledged the need to grow Federal LE, State Dept FSOs willing to serve abroad to support an strategy where Inter-Agency coopoeration is key, and there is serious talk of developing other domestic agencies and even a corps of nation builders.

Decision makers and legislators have to understand that the Good Idea Fairy doesn't shop at Wal Mart. They are all great ideas, but they are not free, and neither is freedom.

I do think though that benefits like the TSP match need to be explored, maybe enhanced for superior performance - there is a trade in everything.

Ski
05-13-2007, 04:05 PM
Some other tools that could be used:

1. Make military pay tax free - and then put a hold on military salary increases for a decade. That's quite a bit of cash for all involved and should cover a decade of incremental pay increase of 2 to 4%.

2. Make combat pay worth something. Marty Stanton's book on Somalia - "Somalia on $5 a Day" highlights the inadequacies of combat pay.

3. Military wives get first shot at local GS jobs at bases instead of locals or retirees. Many military wives are the reasons for soldiers leaving the force. If they had a decent job it would help (not a perfect solution but I think it would help.)

4. Incremental retirement pay. Get rid of the all or nothing retirement system. My best friend from high school now teaches at the same high school and gets 2.5% per year in retirement pay. Adopt the same system for the military.

5. Expand TSP - I don't trust these funds, so why I can't I invest my own funds into other retirement like bennies. The matching tax free benny would be nice, but one brother is a investment manager at a top investment firm and my old man is a banker. Allow me the choice to invest what I want to invest in...not a government regulated program.

6. Combat tours are to be immediately followed by an institutional Army tour unless dictated by needs of the Army or you want to volunteer for another tour in a BCT or Division. Helps strengthen the institutional Army by getting combat experience in where its needed and helps families out. Problem here is that there is about a 4 to 1 difference in Operational to Institutional slots. Can only be done twice in a 20 year career to limit homesteading outside the Operational force.

120mm
05-14-2007, 04:05 AM
On the other hand, I'm mostly an idiot, and vote against my personal interest to support continued service. I'm like a self-clubbing baby seal.

Would it be okay if I use that quote? I'd say that accurately describes everyone I work with, as well as my wife and myself.

Sargent
05-14-2007, 04:29 AM
"On the other hand, I'm mostly an idiot, and vote against my personal interest to support continued service. I'm like a self-clubbing baby seal."

Would it be okay if I use that quote? I'd say that accurately describes everyone I work with, as well as my wife and myself.

Of course, go ahead. I don't recommend it as a recruiting slogan though.

Or, for the single military personnel, as a pickup line.

Strategic LT
05-24-2007, 09:22 PM
This is an excerpt from an article Army Times.

"Officer bonuses. Active and reserve officers could receive bonuses for commissioning or appointment, for affiliating with or transferring to a reserve component, and for agreeing to stay on active duty.

Commissioning and reserve affiliation bonuses could be up to $60,000. Bonuses for transferring to the reserves or for continued active service could be up to $50,000 for each year of additional service.

Like bonuses for enlisted members, payments could be either lump-sum or installments, at the discretion of the services"

This is too good to be true. If it is make my extension literally indef. haha!

Here is the link to the whole article

http://www.armytimes.com/money/pay_charts/military_bonuses_070523w/

Rob Thornton
05-24-2007, 10:42 PM
Its a start. Now they need to tackle long term Quality of Life improvements targeting families - make them an offer they can't refuse:wry:

Van
05-24-2007, 11:18 PM
$20K is a real slap in the face to Army officers, when Air Force officers (including several non-pilot specialties) were getting $100K+ bonuses. So an Air Force Security Police officer is worth five times as much as an Army MP?

If you're going to try to bribe people, make sure you're at least meeting if not exceeding the going rates in nearby neighborhoods.

jcustis
05-24-2007, 11:45 PM
I for one would be happy just to be able to use my GI Bill with more flexibility. Even if it was only me pulling out the $1,200 I put in years ago, I could apply that to a tactical training school or two, and gain much from it, or that UN Peacekeeping Institute POI that I've eyed for at least 9 years now.

Steve Blair
06-03-2007, 03:48 PM
Very interesting piece! A great deal of what is said seems to agree with Vandergriff's comments about needed overhauls in the personnel system (including the desire to return to a unit than an officer "grew up" in).

Sargent
06-03-2007, 03:51 PM
A friend sent this to me from Iraq. Should start up some more discussion.

Interesting. I would note that many Marines get frustrated by the B-billet rotation -- "I didn't join the Marine Corps as [fill in combat arms mos] to sit behind an [expletive deleted] desk in DC or Quantico!"

Another thing that concerns/worries me is the idea about giving Reg/Brig COs and Bn COs the ability/authority to favor "top performers." There was a reason that this sort of practice was done away with, and that was the problem of the "pets" and favorites receiving benefits to the detriment of others, who, deserving though they might be, were not raging sycophants. This sort of a program needs to be tightly controlled/monitored lest it become a vehicle for field grade officer vanity.

Ski
06-03-2007, 05:20 PM
I like some of it, some of it is ok, some of it is whining.

Strategic LT
06-03-2007, 10:26 PM
I don't necessarily agree with everything in the article, but I have first hand evidence that the army needs to implement a system that would provide a variety of incentives to officers to stay in the army. The fact of the matter is out of all the FA LTs that I associate with I am the only one currently considering staying in after my commitment. That is out of 10 individuals. 10% retention is pretty scary. Obviously this is just a cross section of the army, but it is alarming still the same.

nichols
06-04-2007, 03:38 AM
Interesting. I would note that many Marines get frustrated by the B-billet rotation -- "I didn't join the Marine Corps as [fill in combat arms mos] to sit behind an [expletive deleted] desk in DC or Quantico!"

That is a very important note.

The thread is about retaining Officers, I throw this out on the table; Why not fix the SNCO retention first? Retention as in get rid of the non-thinkers, the ones that don't allow the officer to hang out in the Battalion CP because they need to be micro-managed.

Going from Infantry unit to Infantry is gauranteed to slow promotions. At the 11 year mark I was told that I was a great Infantryman/sniper but it appeared that I was afraid to take the challenge of a B-billet. I was not a well rounded Marine:eek: In those 11 years I had seen many a B-billet rotational Marine come and go to the various Infantry units that I was in, non of them stood out as a "well rounded Infantryman." slackers, non-hackers, drill gurus, spit shine gods, salesmen, and Department of State letter agency specialist yes.....basic patrolling:confused:

For this community a simple question; does a Drill Instructor equate to a superior SNCO?

Promotion wise I would say yes, it opens up the road to SgtMaj.

Independant OODA type thinking....my opinion....NO. The Drill Instructor keeps the schedule in his cover at all times and he'll follow it to the letter! No free thought allowed.

Now taking a look at the pay, a 1st LT with 2 years in has a higher base pay then a SSGT with 16 years in. Even when receiving combat pay and no taxes my family had problems making ends meet when I was deployed.

My last 18 months before retirement, I requested a posting in the DC area. I was hoping to get a marketable skill for retirement, squadleader, sniper, plt Sgt, OTH Navigator, Assualt Climber.......and so on didn't seem like a marketable skill. I ended up in a COD guru's ultimate dream and my worst nightmare.

A CG kept on inviting me down to his office for one on one talks about training decision-making. My command was not allowed to send "adult supervision." My retirement consisted of my CO (LtCol) telling me to "Get the hell out of my office Gunny" after I answered his "what was your best post" question. My answer was as a Sniper Plt Sgt, as a young Sergeant (E-5) I had more independance and free thought then all of my SNCO years combined.

Upon retirement in the DC area I start to notice multiple examples of the homestead act of 1863. Tours between Quantico, Navy Yard, and Henderson Hall. It tears my heart to see Marines with 18-20 years and one deployment when they were junior Marines controlling destinies of Fleet Marines.

Okay, enough crying now.

At retirement many of these multiple deployment servicemembers are buying thier first house. Many of the homesteaders have 15 or so years worth of mortgage payments under thier belts. Multiple deployments also adds up to limited advanced education opportunities.

My simple grunt math is to fix the SNCO pay, offer the 50 percent retirement, throw in a separation/retirement bonus of 500k. When the service member decides to retire the uniform, he or she will know that there is 500k waiting for him or her to put on a house/education/hell of a retirement party. At least they will have an opportunity to compete with thier new peers.

A disclaimer:

I'm an idiot so take the above with a grain of salt;)

WVO
06-04-2007, 05:19 AM
Good point, Nichols, but I think it raises an even better one. Why are there so many billets in the DC area? If you look at the raw numbers, there is 1 General Officer/Flag Officer for every 1600 other ranks. That's two GO/FOs for every Marine infantry regiment. Does it really take that many?

Steve Blair
06-04-2007, 02:12 PM
The issue of low SNCO pay has been with us for longer than many may realize. It was an issue in the post-Civil War army (to the point that one officer told congress he'd take a pay cut to be able to increase the pay of his first sergeant), as was the staff versus line debate. Maybe someday they'll actually take it on...:rolleyes:

nichols
06-05-2007, 02:58 AM
WVO, good question.

Now that I have lost my emotional knots from Sam's Plasma Gun post last night........

I've come to the conclusion that the B-billets and heavy Officer/SNCO representation in the DC area actually helped me develop into I think a better Marine. The Corps got more bang for the buck being that I was a Squad Leader as a L/Cpl and a Plt Sgt as a Sergeant and single (I finally requested to move out in town when I was a SSgt; my Marine Corps teenage years ;)). Of course I had many instances of Good Initiative, bad judgement counselings as I was teething :)

Only problem is that those B-billets get promoted a whole helluva lot quicker and the hardchargers in the DC area determine the fate of the fleet.

If I could do it all over again, I honestly wouldn't change any of it. Logically this makes no sence to me but this is how I feel.

The one thing that needs to be fixed is the discrepancy between pay, you put the rockers on and the pay should reflect and accountability should be demanded by the Officer's from thier SNCOs.

Current servicemembers at the 10 year mark should be offered the 500k bonus upon retirement.

MattM
06-08-2007, 04:26 AM
Interesting. I would note that many Marines get frustrated by the B-billet rotation -- "I didn't join the Marine Corps as [fill in combat arms mos] to sit behind an [expletive deleted] desk in DC or Quantico!"



I'm not finding fault with Sargent's post, but with the quoted attitude that is often expressed over beers at the O-Club.

The career path options for a Marine Officer are minted before that officer is initially commissioned. The company grade officers that young lieutenant begins his service with are all serving B-Billets (MOI, OSO, Naval Academy Staff, TBS, MOS School). The field grade officers in the fleet units all have served in B-Billets as well. At TBS, each career path brief includes the obvious B-Billet schedule. Even the Marine Officer's Guide (valid but dated) lists the B-Billets.

Thus, when the aforementioned quote is offered forward to solicit praise from an officer's peers, it is really a high point of ignorance. Does that officer expect Manpower to fly out from DC and draft up the ideal "combat arms" twenty year career without B Billets?

Concerning the original intent of the thread, my observation has been that most company and field grade officers will not make more money in salary when leaving the service, but will enjoy a more closely tailored quality of life to their own personal interets. Additionally, the edge they might lose in salary will more than likely be realized in reduced living expenses and more lucrative real estate opportunities.