Page 2 of 19 FirstFirst 123412 ... LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 361

Thread: Officer Retention

  1. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Washington DC
    Posts
    1

    Default Retention Bonuses

    My first post since I joined SWC. By the way, I've enjoyed the exchanges I've read so far and appreciate the thoughtfulness of the comments on serious issues.

    WRT bonuses, Navy's experience is quite different as Army is just starting down this road. We've been at it awhile - approx 1975 (I'm referring to specific lump-sum bonuses, not special pays like flight pay, sub pay, etc which are monthly adds that have quite a long history in the service).

    My take-away from our experience is that the money, in and of itself, will never bring about a decision to stay for the people you really want to stay, but it will help prep the battlespace for the decision (particularly wrt spouse and family) if you get the amount right and keep it competitive.

    What seems to work best in order to keep the best is a blended solution - meaningful operational tours with career recognition for those whose service merits it, advanced education opportunity and maintaining the proper balance between operational time (sea duty for us) and "home" time (shore duty).

    Again, very different experiences going on now in Navy than with bulk of Army combat arms JOs, but the principles remain the same, I believe.

    And, since in a very special way as Army goes so go the Armed Forces, I'm keeping a close eye on what is happening in my Army. Take care shipmates and all the best, JCHjr

  2. #22
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    10

    Default

    The problem in my initial posting was not how to attack ivy league types (who will never elect to enter military service). My objective was to discuss the problem of keeping company and field grade officers in the Army. The pressures on the Army to expand to 48 BCTs, transfrom, and simultaneously fight a long war have required making changes in historically levels and rates of promotion which have directly impacted the perceptions of officers that the promotion system is currently not merit based. The impact of promoting marginal performers can not be overstated. Imagine a CPT that worked with a marginal performing CPT who is now a MAJ. How demoralizing is that? Solutions to problems such as these are not derived in Washington or at some bureau but through dialogue with the force to capture their perceptions.

    If company and field grade officers are not asked their opioions, attitudes, and beliefs then their perception is the Army is not interested in what thay have to say. But their is a disconnect in the thinking of many officers on the "Army". The Army is really made up of two halves - one the one hand is the Department of the Army bureaucracy that runs all the personnel and administriva systems - OER, boards, LES, etc., and on the other hand is the "real" Army made of the unit you were in, the one you're in now, and the one you're going to be in. Making the distinction between the two is important because it helps you identify the source of the problem, which is not the unit Army. Again, if the bureaucracy ignores the force it will never figure out why officers are leaving is the first place.
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 08-28-2007 at 01:43 PM. Reason: fixed typo as moderator drive-by courtesy

  3. #23
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hello Sir,

    Quote Originally Posted by CNP View Post
    My first post since I joined SWC. By the way, I've enjoyed the exchanges I've read so far and appreciate the thoughtfulness of the comments on serious issues.
    Welcome aboard!

    Quote Originally Posted by CNP View Post
    My take-away from our experience is that the money, in and of itself, will never bring about a decision to stay for the people you really want to stay, but it will help prep the battlespace for the decision (particularly wrt spouse and family) if you get the amount right and keep it competitive.

    What seems to work best in order to keep the best is a blended solution - meaningful operational tours with career recognition for those whose service merits it, advanced education opportunity and maintaining the proper balance between operational time (sea duty for us) and "home" time (shore duty).
    I have a suspicion that it also relates to the concept of a "flexible career path". Ever since the demise of the "Organization Man" as a central cultural expectation (~1982 in Canada at the pop culture level), there has been an increasing expectation that each "job" (in the very old sense of the word) will give people new skills and network contacts that will be useful in finding their next "job", even if they stay in the same organization. A lot of recent research in career points to people choosing less money in order to gain favourable skills and network contacts, but only for a limited time (~2-3 years or so).

    Many of the high tech firms got around the problem of retention by bypassing their HR departments in both hiring and career decisions. They adopted a mentoring model with hiring/project managers acting as mentors using a very dense network of weak ties as their basis, and this might be a model that the Army may want to adopt, at least in part (basically, it decentralizes a large part of the "individual career growth" responsibilities from HR to informal networks).

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  4. #24
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Rocky Mtn Empire
    Posts
    473

    Default Deja vu

    Patriot --

    Yes, it is demoralizing to see less than stellar officers move up the ranks. It is also troubling to see good officers leave, either voluntarily, or not.

    If it's any reassurance, the system will correct itself once hostilities wind down. Since the Army intends to stay large, it will not happen with the same alacrity as post-Vietnam or post-Cold War, but it will happen. I was personally disappointed when the Army elected to use market forces to reduce the junior officer corps after the Cold War, rather than making the tough call to eliminate marginal performers.

    When re-balancing does occur, it will not be perfect and it won't be "fair". Life ain't fair. As an observer/participant in several RIFs and SERBs, I can tell you from experience that it is heartbreaking to see some really outstanding officers selected to depart, while their less qualified peers survive.

    It is incumbent on the senior leadership, starting at the bn level, to counsel young talent, develop it, and provide the OER/awards/etc to keep the talent motivated and moving up. That personal involvement is much more important than any systemic programs.

  5. #25
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Many of the high tech firms got around the problem of retention by bypassing their HR departments in both hiring and career decisions. They adopted a mentoring model with hiring/project managers acting as mentors using a very dense network of weak ties as their basis, and this might be a model that the Army may want to adopt, at least in part (basically, it decentralizes a large part of the "individual career growth" responsibilities from HR to informal networks).

    Marc
    The old regimental system (at least in the US Army) tended to work along similar lines. Obviously the effectiveness varied from regiment to regiment, but officers who didn't make the grade were "encouraged" to leave the service.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  6. #26
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Posts
    1,127

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot View Post
    The impact of promoting marginal performers can not be overstated. Imagine a CPT that worked with a marginal performing CPT who is now a MAJ. How demoralizing is that? Solutions to problems such as these are not derived in Washington or at some bureau but through dialogue with the force to capture their perceptions.

    Again, if the bureaucracy ignores the force it will never figure out why officers are leaving is the first place.
    Agreed.

    I'm not always a fan of everything posted over at Defense and the National Interest, but this article captured what I had been thinking.

    What we are seeing now is little more than the bill coming due from the issues identified and discussed in 2000-2001 when my peers were leaving the force in high numbers due many of the same issues we're discussing here. 9/11 caused a stir of patriotism and service that caused many to decide to stay in the army to fight the enemy. Hence, the low exit rates in 2002-2004.

    Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The army never dealt with the issues in the 2000-2001 studies, and the stress on the force (which people thought was bad then!) has grown exponentially. The Army didn’t deal with the structural and generational issues.

    In a way, a perfect storm is here. Officers are generally getting out for a mixture of the following reasons:

    1) OPTEMPO. Many officers I know that left the army enjoyed their service, but just can’t handle the repeated deployments. It is particularly hard on those who were LT’s since 2002. Most are facing their third or fourth deployment, and they don’t have an “exit option” to a slower job in the immediate future. All they see are additional deployments. If married, this means usually having been deployed to training or war the majority of their marriage. If single, it means they have no opportunity to develop meaningful relationships.

    The cumulative effect of deployments cannot be underestimated. The “12 months dwell time” between deployments is more aptly described as “12 months of lighting your hair on fire and running in circles” to prepare for the next deployment. In effect, soldiers really get between 4-6 actual months of deployment time at home, and only the leave period is truly restful.

    2) Leadership Failure. This is the issue from the 90’s that remains unaddressed, and the link above has all the studies and essays that define it. 9/11 gave the army a "hall pass" on the issue. Many young officers I know exit because their first boss was a “bad” boss. The army has no institutional incentive (unless another Marshall comes along) to reform it’s officer training and leadership system with respect to junior officers. That attitude is derived from “After all, the system obviously works because it recognized *my* talent and made me a LTC, COL, General, etc., and those who didn’t get promoted didn’t deserve it anyway”

    It does all come down to leadership, and many junior officers don’t see that their leaders or the army really care about them. It’s not because the words aren’t right, it’s the actions and “can-do”/”suck it up, it will pass” attitude that comes out. We’ve all watched leave cancelled, equipment shortfalls, training corners cut, etc. It communicates a very clear message. I was fortunate that in my most wavering time I worked for an exceptional battalion commander, who built the best team I’ve seen in the army and made the army “fun”. Even through 15 months of OIF. Unfortunately, he’s the exception.

    3) The Peter Principle. 100% of my peers in my year group got promoted to major. I know my peers. 100% of us didn’t need to get promoted. My former company xo, who left the army, citied high promotions as a factor before he left. Pointing to a universally known, subpar peer of mine, he said “If the army’s willing to make him a major and put him in charge of troops again, this isn’t an army I want to be in”.

    Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, writes in his book “Winning” about the criticality of differentiation. If you reward everyone equally, the middle “good” performers lose their motivation quickest (the top generally perform that way because it’s in their nature) and leave the organization. Hence Welch ruthlessly culled the bottom 10%. It resulted in better performance in the organization because people knew performance was rewarded and incompetence and underperformance was cut.

    The army is turning into a version of the Special Olympics – in promotions, OER’s, and medals. Everyone’s a winner, but some of us are still handicapped. There is no block check on CPT OER's anymore. Everyone of certain grades (with rare exception) gets a Bronze Star at the end of their OIF rotation, deserved or not, fobbit or not, role or not. When a medal doesn’t differentiate from the population, it loses its meaning. How can someone differentiate what I did for mine versus theirs? What do you tell a young Sergeant who patrolled Ramadi every day and got an ARCOM when individuals who never left the wire walk away with Bronze Stars? (Don’t get me wrong, some supporters deserve every bit of it for keeping the line supplied, but since everyone gets it, it’s meaningless)

    4) A mismanaged war. Kaplan’s article, and LTC Yingling’s, describe this one well. Our junior officers see this all unfolding, they have been closest to the line, and seen the most suffering among their soldiers and peers. It's personal, painful, and emotional to them, and they want someone to blame. That's natural (to a point) in all wars.

    That said, I remain optimistic. I think that, like after Vietnam, those that remain and went through the crucible as a junior officer will enact significant change on the system. And I think that today’s leadership are actually slightly more attuned to the issue than the Vietnam generation, and are at least beginning to try to find solutions. But I think the calculus is that for now it is easier to bribe them to stay in (bonuses, grad school) than to address the real systemic problems while at war.

    Finally the whole discussion and GEN Cody brief reminds me of this incident with GEN Abrams while chief of staff in the early 70’s. Will our leadership be as perceptive?
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  7. #27
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    489

    Default

    There will be no solution until the Army leadership stops working off a "100% = success" system.

    It's all about meeting numbers at this point. The entire Army, throughout all components, is becoming critically short on CPT's and MAJ's. Just look at the promotion rates over the last three years. It doesn't matter if you are the Morale and Welfare Officer at Ft. Greely, or the 977th Dishwashing and Laundry Company Commander, you're still going to make 04 without any difficulty, and 05 with a tiny bit of difficulty.

    And since the Army has decided to expand by 35,000 pax, these strains will be accentuated rather than addressed because the focus is still on quantity, not quality.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

  8. #28
    Council Member Van's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Posts
    414

    Default

    Footnote on the "Bad Bosses";

    The tour where I decided to exit active duty ('99-'00), I had a BDE CDR who was a real 'go-to-war', light fighter, steely-eyed killer but had a command climate that made it clear that anyone without a ranger tab, anyone who wasn't an infantry officer, wasn't really worth his time, effort, or resources, and should be replaced by a "REAL" officer. In a light brigade, he might have been OK, but this was a mechanized BDE... I left that unit, and was back in the reserves a year later.

    Fast forward six years... I did some drill days supporting an exercise, and COL Hoo-ah was in the same room as I was... He wasn't selected for BG, and all the Hoo-ah had left him.

    I firmly believe that the heart of the problem is the 'flesh-trader' mentality of the Army's personnel system, treating all officers as interchangable with other officers of a given rank and specialty. That's what put an end to my time on active duty. The best example and most pathetic attempt at negotiation ever, was from my branch manager during my last phone-con with branch. This harassed, overworked/bumbling non-people oriented (you choose) individual couldn't wrap himself around the idea that there might be incentives other than my next assignment to pursuade me to stay on active duty, and that money was not the only reason I was leaving active duty.

  9. #29
    Council Member wm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    On the Lunatic Fringe
    Posts
    1,237

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    I firmly believe that the heart of the problem is the 'flesh-trader' mentality of the Army's personnel system, treating all officers as interchangable with other officers of a given rank and specialty.
    Van,

    I am sure that we all have some story (or stories) about a benighted branch assignment officer. But, these stories are just anecdotal symptoms of the big disease. The "flesh trader mentality" is not unique to the Army's personnel system. It has a much larger scope. It is best expressed in the discussions about reducing the "tooth to tail" ratio.

    The miltary could have a very focused effort to match faces and spaces, put the best person for the job in that job. But to do so would require a much larger investment in people and time doing administrative/non-combat/tail sorts of things than our budgets allow. We see this fact in many places--reduction in lengths of time that folks are kept in training, the number of times that people are allowed to train, the move to replace manned with unmanned combat and surveillance vehicles being just a few examples. The point is that budgets drive us to do things we might not otherwise have chosen. However, I think that, to borrow Dr. Seuss's title, if I ran the circus, I'd spend a lot more of my money on the commodity most precious to any organization--the people and better systems to support their needs at the higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy.

    Lest I be accused of one-sided thinking, let me acknowledge that there are other considerations that may be more unique to the military's need to manage people at the least common denominator. These have to do with interoperability and continuity of operations. When a TOC gets blown away, one must hope that the leadership was not so specialized that it was irreplaceable. (I realize that this example has a fair amount of hyperbole.) Perhaps a better example would be Army Engineers--one of their explicit missions in the 1993 vintage FM100-5 from is "to fight as infantry when required." Too much specialization and selectivity in assignments run counter to these requirements.

    We must find a the middle way.

  10. #30
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    monterey
    Posts
    17

    Default my $.02

    I agree with the points made by Cavguy as the source of the issues and I concur with Rob's approach to the problem.

    The system is way to focused on the 50 meter target (retaining first term guys) at the expense and disillusionment of the 100-150 meter target (2nd term and career guys.

    The system of rewards have to get back to encouraging long term buy in to the organization and not just doing your 2-4 years and taking your money or education and heading off to the private sector to make some real money.

    It's about rewarding the right behavior, which in turn shows what the system values. Right now those who have been sacrificing and who continue to do so are not rewarded accordingly. The incentives that were recently proposed for young CPTs is a perfect example, focus on getting the new people to sign up for longer but no reward for those that are already committed and will likely stay for 20.

    I know that I initially joined the Army as a way to ensure an acceptable quality of life for my family and because I wanted to be part of an honorable and respected profession. I really can't complain about the rewards I have recieved as I have been able to give my family a great quality of life and have had a BA and now a master's paid for by the Army. However, it is difficult to see others who have done less and likely will do less get rewarded more simply because we need the bodies.

    I agree with Rob's assessment that we must make the military be an attractive profession to the masses. This is very difficult in an economic environment that offers much greater monetary opportunities in the civilian sector.

    Although I too would like to remain positive about this, the pragmatic side of me feels that this really won't get better until the US economy takes another down turn and it becomes attractive again for those high quality people, who succeed in everything they do, to stay on board for the long haul.

  11. #31
    Council Member Van's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    Posts
    414

    Default

    WM
    The solution is imbedded in your restatement of the problem, if I may quote slightly out of context:
    a much larger investment in people
    There's the solution, but noone in a position to change things is ready to acknowledge that the baby is really this ugly.

    Now just a little more of the story; at the time that I left the AC, my branch had THE worst retention rate for company grade officers. Was the Korean War era personnel management system the only issue? No. Was it a major issue? Yes. I'll agree that it is part of a bigger problem, but I believe that it is "the last straw" for many folks we should really be trying to keep.

  12. #32
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    63

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot View Post
    The problem in my initial posting was not how to attack ivy league types (who will never elect to enter military service). My objective was to discuss the problem of keeping company and field grade officers in the Army.
    That this is assumed to be fact is a problem in and of itself. I was answering marct's question, but the tie-in is that the shift in recruiting in the past decades away from the west and northeast and towards the south is hurting the diversity and quality of the officer pool - with the result that you have more poor performers demotivating everyone else and competing for the same slots come promotion time.

    For example, compare the city of New York with Alabama. NYC has twice as many occupants and four times as many college students as the state of Alabama. But we have just 2 AROTC programs vice 10 in Alabama, producing 1/5th as many officers.
    http://online.wsj.com/public/resourc...bk0702-14.html
    The Army blames this on the difficulty of recruiting Northeast and urban students. But it's become a self-perpetuating prophecy. The closure and consolidation of urban ROTC units and the consequent shift in recruiting funds have dwindled the ROTC presence in major college towns like Boston and New York to a wisp - ROTC recruiting is practically nonexistent outside of the two home campuses.

    The distribution of funding and programs makes sense from a numbers perspective to go after easier markets, but only under the dangerous assumption that every student is interchangeable - that the 200th student you add here is just as good as the 10th student elsewhere. When you're digging 20x as deep in one student pool vice another, don't be surprised at the results.

    I find it ironic that we'll praise civilian graduate liberal arts education on one hand, holding up Petraeus' Princeton doctorate as an example, and then so quickly write off undergraduates from the same elite institutions as not worth the effort to recruit.

    Public service will always have trouble competing with the private sector in terms of monetary compensation - and I worry about the day that the federal government becomes the most lucrative employer. But the problem today is that to many Americans, military service is considered distinct and inferior to other forms of public service.

  13. #33
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mmx1 View Post
    But the problem today is that to many Americans, military service is considered distinct and inferior to other forms of public service.
    This is more a return of what has (sadly) been a typical American mindset. The military in general (and the Army in particular) was considered the refuge of unemployable scoundrels up until the Depression era.

    But back to the problem of recruiting and the like at elite schools; you also miss out on some of the best and brightest from other states. These days it's very common for kids to go to out-of-state universities, and there you're really missing a promising recruiting pool. Often those kids are top-notch performers, and in some cases they come from states (like Montana) that still have a strong spirit of service. But if there's no ROTC, they can't take part in that and still attend the school they feel they've had to fight their way into.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #34
    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    REMFing it up in DC
    Posts
    250

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot View Post
    The problem in my initial posting was not how to attack ivy league types (who will never elect to enter military service). My objective was to discuss the problem of keeping company and field grade officers in the Army.
    Sir, my apologies; didn't mean to hijack your thread. I do want to respond to Rob, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for making a decision to serve!
    Thank you. But only if they let me - I still gotta apply and pass OCS. . .



    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post

    So I'd ask you how you change the attitude of your peers? How do you convince the bright & ambitious young men and women of Cornell, that a career in the uniformed service is something they not only should do to safeguard their freedoms, but something they want to do because it will fulfill both their moral sensibilities and their more physical ones such as providing a standard of living for them and their families which is comparable to the many other vocations their abilities might secure?

    Best Regards, Rob
    Certainly the money is an issue - it's the right place to start. Beyond that, I'm not sure I can solve the problem; maybe just further diagnose it. The problem lies in part in what my peers value - and what their parents value. My parents are exceedingly unhappy about my decision, and they aren't nearly as shallow as some were about the importance of "Ivy League" status or any of that. It's as if some parents (and it transfers to their kids) believe all that matters is status, as represented by money and "rank" on the social totem pole. Beyond the money, the military is no longer viewed by these people as honorable. The stereotype of homocidal neanderthal remains. The only way to break that cycle, obviously, is to prove it wrong by attracting more ambitious college grads.
    So it's a self-perpetuating problem. The only way out of it I see is a national call to service - someone or something simply has to inspire certain kids in my generation to stop worrying only about instant gratification and serve the nation. I think Bush failed after 9/11 to do that. There was no call for America's best and brightest to put off their legal or I-banking ambitions and don a uniform. And at this point, I don't think anyone would listen to him. I am not sure what short of a new leader and a new national catastrophe would change that.

    I know - I didn't really solve the problem, just explained it more. Oh, well.

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

  15. #35
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default

    Matt,
    You are going to make a very fine officer I think. We certainly appreciate your candor - it will serve you and those you lead well.
    Best regards, Rob

  16. #36
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wherever my stuff is
    Posts
    823

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    So I'd ask you how you change the attitude of your peers?
    Rob,

    I know you've been in my professional neighborhood for a while and know what I do on a day to day basis. After over 400 new lieutenants over the last 10 months, I can safely say that the attitude won't change until the societal values change. I never would have thought to ask a senior branch-qualified captain the question "why" when given a specified task. Perhaps its a sign of me getting old. I actually called an LT "son" today in a derogatory manner. He's 7 years younger than me. I feel like I just turned into my father last night....
    Example is better than precept.

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Thumbs up Heh. Been there, done that. Know what?

    It only gets worse...

  18. #38
    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    156

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    It's as if some parents (and it transfers to their kids) believe all that matters is status, as represented by money and "rank" on the social totem pole. Beyond the money, the military is no longer viewed by these people as honorable. The stereotype of homocidal neanderthal remains.
    I think part of the problem is that being an officer in the military is no longer viewed as a profession but rather as just another management job that comes with the added "benefits" of being more dangerous, having crappier hours, and providing less pay.

    The only way to break that cycle, obviously, is to prove it wrong by attracting more ambitious college grads.
    How do you attract those college grads?

    How about target them while they are still undergrads? I not talking about my stepping up current recruitment strategies.

    Rather, lets send back high quality post-command captains and even junior captains for a second undergraduate degree. Introduce undergrads, many of whom may still be undecided about their post-graduation plans, to an officer not much older than them. Show the undergrads via first hand personal interaction that the military is not full of "homocidal neanderthals" but men and women who at the core are not much different than them. Additionally, the officers' main task would not be to actively recruit, their main task would be to earn a second undergraduate degree. However, through the social interaction that will happen in classes and study groups as well in extracurricular activities such as campus organizations, clubs, and intramural sports they are able to present a positive image of what a military officer is.

    Basically, I think one of the the best ways, if not the best way, to change the negative perceptions undergrads may have of the military is by increasing personal contact and relationships with those currently serving in the military.

    So it's a self-perpetuating problem. The only way out of it I see is a national call to service - someone or something simply has to inspire certain kids in my generation to stop worrying only about instant gratification and serve the nation. I think Bush failed after 9/11 to do that. There was no call for America's best and brightest to put off their legal or I-banking ambitions and don a uniform. And at this point, I don't think anyone would listen to him. I am not sure what short of a new leader and a new national catastrophe would change that.
    I do not know how much of an impact the call to service would have had immediaetly following 9/11. A think alot of the young people who would have been inclined to heed the call would have been the same ones who saw the "implied task" in watching 9/11 unfold live on CNN and were already looking into how to serve. Additionally, a call to national service now would also be ineffective as those who are willing to serve are already planning to serve. The "call" now may push some fence-sitters but I think more fence-sitters will end up being drawn in by the recruiting bonuses out there.

    Reference money: I think money is atleast a partial answer to recruiting and retention at all levels. However, while I think the increased OPTEMPO requires bonuses as a reward/incentive for staying, I also think that a substantial increase in base pay across the board, E-1 to O-10, would be a signal that the military, and the nation, is willing to invest in servicemembers and that an increased level of financial compensation will remain over the long-term, not just as long as there is increased OPTEMPO. Additionally, if you intend to retain officers, and junior Soldiers and NCOs, by selling the military to be a longterm career the increased base pay would provide more financial promise than the current system of relying solely on bonuses. Increased base pay equals relatively guarenteed and predictable future financial compensation while bonuses are really just a short-term increase in base pay for as long as there is an increased demand and/or decreased supply caused by increased OPTEMPO or other factors.
    Last edited by jonSlack; 08-30-2007 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Wasn't finished when I accidentally submitted.
    "In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

  19. #39
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Estonia
    Posts
    3,817

    Default

    Hey Matt !

    I echo the praise of the others herein...Thanks for joining what I consider to be America's finest institution !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    Certainly the money is an issue - it's the right place to start. Beyond that, I'm not sure I can solve the problem; maybe just further diagnose it. The problem lies in part in what my peers value - and what their parents value. My parents are exceedingly unhappy about my decision, and they aren't nearly as shallow as some were about the importance of "Ivy League" status or any of that. It's as if some parents (and it transfers to their kids) believe all that matters is status, as represented by money and "rank" on the social totem pole. Beyond the money, the military is no longer viewed by these people as honorable. The stereotype of homocidal neanderthal remains. The only way to break that cycle, obviously, is to prove it wrong by attracting more ambitious college grads.
    I recall our neighbors freaking out when my old man told them I was joining the Army. He blew it off, but not before giving them a load of Sierra for not wanting their son in the service of our country. Later in the 80s their kid joined anyway.

    I don't recall if the issue was just money (back then it wasn't the greatest paycheck), but our neighbors were very worried about the status quo. Some colleges won't permit US Military recruiters to post ads or even let them address classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    So it's a self-perpetuating problem. The only way out of it I see is a national call to service - someone or something simply has to inspire certain kids in my generation to stop worrying only about instant gratification and serve the nation. I think Bush failed after 9/11 to do that. There was no call for America's best and brightest to put off their legal or I-banking ambitions and don a uniform. And at this point, I don't think anyone would listen to him. I am not sure what short of a new leader and a new national catastrophe would change that.
    I fully concur with you. Following 9/11 would have been an ideal opportunity for a draft. Granted not all will remain after fulfilling their conscript periods, but those that remain want to, and that's paramount. At the very least, we will have a cadre of young educated folks that better understand the US Military, appreciate what others are sacrificing, and who are sufficiently trained to pick up a weapon and fight for the USA !

    Regards, Stan

  20. #40
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hi Matt,

    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    Sir, my apologies; didn't mean to hijack your thread. I do want to respond to Rob, though.
    Well, I don't think it is a topic hijacking . Actually, recruitment, retention, professional development and retirement are really all part of a unified system (along with a bunch of other areas).

    Quote Originally Posted by MattC86 View Post
    The problem lies in part in what my peers value - and what their parents value. My parents are exceedingly unhappy about my decision, and they aren't nearly as shallow as some were about the importance of "Ivy League" status or any of that. It's as if some parents (and it transfers to their kids) believe all that matters is status, as represented by money and "rank" on the social totem pole. Beyond the money, the military is no longer viewed by these people as honorable. The stereotype of homocidal neanderthal remains. The only way to break that cycle, obviously, is to prove it wrong by attracting more ambitious college grads.
    Back in the 1950's and 60's, sociologists used to rank professions o their social status (I haven't seen any of those since the 1980's or so - then again, 'm not really looking for them). "Professions", as a group, all tend to have exemplars in popular culture that help to establish and maintain their status. This, in turn, "teaches" the younger professionals how to act. I remember reading a study of the Mafia years ago, and it turned out that a lot of them used the Godfather as their role model.

    So, what role models do we have in popular culture for the military? Just in the TV show area, I can really only think of JAG and The Unit - neither of which is exactly the "normal". Then we have shows like Over There and, sorry, blanking on the name - it's a Vietnam era series, that tend to send out anti-military narratives or, if not full narratives,then at least anti-military tropes or schemas (which you also find to some degree in Jag and the Unit).

    The big archetype that is missing is the old defensor hominem (Defender of Mankind - think the Archangel Michael in Roman Catholicism, Mithras in the Roman Legions, or Horus in Egypt). In a very weird way, this archetype has been co-opted by the anti-military crowd using a justification of the military attacks civilians therefore we protect humanity by attacking the military. This is probably one of the roots of the homicidal neanderthal stereotype (or "myrmidon" for the Ivy League types ).

    The truly encouraging, to my mind at any rate, point is that for anti-military social movements to adopt this archetype, they have to be willing to act as if the were military forces (which we can see happening) - and they are freakin' incompetent in this role! Furthermore, that narrative when grabbed by the anti-military movements is quite unstable, and subject to a really good counter narrative that appropriates elements of their own position. A really good example of such a counter narrative ("Fight Fear") is the current series of recruitment commercials for the Canadian forces (available here, requires Flash 8).

    You say that "The only way to break that cycle, obviously, is to prove it wrong by attracting more ambitious college grads" and I both agree and disagree. Yes, certainly attracting college grads is a crucial component of countering that stereotype, but it also has to be done by media campaigns - counter narratives - and also by something similar to what JonSlack is suggesting. And, BTW, the counter narratives have to start early, e.g. kids cartoons and shows.

    Let me toss out a final point here that has been touched on in a lot of the retention discussions and that is "family life". One of the key points about status and status displays, and now I'm using an evolutionary psych argument, has always been to attract and retain mates. Just from a quick gleaning of the other threads, one of the key retention issues for junior officers and NCOs appears to be related to either starting a family or keeping one together which has become increasingly difficult with the heavy op tempo. It's also damn hard to justify in terms of mating strategies. Think about it for a minute - "hi, marry me - I'll have a competitive salary and you'll only see me three months out of every year and, oh yeah, I'll be posted in that place where we are getting blown away." This is not a good argument that you will be around to help raise the kids (although it may be a good argument for other things ).

    So, how do we make the military (rather than the anti-military) "attractive" in the sense of mate selection? I'm not sure, although there are some areas that would help - dependents benefits, money, education for the entire family (esp. children), etc.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •