Well, it’s an idea…

Former Marine puts on his big boy pants and says, “Let’s Axe the Air Force

Yes, air power is a critical component of America’s arsenal. But the Army, Navy and Marines already maintain air wings within their expeditionary units. The Air Force is increasingly a redundancy in structure and spending.

It’s an idea… I’m not so sure it’s the *right* one, but it’s a start.

However, I’m sure everyone who reads the article will key on that first part, and miss the second, which is actually a good point…

The result is an “up or out” system that demands service members move up the ladder simply to stay in the military. Any soldier passed over for promotion twice must leave or retire.

Treating service members like so many widgets — in particular, the enlisted men and women who make up 85 percent of the ranks — is arbitrary and bad management. I have seen many fit, experienced officers and enlisted Marines arbitrarily forced out because there were only so many slots into which they could be promoted.

Totally agree. Granted, there is most definitely some dead wood hanging around that needs to be pruned periodically, but just because a guy doesn’t screen for XO doesn’t mean he’s worthless to the force.

Exhibit A) Navy Times reporting that there’s a severe shortage in the O-3 to O-5 levels of the sub and surface forces:

“Though officer retention rates have generally increased, there remain select shortfalls in the control grades,” he wrote, referring to aggregate numbers across all the officer communities. “Commander and lieutenant commander inventories are below requirements. Special and incentive pays and quality of life initiatives remain the primary tools to reduce these shortfalls.”

The submarine service is also seeing control-grade shortages. Ferguson said goals were met only once in the past five years, adding that the force is short 452 critical billets Navy-wide.

He also noted shortages among junior nuclear-trained SWOs, but he did not include data.

Why? Because we do not give those who are no longer advancing in their warfare specialty any reason to stay in the field.

Say what you want about incentive pays, etc. if you don’t feel like you’re appreciated or performing a worthwhile function, you don’t stay around. Period. And if you’ve spend 10 years in a community focused on moving up, when you are no longer doing so you don’t want to hang around because you want to go someplace where you can still move up. It’s now part of your wiring. Advance or perish.

But the real point is, we need to hold on to those who are experienced as long as they are helpful. The guy who’s stuck at O-4 may not help in the numbers game for available O-6’s in the fleet, but he knows a heck of alot more than the O-1 coming fresh from the pipeline. That’s not nothing.

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3 Responses to Well, it’s an idea…

  1. Hayball says:

    If you let the guys in the “crunch zone” who failed to select stick around on a one year at a time basis, it would keep the old carrot out in front of their nose. Just enough to make up shortages and just to the last fogie for the paygrade plus two years, or retirement eligiblity, which ever comes later.

    Radical suggestion two:
    Any time one of the guys who selected gets the boot after a court,
    pull up one of the fail select guys as a probationary select and give him a second bite, if he hacks it confirm his selection after a year in grade in a hard dirty job. Make the selection by lot and acceptance of the hair shirt job.

    Rationale: in the crunch zone the boards work by how silver tongued the briefer is, if you have somebody in the board who thinks well of you, or ill of the reporting senior who left you a lump of coal for christmas, or ouiji board. The system can’t measure differences in records, much less real world merit that well. There are always bums who select and heroes who don’t.

    Guys with something to prove tend to have a fire in their belly. Remember Iacocca? They can surprise and amaze.

    The best ASW group commodore in the royal navy in WWII failed select just before the war, I believe. As did the guy who pulled off the Dunkirk evacuation.

    The above opinion is approved by nobody and worth every penny you paid for it.

  2. fastnav says:

    You’re not too far off from what currently happens in some fields, Hayball.

    In the sub force, a certain percentage of guys screen XO(SS), whcih essentially means they go through the XO training pipeline and then are in the bullpen for a year in case someone fails to finish their XO tour for whatever reason. But they only have one year and then the chances of them getting pulled up go away.

    But that still leaves all the others. What to do with them?

    And I agree with you on the best guys being those that failed earlier. Everyone brings up Nimitz, who ran aground as a JO. I’ve found some earlier stories such as Mush Morton having been removed from command, but given another chance. WAHOO was actually his third command.

    It’s all about timing some times.

  3. Niall says:

    It might not be a bad idea to get the Air Force out of air warfare (i.e., fighters and bombers) and just make them concentrate on space, which is what they seem to be most interested in anyway.

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