Of course they aren’t. Besides our own individual experiences and those of peers, superiors, and subordinates, the numbers overwhelmingly agree. 44% of active duty servicemembers have children. Breaking it down by rank shows that the more senior the member, the more likely they are to have children. Over 80% of field grade officers and midgrade to senior enlisted in the Marine Corps have children—and by children, the report only includes those under age 21 or enrolled as a student, explaining slightly lower numbers at the top ranks. The Navy looks similar (from DoD’s 2010 Demographics Report).

This really just tells us that the more senior you are, the more likely you are to have kids. Common sense. So what’s the point here?

As many of us know, military life requires a unique commitment from both the servicemember and the family. Time was, the family norm for society as a whole and the military in particular included a male breadwinner and a wife/mother at home with the kids. Due to the demands of a military career and the military lifestyle, this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s simply harder for a spouse to finish an education and find stable, well-paying work if you move every few years. It’s also harder to get child care outside of the home to enable employment if you move often.

However, over the past few decades, America has changed, and so have American families. Women and men are more educated, with women comprising approximately 55% of college graduates each year, and women work outside of the home in ever-increasing numbers. By 2000, only one in five marriages featured a male breadwinner with a wife at home. Even in families with new babies, more than half of the mothers were back at work inside of a year. The vast majority of mothers work outside of the home (from the Hoover Institution’s July 2004 “The Changing American Family” by Herbert Klein).

What does that tell us?

We know the dedication and demands required by a military career, especially in the higher ranks, tougher/more rewarding jobs, and command. To succeed and excel, servicemembers with children need a supportive family: a spouse who can sacrifice to do the majority of the child-rearing, to move when needed, to single-parent when called to.

But families have changed. Military spouses have too: only 45% of officer spouses and 32% of enlisted spouses are unemployed and not looking for work (DoD 2010 Demographics Report). Single parents are increasing among active duty members just as they are in society.

Women are entering the military in greater numbers, and dual-military marriages are more common. The percentage of women in the military is increasing, and will only continue to rise.

And, ironically, women generally hit the most common childbearing years right as they approach the middle ranks, or as their husbands approach those same ranks (and wives have their own careers to maintain).

Fewer stay-at-home-moms + more career-oriented mothers + more educated members/spouses + everybody having kids later + increased demand on fathers despite military obligations + demands of ten years of war on families + no change in policy = more people leaving active duty in the middle ranks due to family obligations

Do we have to do anything to attract these people/families? Of course not. The military could keep on its present course, because there will always be a pool of individuals who fit the traditional mold of the single breadwinner with supportive spouse and kids. But American society and national trends show that this pool will be ever-shrinking. What will this pool look like in another 10 years? 20? Limiting ourselves to a shrinking group of people will severely limit the quality of those who join us and who fill our senior ranks.

There are solutions out there. I’ve mentioned sabbaticals and continue to believe the idea is solid. The current DoD sabbatical program (see the Army Times’ 17 April article for a brief synopsis) has its limits. So far, only the Navy has used it, and it expires in 2015. I like that it limits entrance to the program to 80 members a year, because that might discourage abuse and encourage only those with a real desire to use it. I only found out about such a plan two months ago, which makes me wonder how many others are ignorant of its existence. And I haven’t seen any early assessments of its success. Curious why 2015 is the end-date, too.

What was really interesting, though, was the fifth paragraph in the article, which highlighted that DoD officials were planning to expand the program, which “would give ‘greater flexibility to test and evaluate alternative career retention options in specialties and skills in which monetary incentives alone have not produced required long-term retention results’.”

It’s not about money. You can’t pay most people enough to sacrifice their families, which is how it should be. It’s about attracting and keeping those who want to serve and to continue to serve in some capacity. For the next post, on one hand we have active duty, and on the other we have leaving the service/going on sabbatical. Is there no room for a middle ground? Perhaps there should be.




Posted by Jeannette Haynie in Marine Corps, Navy


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  • Chaps

    I can’t stop thinking that the U.S. armed services have a different reason for existing than providing career paths for those who wish to have it all, their way, at the time of their choosing. All career choices, military or civilian, involve sacrifice of the alternatives. Pick one or pick the other but commit and stay with it. There simply is no room for those who want to dabble for a while then go on sabbatical while skills deteriorate and expect to come back and pick up where they left off.

  • 992v

    I think that was part of the point of the article, sacrifice and alternatives. And how to continue to attract people to the former and not the latter. What the article doesn’t touch on is the lip service paid to “work/life balance” and the reality of both job demands and leadership expectations, realistic or otherwise. This program is hopefully the tip of the iceberg for outside the box thinking at retention. For any loss of proficiency that may occur during that sabbatical, the cost must surely be greater to train their replacement when they pack their bags for good and leave for the private sector.

  • RickWilmes

    Apparently there is a sabbatical program.

    http://m.military.com/news/article/navy-lets-sailors-take-break-from-service.html

    “Barrett said Career Intermission Program will be open to up to 20 officers and 20 enlisted Sailors each year through 2012. If deemed successful, the Navy hopes to extend the program indefinitely.”

    Has the program been successful or discontinued?

  • RickWilmes

    Apparently the sabbatical program has been extended.

    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/tflw/Pages/CIPP.aspx

    Is it successful?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    What we are hard up against is the reality of the contribution of the Navy wife to a man’s career, and the sacrifices required of the member, and the spouse, career wise, for the welfare of the children and the good of the family.

    Both are real, and unique to the individual, and you don’t always get what you want.

    Most women don’t get a Navy wife, although that may be changing.
    Most women don’t want to be a Navy wife, that will stay the same.

    20 leaves of absence per year is just special treatment for a favored few, or a limited option for genuine hardship cases, or more likely, a little of both. I do not see LoA as a universal right for female service members. Still folly persists, in new forms all the time.

    Care to try on a little “the rules apply to everyone, if you can’t live within the rules, seek employment elsewhere”? It used to be the norm.

    Perhaps the goal is treat everyone alike, and everyone special, and make everyone’s hearts’ desires (all of them) come true.

    And everyone lives happily ever after. Presumably amid sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows…

    How do you do that, and have a NAVY? I don’t think you can.

    Perhaps I don’t understand the nature of the business, but my perception is quite the opposite.

    The Corps, being so much more easygoing and gentle, may be able to support these lovely dreams. Motherhood, and self actualization, without compromise, all the time.

    I invite the input of more Marines on this question? Can you have your cake, and eat it too?

  • Rob

    Better to ask, whats in it for the services? Seems to me the kinds of Ops being proposed for the next decade or so, the services in general need more and more people with more mature people skills, empathy skills and communication experience. They will only get these by operating as “citizens” as opposed to being full time operators. The idea of a sabbatical, well its confusing to me. But, if it involved retaining your basic skills and also expanding your tool kit to deal with the demands of less kinetic ops involving locals and security ops, its a win. Keep the program, limit its size, design it to benefit the services and make people apply to it like going to graduate school. Possibly, extend the service commitment on a 1 to 1 basis like a federally funded fellowship program.

  • Derrick

    Doesn’t the US military provide things like child care?

  • Jeannette Haynie

    I do hope this is the tip of the iceberg for out-of-the-box thinking on retention and other matters. Re: sabbaticals–I should hear back from the CIPP office this week, they’ve told me they’ll give me some info on the success of the program thus far (and some more info). Will cover more in future posts.

    Grandpa, while this is a discussion that I–a woman–started, these are issues that affect both men and women. As for the sabbatical being a “universal right” for women, ironically, I heard that the first year it was in place, only men applied. I don’t have that officially, though. Mid-grade retention is a recurring concern, and finding ways to address that problem–ways that make sense for the services–is in the best interest of the services. My point is that we could keep policies the way they are, but we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot (or feet) by limiting the quality of people we attract.

    Akin to stomping our feet (collectively) and shouting “but THIS is the way the game has always been played” and insisting on sticking to rules that don’t work so well.

    I don’t see how a serviceman or woman taking a year or two off for any reason–childbirth, sick family member, extra schooling–is related to lollipops and rainbows, but if it allows the services to retain experienced and quality personnel, why is this offensive?

    But I welcome the dissent, and appreciate that you are reading and commenting. Please keep it up, even if I don’t agree I enjoy the input and a different perspective, as well as your sense of humor. Thank you, and good night, all.

  • RickWilmes

    This might provide some historical perspective on “hardship tours” or “unaccompanied” tours for Marines stationed on Okinawa and a five-year hiatus from the Marine Corp.

    Excerpts taken from “Special Trust” by Robert C. McFarlane and Zofia Smardz.

    “From the start, I learned quickly, adapted without difficulty, regained my footing and found myself once again on the ascendant path I had always previously trod.  I moved from success to success, was assigned to ever more challenging positions, and soon came around to believing that I had made the right choice with the Marines after all.

    It was a belief I held onto when the day finally came that Jonny and I had to be separated.  The “hardship tour” to Okinawa was inevitable, and most of my peers looked forward to joining the real Fleet Marine Force.  Jonny and I had been given five years’ grace with domestic assignments, and I found it hard to leave her(especially as she was expecting a baby) and our three-year-old, Lauren, who had been born at Camp Lejeune in 1961.

    But in April 1964 I went off to join the 3rd Marine Division, as directed, “wherever it may be.”. At Okinawa, I was given command of Battery F, or Fox Battery, Second Battalion, 12th Marines.  We were a 105mm Howitzer battery that was to become known as McFarlane’s Foxes.

    On March 8, 1965, we became the first Marine artillery unit to land in Vietnam.(p. 131-132)”

    “After five years in civilian service, following Ford’s defeat I was reassigned into military uniform and full-time duty with the Marine Corps.  As I left the White House, President Ford awarded me the Distinguished Service Medal, the country’s highest peacetime military decoration, primarily for my work in China.  I was the first lieutenant colonel to receive it.

    The hiatus from the military had been challenging and fulfilling for me, but it was not viewed with such a sanguine eye by my superiors back at headquarters.  In their judgment, I had been away too long from my real job-serving the Corps.  It is fair to say that there isn’t a great demand in the Marine Corps for officers trained in strategic studies.  I respect that.  The Marines focus on their mission-to take and hold the beach-not on forging national policy.

    I spent a year and a half at the National War College writing a book-Crisis Resolution-and getting to know my family again.  Then it came time to ship out to Okinawa for a final tour.

    Okinawa is a post to which Marines are discouraged from bringing their families.  This was not a hard-and-fast rule, but disregarding it was decidedly frowned upon, and the Marine who ignored it could expect to pay a price.  But I felt I had already been away from my family enough during my five years at the White House and determined to have them with me in Japan.  It meant we had to find our own lodgings and life would be lived on a shoestring, but Jonny and I were prepared to put up with that hardship in order to be together.

    Matters quickly got off to an unsatisfactory start with the commanding general.  Soon after arrival, I reported in to Lieutenant General Dolf Schwenk.  It was a Saturday.  He was in his office, dressed in golf shorts, practicing his putting on the rug.  He barely looked up when I came in.

    “You’re McFarlane,” he said.

    “Yes, sir,” I said.

    “You brought your family,” he said.

    “Yes, sir,” I said.

    “Well,” he said, and swung the putter, “no battalion for you.”

    That was all. It struck me as an exceedingly mean-spirited, stupid way to lead, and was the first event that began to persuade me that with this turn of mind, this capacity for professional mismanagement, this Marine Corps was not where I could best serve the country.

    I left as quickly as I could and went down to the 12th Marine Regiment headquarters.  The new commander there was Bob Gibson, an intelligent man, a 1954 Academy graduate, and a good solid artilleryman.  But he, in turn, gave me some stinging news.  He had only two battalions, he said, and he had to give them to men who were going to get passed over for promotion because they needed command to qualify.  “You’re going to get promoted, so I don’t need to worry about you,” he said.

    I was flabbergasted.  I had never heard a more contorted, backward, irresponsible line of reasoning in my life.  What did it say about Gibson that he wanted his troops led by inferior officers?  Actually, he had probably received his orders from General Schwenk.  In any event, it was a clear signal to me that my career in the military was winding down.

    I spent the year in Okinawa as operations officer of the regiment and made the most of it.  I came up with an inventive new concept for running the first live-fire, combined air and ground maneuver operation in the history of the division in Korea.  For more than 30 years, the Marines had trained their infantry in one place and their pilots in another, the two never working together as a team.  Putting them together made an enormous difference in their effectiveness. (p. 166 – 167)”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    You seem convinced that you and those in your situation are worth the extra effort to retain, ahead of those who will not ask for special treatment and dispensation. That view may not be shared by those commanding officers who have to see unit cohesion disrupted, and a trained Officer depart at a critical time. Nor may it be shared by those who stay and man the ramparts while others take their personal time to have it all.

    I would challenge the General’s assumptions and ask for some proof. I have been in this uniform almost as long as the General herself, and don’t recall such a program being publicized, nor exclusively male Officers applying. Even if they did, if the Marine Officer Corps is 90% male, such would not be as disproportionate as you imply.

    You do not welcome dissent, as evidenced by your “foot-stomping” comment. You also refuse to acknowledge Grandpa’s basic point. You want an exception made for you. And then you say it is for the good of the service. You are concerned with SELF and with taking, in a profession that requires selflessness and sacrifice.

    You want education? There is the Advanced Degree Program for those looking to further education. But it is highly competitive and tailored for the needs of the Marine Corps.

    Sick family member? You volunteered to serve, which means being sent away from those you love and whom love you. Parents grow old while you serve. Children grow up. If you didn’t know that when you raised your hand and repeated your commissioning oath, you are a fool.

    Yet, you call for more exceptions to be made for you, because you feel you deserve them, and deserve to be retained, and should be given things others don’t get. And then say it is for the good of the service.

    Some would call that a sense of entitlement.

  • F/A-18 2 C-40

    I don’t think it is fair to attack the Major for proposing that what she seeks as solely selfish. I do believe that she thinks that she is a valuable asset to the USMC. I do know for a fact that I have worked for some terrible commanders that obviously made it to their rank because the quality officers in their peer group left for greener pastures.

    I disagree that this is not about money. It may be true that throwing money at members that are not willing to stay on regular active duty because of home/life commitments will not work, but is there any evidence that anything else will work either? How long will a person need for a sabbatical in order to be ready to return? Do you just need until your baby is 1 or 2 or starts school or graduates elementary school or high school?

    I do not believe that we should keep the system how it is just because it is the way we have always done business. I believe that your ideas and suggestions have been weak and underdeveloped. Very little reality has been taken into account. In a time of extreme fiscal restraint, how would it ever make sense to institute such measures? How does the service account for you while you are gone on your sabbatical? Are you obligated to pay the service a number of years when you get back? Will that include the retraining you will need to be productive at your job? Where is the evidence that a parent that has left the service is a greater thinker, better officer, etc?

    I hope for better editorial oversight on the blog in the future. I imagine that there are some very senior people that take time out of their day to read what is being posted on the USNI blog. Posting unedited wishes and dreams from an un-credentialed peer of mine that does not have even the evidence that her peers or subordinates agree that such a problem even exists seems beneath this blog.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    On the contrary. She is advocating for special/exceptional treatment for certain groups, one or more of which include her interests, while others do not get such treatment.

    As to your comment about better editorial oversight, I strongly disagree. While the Major’s points may not be as strong or developed as you would desire, and while I disagree with them in detail and in premise, this blog is PRECISELY the place for such ideas to be informally vetted and commented upon. She is throwing out ideas to a a peer audience, not writing a service policy white paper for a maximum of two or three sets of eyes.

  • RickWilmes

    If sabbaticals kept the top 1% or 10% of the best of the best in the military, why would that be a bad thing?

    As has been pointed out, better individuals who left for greener pastures were replaced with poorer quality people.

    I tend to think it is in our country’s self-interest and national security to keep the best of the best as long as we can in the military. Will a sabbatical program keep the best of the best?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “As has been pointed out, better individuals who left for greener pastures were replaced with poorer quality people.”

    That is one giant assumption. And it demands proof.

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    My assumption was based on  F/A-18 2 C-40′s comment.

    ” I do know for a fact that I have worked for some terrible commanders that obviously made it to their rank because the quality officers in their peer group left for greener pastures.”

  • JC

    Fascinating post quoting McFarlane’s book. Funny as I have some friends (two brothers) born in Subic Bay and Okinawa in the 70s that are a direct result of turning an unaccompanied tour into an accompanied one on a family’s dime.

    Recognizing that what is good for the individual is not always good for the institution, it is nearly undeniable that the services and our nation have come a long way since the Vietnam era in improving upon quality of life, pay, and benefits for servicemembers — and, to be clear, we still have not arrived. Any time we start patting ourselves on the back and resting on our laurels, we should probably pack it in and find something else to do.

    With that in mind, the goal should be for policy to find the sweet spot, where we can do the right thing without assuming too much risk (readiness, fiscal, political, etc.). Priority #1 is the mission, #2 is taking care of Marines. Every avenue to take towards #2 without risking #1 should be explored, fully, and implemented where possible. This is why we do studies, surveys, pilot programs, etc.

    These things don’t occur in a vacuum and no one that I know possesses a crystal ball and set of chicken bones, so we must continually experiment, modify, and refine to optimize the output from this glorious human organism. There are far too many intangibles that come from taking care of your people that cannot be quantified and fully realized prior to implementation. Taking care of Marines and their families can provide immense benefit; I’m betting that studies may show that satisfied and secure Marines/families serve better, divorce less, eat/live healthier, make recruiting quality personnel easier, and save money in the long term.

  • 992v

    I think that some would argue that for proof one would have to look no farther than the CO/XO/CMC/SEL firings.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    992v,

    You are equating the firings of CO/XO/CMC to inferior quality of officers as a result of not having a sabbatical program?

    I am not sure that quite qualifies as “proof”.

  • 992v

    I’m not sure how knowing your worth to an organization translates to a sense of entitlement. I do know that the talent pool has gotten pretty shallow as of late. And that the job market is not as bad as the media would have you believe, especially for those with highly technical skillsets.

  • 992v

    The firings statement speaks to the people leaving for greener pastures with lesser qualified/suited people taking their place, not the sabbatical program as a whole. If giving a select few people a year or two off with obligated service on the backside keeps the best and brightest around, i fail to see the issue. In the long run, it only helps, right?

  • RickWilmes

    JC,

    I agree, it is a fascinating set of quotes. However, there is also a negative aspect to consider when having military families deployed oversees.

    Jim Webb points this out in “A Time To Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America.”

    “Our military presence in NATO Europe had begun in 1949 as a temporary “surge” in response to an expanded and dangerous Soviet threat.  It was supposed to be reduced once Western Europe again found its feet economically.  Instead, as with so many American military incursions since World War II, it had grown ever larger. By 1984, there were 55,000 more American troops in NATO Europe than there had been at the end of the Vietnam War, some ten years earlier.  Given the economic resurgence of Western Europe, the size of this military presence had also grown less logical.  And in terms of true military strategy, it had become even less justifiable.  American bases in Europe had become full-blown, independent communities, sporting a huge infrastructure of schools, housing, and recreational and medical facilities.  If an invasion were indeed to come, the battlefield plans of our military would become complicated by the logistical and morale problems of having so many American family members in the ‘area of operations’.(p. 129-130)”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Shallow talent pool? Where? My Corps is filled with hard-charging company and field-grade combat Veterans who can look to battle-hardened and proven SNCOs and NCOs to guide and help lead the magnificent young Marines that fill the ranks of our Marine Corps.

    In the long run, giving special treatment and benefits to someone or some group, while not doing so for someone else, and in fact will penalize the unrewarded with extra work and longer hours, will not “help”. If you cannot see that as an issue, there isn’t much to discuss.

  • 992v

    Fleet-wide, the number is minimal. I’m curious to know if you even read the articles or instruction on the sabbatical. The picture is being painted that half the fleet will not only be eligible, but with take the program. It’s 20 Officers and 20 Enlisted. And this isn’t a year off with full pay and benefits. You incur a two to one obligation of service.

    As per OPNAVINST:
    The Navy Career Intermission Pilot Program (CIPP)
    provides a one-time temporary transition from active duty to the
    Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) for Service members to pursue
    personal or professional growth outside the service while
    providing a mechanism for their seamless return to active duty.
    The long term intent of this program is to retain the valuable
    experience and training service members possess that might
    otherwise be lost by permanent separation.

    The author has been unfairly attacked based on the notion that this program is for women only. Which is not the case at all. There is no gender-bias on the surface that I can see. Will it attract more women than men? I don’t know.

    I also was not speaking to the Corps talent pool, which is why I specifically noted CMC/SEL instead of Senior Enlisted. But I would also urge people to think back to all the people that have voluntarily separated and ask the reason why they did.

    Personally I fail to see the downside of this program. Attract and retain quality personnel and avoid costs incurred by training someone else. Sounds win-win to me.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I don’t care if it is for women only. Find me where the work of those 20 Officers and 20 Enlisted doesn’t have to get done, and then maybe we can talk about the program.

    But someone, somewhere, will have to do it. And it won’t be the one on sabbatical. it is win-win because you aren’t doing the extra work. To them, and I have been in their moccasins, it is lose-lose.

  • 992v

    Who does their job when they get out? I guess that if you started reeling back the Individual Augmentees, that might be a good place to start.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    IA is a different discussion entirely, and I believe you know it.

    I don’t have to compete against them for promotion or duty assignments when they get out, nor does anyone else. If they are of such high quality, perhaps they should have the dedication to stay in. That they don’t is perhaps telling, and may mean that they are not occupying the top rung of quality as the discussion here alludes to.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Well, this has certainly generated some good discussion. A few comments:

    –The CIPP details can be accessed via the BUPERS website (google BUPERS and CIPP together). Bottom line: you can’t apply for the program in an operational billet, you have to accept a 2-for-1 payback. The pool of members who will actually be eligible is pretty small. And a 2-for-1 payback will discourage those who might abuse it.

    –There absolutely is a midgrade career retention problem, which is why there are things like aviation incentive pay and similar programs, where the services dole out money trying to keep it at bay. The sabbatical idea seems like a win-win–they pay quite a bit less (1/15 basic pay a month) comparatively speaking to retain talent.

    –As to who does the jobs of the people taking these sabbaticals, I think if you’ve got someone willing to take a 2-for-1 break in service, the next option for them is to probably get out permanently. Taking a 2-for-1 obligation is not something someone with 8-10 years in would be agreeing to lightly, or just because it sounds like a good deal. So they’re likely going to be gone either way. Wouldn’t you rather have them back in 1-3 years than gone permanently?

    And since it’s been brought up a few times, I am not remotely in a position to benefit from any program like this…haven’t been for quite some time now. I left AD 4 years ago, after 10 years in, and am in a reserve job that I like and feel like I can make a difference in. None of what I suggest can benefit me now.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So are we talking about a very small program with very limited applicability? Or are we talking about expanding that program, with modifications, to benefit 44% of our service members?

    Aviation incentive pay is given because of the cost to train, not the importance of service. Don’t confuse the two.

    Would I rather have to compete against someone who took 1-3 years off to do something I won’t get the chance to, while I shouldered the wheel the entire time they were gone? That is much more the question.

    While you may be a Reservist now, your original premise, continued through a number of posts, directly referenced your experiences. Which you used as a basis for positing the question. So, while the proposals you make may not benefit you right now, you belong to a group you have self-identified that would stand to gain the most. While others, who are not part of that demographic, stand to lose.

  • TJ

    I’m a bit torn on this topic because I see some value in the big “D” word, especially seeing oneself reflected competently, no, superbly, not just reflected, in the senior leadership ranks. It is telling that very few women flag officers have children.

    Here I agree with URR on the entitlement view of this issue. Why is it that the military is seen as insufficiently flexible if it maintains the status quo? Why can’t a couple decide that if they CHOOSE to have a child, then perhaps, given the constraints presented to them, they should choose to adjust their lifestyles so that the father can be a stay-at-home dad? There is no doubt that for some segments of the population, both parents need to work to make ends meet, but I’m not so sure this is the case in the officer ranks. If the dad stays home, mom can continue to serve without worry that her child is well cared for.

    I’m not even necessarily against the sabbatical idea. It is probably well worth exploring. “Build a little, test a little, learn a lot” as the good admiral said. I’m just not sure how one identifies success. Is the retained officer/sailor as sharp as he or she would have been with continuous service? How does one measure that? Or is the gender retention number the metric? I have served with superior performing women who I hope the Navy can retain to be competitive for command and beyond. I remain open to being convince by data, which demands we conducts experiments like CIPP. I’d like to see what the methodology is. How does such a program work at selection boards? Will board members be able to ignore clear signs of broken service despite clock reset? Ducks pick ducks right? What steps will be taken for the atrophy of specialized professional knowledge and skills for aviators and nukes? Nevertheless, as good as programs might make us feel, their contribution to warfighting readiness may be illusory. I’ve probably contradicted myself here, but it is a knotty issue.

  • RickWilmes

    Laura Miller @ RAND argues for military sabbaticals.

    http://m.rand.org/commentary/2008/05/07/USAT.html

  • RickWilmes

    Another viewpoint on military sabbaticals.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-leadership/post/what-gen-martin-dempsey-joint-chiefs-of-staff-chairman-thinks-about-leadership/2011/04/01/gIQAFYyt3L_blog.html

    ‘· Military leaders need sabbaticals, too. The armed forces have long been an up-or-out career, driven by a rigorous hierarchy and carefully orchestrated promotions. But Dempsey questions the wisdom of having military officers who have not worked outside the armed forces. Having a “menu of options” for the most senior 40 percent of the armed forces to work outside the military, or even outside of government, would do more than broaden their development as leaders, Dempsey says. It would also help to reinvigorate the passion senior officers feel about their affiliation with the military.

    He talks of his own years outside the Army—he spent two years at Duke and taught at West Point for five years—as an eye-opening time that helped to refuel his career. “I came back a clearer thinker, a better communicator. I came to the conclusion that this career was right for me because I had seen other possibilities; interacted with some of the best and brightest of America; and came to the conclusion that I thought that Army was right for me. I happen to believe that were we to [let officers leave on sabbatical and return to the military], we’d have young men and women in the second decade of their careers apply a different kind of passion to it. I have to figure out how to afford to do it.”’

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Two things, Rick,

    When was the last time Laura Miller at RAND stood a non-sleeping OOD post five times in a month because a special class of officer was exempt from weekend and holiday duty?

    General Dempsey doesn’t have to “afford it”. If the sabbatical ends up being about starting and raising a family, then all those people who are not doing so will be the ones paying for it. To the General’s credit, he is talking about true career-broadening. Not raising children.

    When you give some select people the ability to “have it all” in the military, and deny it to the others who will have to pick up the slack for those who are selected, you have a very large problem.

    Unless you tell me the work those who are chosen would have done goes away, then someone who was NOT chosen will have to do it.

    • FoilHatWearer

      Reading all of the back-and-forth, I agree with your posts more than the others. As an enlisted nuke and single while I was active duty, single guys are last on everybody’s list. The married personnel get Thanksgiving and Christmas off, the single guys never do. We’re the ones standing the shutdown watches in the engine room. That in itself isn’t generally enough to kill morale, make people quit, or whatever. I think guys generally do a good job of bucking up, keeping a good attitude, etc.

      What is harder to swallow is the fact that married guys are using their wives and families as a dodge to get extra time off all the time in-port, not just the holidays. “I have to take my wife to the doctor, my wife’s car is broke on the side of the road, my kid is sick, my kid did something to the water heater and my basement is flooding, etc.” I know it’s hard having a family and being a military guy at the same time, but it’s also hard being a junior enlisted guy who has to suck up that extra work for everybody else. It’s a double-edged sword: I empathize and I want to give a guy a break to be with his young family, but it gets demoralizing when you never get a return on that favor. As a young single guy, command just assumed that I didn’t have personal problems or family problems because I was single. I once came VERY close to going UA when my request for leave was denied when I had a very close friend of the family die and I wanted to attend the funeral while the ship was in-port. I can’t take leave to attend a funeral but my co-worker is taking his kids to the family cabin in West Virginia. That’s a sure-fire to help a guy keep a good attitude.

      Sure, it’s real easy to tell people to suck it up and do the work of those that get to take a couple years off the military because they’re wonderful and special and we don’t want to burn them out. That in itself probably wouldn’t cause people to become demoralized and leave the military. On top of every other burden that the guys on the bottom have to shoulder (since there’s nobody under them to shove the burden onto), it IS a problem. To them, this sabbatical program is another nail in the coffin of the naval careers of young single guys that are already sick of taking the load of other people who just don’t feel like coming to work today.

      How about doing something to relieve the burden of the young single guys instead of dumping yet another workload on them? There’s already too many of them leaving because the military is showing them how little their morale matters. In an effort to boost one person’s career, you’re risking losing multiple people. I seriously question the return on investment here.

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    If the sabbatical program means keeping the best of the best in the military for a longer period of time, than I have no problem having individuals of lesser quality do the work for them in their absence until they return.

    Those stuck doing the work can either suck it up or quit. In the long run, if the sabbatical program keeps the best of the best, our countries defense will be stronger.  Personally, I have no problem treating a small class of individuals who are the best of the best better than the rest.  It is called justice and if it means my country, family and myself’s safety from foreign invasion is that much more secure than I am all for it.

    This may also be of interest.

    http://m.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2005/MR1752.sum.pdf

    Basically, a small select program that focusses on midcareer individuals has a higher ROI.

  • Byron

    URR, don’t forget, when your port and starboard watches, the division has to still be run. Wonder if Ms.Miller ever worked her job getting by on a cummulative 4 hours sleep per day?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Byron, you got that right.

    A 90 hour work week becomes a 115 hour work week, seven days, so that some category of person can be exempt. Yet, we are all the same at FITREP time. It’s just that some get a good deal, and others a raw one.

    For those who say such a “family/sick relative/time off” sabbatical isn’t a problem, the above remains, at some level, the crux of the issue. It IS a problem, and a big one. Just not THEIR problem.

  • F/A-18 2 C-40

    The programs that are referenced in the two articles do not really apply to the discussion here. They are talking about leaving professional military careers to be submersed into other professional fields (academia, business, etc.). The discussion being offered here is about whether I should be able to quit for a while to become a mommy or daddy without having to make my spouse give up their career as well.

    I tend to agree with the argument that you cannot have everything you like in life. There are trade-offs. You can be a good mom, or you can be a career woman. You rarely can do both. If you want to go down the path of mommy working and daddy be the full time parent, I think there is evidence that mothers are better at mothering than fathers, but it is still better to have daddy at home than have your kid be raised by CDC.

    My main argument has been all through these posts that we do not have the money to have the luxury to send mommies and daddies home to be parents for extended amounts of time. We have trained these warriors to be warriors and need the return on investment. Nobody lied to anybody when they got commissioned and told them the military would make exceptions for them to go be good parents. So, every choice has consequences. I still have not been shown any evidence that the military would benefit from letting me go be a dad for 2 years. I might benefit. There may be some marginal gain in my attitude when I come back 2 years later. But, I am not convinced that my loss in skills, training, readiness, etc. would not counter whatever gains my attitude provided.

    But, I suppose we will keep talking about utopian dreams instead of digging into real research to back up any ideas or suggestions of how to solve problems.

  • RickWilmes

    “But, I suppose we will keep talking about utopian dreams instead of digging into real research to back up any ideas or suggestions of how to solve problems.”

    The following paper appears to do some real research into the issue.

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA499117

  • Byron

    Rick, instead of data-dumping docs on us, why not pull the relevant passage from the doc, paste it here and give us the link to read the rest if we choose to do so. That way we don’t waste God knows how much time digging through the doc to find out what you’re actually referring to.

  • RickWilmes

    Byron,

    Several reasons.

    Main Reason: iPhone won’t copy and paste PDF files otherwise I would provide the relevant passages.  Notice when I source a book, I take the time to type out the relevant quotes.  Any other frequent commenter at the USNI blog do what I do ;)

    Target audience: Those individuals with highly developed critical thinking and reading skills can quickly scan the relevant documents and locate the meat and potatoes on their own.  The rest are free to sink and swim on their own individual merit or lack of skill.

    Superficial reason: Been up since 6:30 A.M. PAC Time, wife is at work, dropped five year old off at kindergarden, involved with potty training 2 year old, report to work at 7:00 P.M. for twelve hour shift so too lazy to boot up computer where I have ability to copy and paste.

    Hope this sufficiently answers your question.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I suppose you could call that “research”, but Gerlach’s paper is filled with fallacious assumptions and rather fanciful assertions.

    But at least he is talking about such a program for EVERYONE, at least until he mentions DACOWITS. Then, as per forma, it is “women uber alles”.

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    I am particularly interested in Gerlach’s discussion on third time deployments. Does he make any fallacious assumptions about the negative affects multiple deployments have on retention.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick,

    Gerlach’s discussion is based on a fallacious assumption. The problem with our military and the tight deployments was that we cut our forces far too much during the “Peace Dividend”. What would the extra eight Army brigades and three Marine Regiments have meant to the deployment cycle 2002-2007? (Hint: Everything)

    But the BIG fallacy is that the reason company grade officers leave the service in large numbers is that they think they have had all the fun jobs and have little interest in a series of staff and “B” billet jobs that will provide little reward and even less chance for command. And they are right. Such is the nature of the beast, and no family-starting, education-enhancing sabbatical program will change that dynamic significantly.

    And, if we look at the history of warfare in the last 150 years, it has always been the case.

    But if you are going to use a document and call it “research” be prepared for someone to shoot holes in entities like DACOWITS, whose ultra- feminist partisan slant taints everything it touches.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    That should read “the BIG fallacy is failing to recognize that the reason”…

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    Is this a fallacious assumption?

    “Perhaps the most powerful new element affecting officers’ willingness to stay in the Army is the shifting dynamic of marriage and the roles of men and women in the family. Even in the rather traditional realm of Army culture, fathers now expect to be more actively involved in raising their children, and women tend to be less deferential to their husband’s career. Among baby boomers, officers’ wives were usually homemakers. Today, however, many officers’ wives are doctors or lawyers or have degrees in international affairs, and there are few opportunities for them in places like Kentucky or West Texas. Recently I met a former captain named Adam Ake, who had won a Rhodes scholarship after graduating first in his class from West Point in 1997. He spent seven years as a platoon leader in Korea, and wrote speeches for a three-star general at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Knowing he would be swept up into the Iraq deployment schedule, he reluctantly left active duty in 2004, due to the stress his service was placing on his family and his wife’s career (she is an Army doctor at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda). “Something had to give,” he said. He went to law school, and now clerks for a federal judge in Washington, D.C.”

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2007/0712.tilghman.html

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    “The best of the best” are generally those with intelligence, drive, dedication, years of realistic training, and the most experience in in the most challenging billets.

    When you go on sabbatical you might be one of those, when you come back you won’t.

    Cynic that I am, what is to prevent the selectees from being the most connected?

    Had an XO once, came from multiple staff tours on a Higher than Higher’s staff. He stunk. His fungible skills had funged.

    Sic Semper sailors who stay ashore. Maybe Marines don’t have that problem. But why do they go to the range all the time?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick,

    Yep. It is a fallacious assumption. Been at this for almost 30 years, and have known a great deal of Marines of Company and even Field Grade who have left the Corps. While family concerns undoubtedly weighed into the equation, on the other side of that equation was the rightful perception that the rewards, both personal and professional, would diminish with higher rank and non-command assignments. Warriors want to do warrior things. Sitting at HQMC and administering the MCI program or factoring data in a cubicle isn’t going to be worth the sacrifice.

    The opportunities of command and meaningful leadership decrease exponentially, and nothing any sabbatical program can do will change it. The higher you go, the more you are around people you don’t want to be around, and the less you are around the people you joined to be around.

  • RickWilmes

    @ Grandpa Bluewater

    ‘”The best of the best” are generally those with intelligence, drive, dedication, years of realistic training, and the most experience in in the most challenging billets. When you go on sabbatical you might be one of those, when you come back you won’t.’

    General Grant was out of the military for seven years, the rest is history.

    As pointed out above, when McFarlane returned from a five year absence he developed a new tactic where the air wing and ground forces did live fire training together.  More ideas like that may mean less time for the Marines on the firing range.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick,

    You are attributing Grant’s success to seven years of hard drinking, failed businesses, and running a haberdashery? “Career broadening”?

    IIRC, Lee didn’t take seven years off.

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    Lee also lost. Which raises the point and question under consideration? Were Grants skills as a general diminished by engaging in seven years of drinking and debauchery? Compared to Lee, who didn’t take the time off, were his skills improved and better than Grant’s because he continued to serve?

  • Carrie Howe

    Hi Nettie!

    Great posts–and you bring up so many valid points. I, of course, have an opinion, and I really appreciate your voice.

  • F/A-18 2 C-40

    Rick,
    That paper does not involve any real research into the issue. It is just a paper written with conjecture that forcing officers to leave the service on forced leaves of absence would make for a better officer corps. He does not actually back this up with any research. He floats a theory about a career path that has never existed. He even notes that it would not work for certain fields that involve highly technical knowledge. That will probably take aviators and nukes out of the equation. Do you want to ‘fess up that your job could be done by somebody that could have been away from it for as many as 6+ years (disassociated tour followed by a leave of absence could easily put you in that range). Or do we now need to build in retraining?

    How would this improve retention? The only people this would attract are people that want job and career uncertainty every few years. I do not believe I would find a job that paid me as well as my current officer pay offers if I showed up and asked them to hire me for a couple of years. But, as soon as you train me and get me up to speed, I’m going to ask to leave.

    This would actually work against what the original poster desired. Now, she and her husband are on this crazy hole-ridden military career (not to mention she is a pilot and wouldn’t qualify anyway). Do they want their leaves of absence to be lined up or offsetting? Do they both really want the uncertainty of becoming unemployed at the exact same time as they plan to have a family?

    I do understand that forcing everybody to do the same leaves of absence is the only way to ensure that taking a leave is not viewed in a negative light. It also is the only way that the military can plan ahead for the manning shortfalls that are inherent with the absences. But, it applies a massive sledgehammer to fix a problem that does not seem to be truly affecting the majority of the fleet. Would it really have any retention savings? It seems to me it would likely drive down recruiting. You might retain most of what you recruit, but will you really be able to fill all the seats. You will also need more bodies since at any given time and large percentage of them will not be in the military.

    Still not any valid research to back up this idea. A bunch of articles saying that it has had marginal returns in some private sector jobs. No tie-in to the military. No evidence that we will get more for our limited defense dollars.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Rick, you have got to be kidding. There are so many logical flaws with your argument that it defies analysis in a meaningful way.

  • Sperrwaffe

    Well, I must admit I have been reading the last posts sometimes with amazement and sometimes disbelief about some ways the discussion went.

    Why is that so?
    With the first post Jeannette entered the ring I thought: “Wow, cool, now something to exchange views about and learn something. Maybe also from each other.”
    Thats why I also made my comment from the first place. But the last days I was just sitting and wondering. No chance to skip in or to get into it. Seems that outsiders are currently not welcome in this inner circle, eh? ;)
    Well thank you very much coach. Not this time.

    The way I see it is that you, meine werten Kameraden, are currently swivelling around the pillars of principal dislike and like. A discourse to a certain point but I am missing the “evolution”. There are of course the issues about “fighting teams” and the “rear echelon” basically speaking. For a core “fighting team” it is of course crucial to loose a team member. But this happens all the time. And somehow personnel planning is able to cope with it.
    Just one side of the coin I know, but anyhow.
    What I want to point to, is the fact that a lot of planning can reduce the side effects of: sabbaticals, medical issues, or simply the loss of a team member. Even if this happens without warning.
    Question: What are the planned reserve posts (active billets) normally for? Maybe you can enlarge my insight into these US processes? Can these be integrated into the planning process? I don’t have a clue? I am just asking. I know mine, but not yours.

    Which brings me back to parenthood. Well, how long does it take until the baby is there? 9months of existing planning time. During that time becoming parents change their approach to a lot of stuff. Sabbaticals and other decisions don’t happen from one second to another.

    Life is what happens while you are making plans.

    However, parents make decisions about how to raise their young and how they want to take care about each other also as wife and husband in the future.
    But as a member of the service they have the duty to tell their superiors about their ideas and approaches. In order to enable the superiors to start the planning process. So here we have some give and take I was relating to in my first answer some weeks ago.
    And then again there is the Reserve. In my country the assigned reserver billets often cover a lot of abscences, also from key personnel.
    So again, what happens when your company CO has to go on a 3 months education (parachuting course with German Paratrooper to give a stupid example)? Or what about the postgraduate or war college? Is that time of academical advancing lost? It is a certain way of broaden your skills. So is parenthood, at least for me it is. It is about gaining additional skills, which enhance your professional approach to everything.
    What I mean is that everytime the military is facing absentiisms and othere related personnel problems. But that belongs to daily life. Of course I understand what you URR and Grandpa are telling us. heavy workloads to cope with belonging to the ship. But isn’t most of the daily biased bureaucracy workload a principal problem of the system which has developed over the years? Maybe someone should start there? And not make this a problem of the soldiers who could do more without this bullshit on their backs?
    And on the other hand, just because you have a sabattical program just doesn’t mean that by date X 65% of the people are gone. Just a small percentage will use this opportunity. And when talking about members of the service it will be self confident, self aware and responsible people who will weigh the effects of their absentiism on their team very clearly. And they will take measures against it. Or at least I hope so, otherwise I have to make upe my mind about your services ;)
    And just one more, why must everybode have to make a super special highly sophisticated bullshit career? Everytime I have to think about MIB: “The best, of the best of the best…with honors…he’s just really excited and has no clue why we are here….”

    Well, maybe I am just missing a lot of points, but I wanted to get back to some basic questions which interest me.
    Oh, I almost forgot: Do officers and Chiefs in the US get paid that much that you can afford that one part stays at home? Wow…

    And now something to think about:
    Welcome to my country, where parents have the RIGHT to leave for 12 months, with 60% payment for that period. Either Mother or Father. Another 2 months might be added, if the two combine (first two months Mum then Dad takes over). And then you enter back into your last post. It’s called “Elternzeit” and it’s a Law from Social Security Statutes.
    And all personnel planners must cope with it. Even our military ones learned that one very fast.
    Just as an example to give you something in addittion to chew on.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Sperrwaffe,

    All other things being equal, you may have some workable ideas. However, there are some things that you should know. While you assert that a member of the armed services has a duty to tell their superiors about their ideas and approaches. In the US, it is in fact illegal to ask a female employee or potential employee if she is planning children. In fact, it is highly inadvisable to ask about family at all, for fear of being grounds for a law suit claiming discrimination if a promotion or raise is not forthcoming.

    Also, a 3 month parachute school is not a 3-year sabbatical. It is a course to increase some facet of combat or military skill. Ditto the academic pursuits, which are considered a change in duty station and are not pulled from “fleet” billets except on rare occasions.

    Finally, aside from others who are not getting the “good deal” working extra to fill the gaps of those who do, does the sabbatical make someone a better soldier or warrior? If not, what is the benefit to the service? And why should those who stayed and served, and did the extra work, have to compete with those who didn’t?

    Finally (finally), quoting German social security statutes as having “worked” when making comparisons to our military and shrinking defense budgets may not be a very convincing argument. :) I mean, it is better than Greece, but still.

  • RickWilmes

    URR,

    Am I kidding?  No.

    Logical flaws or contradictions?

    I plead guilty as charged to the latter.

    The questions and comparisons I raise may appear to be logical flaws but so did Socrates’ in Plato’s dialogs.

    Instead of making a broad sweeping generalization, will you specifically identify one of my logical flaws and name it?

  • Sperrwaffe

    URR
    :) :)
    Don’t worry, no comparison meant. Just to give an example what is an solution in other countries. Societies evolve…
    And believe me, we are facing the same fight about budgets. There is another reform of the Bundeswehr which from my point of view will end up in “doing more with less”. Or in other words: “Before the reform 10 people were doing 100 tasks. After the reform it will be 5 people doing 150 tasks.” Just what I meant with the hint to “daily biased bureaucracy workload”.

    I really accept your points. I knew they would come and I had them in my mind while I was writing my monolouge last evening.

    Concerning the “duty” I was referring to an honest exchange between the employer and employee. Might be even easier in the military because you have a certain trust for each other. I know legal issues are a topic and you should not pressure people the lay open their “plans”. And then again, Life is what happens while you are making plans.
    Maybe concerning this exchange there might be more problems with regard to society, legal and other issues. So, employment in the US is a field of distrust, competition and survival of the fittest, eh? :) I will not stop to tease you..;) ;)

    I look at these things a little bit more remote, or from above. Maybe too philisophical, but on the other hand change and development comes not from just saying “No, can’t do that, never have, never will”.

  • Byron

    SWMBO, I think it would be good to have Herr Sperrwaffe write an article ;)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    So now you are on a par with Socrates and Plato?

    I didn’t know. Welcome to the new antiquity, Rick.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Sperwaffe,

    I agree with Byron, write an article!

    The disagreement with the premise is from decades of making similar exceptions for certain self-defining groups, while those not in those groups got stuck with the extra work and longer hours, and still wound up competing on “an even field” for promotion and assignment. It has a certain inevitability to it. If that very issue cannot be addressed adequately up front, the rest matters very little.

    One is not absolutely certain that, if he jumps off a building, he will impact terra firma. But it is a pretty good bet. So when “can’t do that” is offered, the reasons are similar.

  • Sperrwaffe

    URR,

    Thank you for your last post. The middle part of it now makes it a lot more easier for me to understand your point. You are right, that’s the core issue which must be solved. No doubt.

    And thanks to you and Byron for your suggestion. I will have to think about it, while I am in Abu Dhabi for the next two weeks. Should be some time besides the task I have to coordinate to make up my mind about that.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Rick:

    When I start a sentence with the word “generally”, that means there are exceptions to the statement. Citing one exception does not invalidate the point. Do try to learn to think a bit more logically.

    Grant was trained at West Point and experienced due to his participation in the war with Mexico. That put him head and shoulders above the inexperienced volunteers who made up the vast majority of the Union Army at the start of the war.

    He returned as a drill instructor to a volunteer outfit raised from scratch, and worked his way up by sustained superior performance, in instilling discipline in green volunteers, and by superb performance on the field of battle.

    He had previously resigned his commission – as in OUT, permanently gone. The reason he rose to the top is that he won, consistently, while many who stayed when he got out failed the only important test, combat. His genius was his ability to do what was required, NOT rpt NOT, politics.

    See also “If”, by Kipling.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Good discussion, and I’m glad it generated so much interest. The debate could have been refined by a thorough reading of the actual CIPP order, since some of the comments addressed don’t actually apply to the limited program that the Navy is piloting and that I discussed in my post.

    Far from being half-baked, DoD has been commissioning research along these lines from at least 1996, and has also borrowed heavily from the extensive research done in the civilian sector since the late 70s. The Coast Guard also has a sabbatical program, and the Army has similarly been doing some heavy research into options more flexible than the rigid career path currently in place throughout the services. Like it or not, the interest in these options DoD-wide is increasing and practical.

    That being said, if we all agreed, there’d be no need for the USNI blog, so keep it coming.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Jeannette,

    The question then remains. Are we talking about something such as is in the CIPP order, or a program that might be available to the better than two of every five service members?

    I would also caution against “DoD-wide interest” as a measure of the value or negative impact of a program or policy. See: Manning, optimal. Also: Belts, reflective. For additional reading, try: Breathalyzers, workplace.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    DoD-wide interest, research, and pilot programs, and borrowing from civilian studies all show that this entire subject is taken seriously, as it should be, and that alternatives are being tested and measured. Take a look at the civilian sector closely, and into the personnel management policies of the top companies and professions. The trend since the 1970s has been toward more flexible career paths and mid-career alternatives, and while the military is well behind the civilian workforce in exploring these, I’m glad it’s finally happening.

    If the military wants to continue to attract and retain quality people, it needs to think outside the box, especially in light of established demographic trends. Again, I am reminded of a kid stomping his or her foot and shouting that there’s only one way to do things. Why the aversion to change? Not all change is bad, and as someone else posted earlier, anytime we sit back and think that we’ve got it all figured out and are doing the best we can, we should just get out.

    As to your first question above, as I said in my main post, I like the limited aspect of the CIPP for now, at least until we have more info on how it’s working and whether it’s accomplishing what DoD wants it to accomplish. Keep the program restricted and make the payback serious enough so we’ll only attract those who really, really want to make it work. Otherwise we risk abuse. Eventually I think DoD needs to move to a much more flexible way of structuring a career, but not tomorrow. We have to do it right, and do it smart.

    I also don’t think the sabbatical idea is perfect, for a number of reasons that we can get into later if needed. It’s a good option, but there are more out there. For later posts.

    And what, you don’t think those reflective belts look good? Especially on a whole platoon of Marines at once?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Again, I am reminded of a kid stomping his or her foot and shouting that there’s only one way to do things.”

    Again, I am reminded of senior leadership telling me such-and-such is a “good idea” irrespective of the horrendous outcomes, effect on morale, negative impact on mission and capabilities, or the inherent lack of equity of giving some people the good deal while the ones who don’t get it have the extra work to do. Once again, see: Optimal Manning, “do more with less”, deferred maintenance, “super-single” tires, workplace breathalyzers, “Cinderella liberty” during Fleet Week, blueberry suits, the M-16 rifle and M-60E3 machine gun, and the M9 pistol.

    There IS only one way to do things. Fairly. Exceptions made for race, religion, gender, sexual preference, married service members, etc., always ends up being inherently unfair. Going on thirty years of watching the increasing tempo of the Diversity kubuki dance. So pardon my skepticism.

    My question deserves and answer. Simply asserting that such an idea is inherently “good” or that the military needs to mimic civilian employment yet again is not an answer. It is anything but an answer.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Asked and answered, repeatedly, throughout all of my posts.

    Fairness is great. My fair? Or yours? Or the 5,000 versions in between? Neither of us is unbiased in our appraisal of what policies are “fair” to attract and retain the best people, and to form the strongest military we can.

    Even better than fairness, though, is asking how to do the best by and for the services. What will shape the best Marine Corps in coming years, attract more quality people, and enable us to more effectively, efficiently, and thoroughly accomplish the mission?

    If you think the status quo is fair, and if you think the current policies and career paths are the best we can do as a military–both to create the best force for mission accomplishment and to attract and retain the best people–then you need to spend more time talking to junior personnel across the services.

    On your diversity note, the majority of the applicants/selectees for the CIPP have been/are male, and most of those selected have used the break to pursue higher schooling via the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program is for anyone who meets the requirements in the order, and while having a baby is one way to use it, it is not nearly the most common way.

    This horse has left the gate. Next post forthcoming.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Apparently, it is YOUR fair. Which is not surprising.

    The questions I posited have never been addressed, let alone answered.

    Are you talking about a program with a small and competitive population such as the CIPP, or are you talking about expanding such either in concept or in current form to encompass those 44% you referred to? The failure of something very limited will have very limited effects on the services. The failure of something much larger would affect the services proportionately.

    And you managed to breeze by the part about those not selected doing the extra work for those who are, and why they should settle for having to compete with the ones who went and got their education or had their babies, while they were the ones who stayed and served. Marines know life isn’t fair. They get that. But when you institutionalize the unfairness, you damage the fabric of trust that they have in their Corps.

    Speak to more junior Marines? Methinks perhaps the lady should take her own advice. Except wander over to an infantry battalion, or an artillery or tank battalion. Lots of them there.

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