As we midshipmen at the Naval Academy prepare to go on spring break, I wonder how much rest and relaxation improves performance.
I know that when we come back from a break, both moral and focus improve throughout the Brigade of Midshipmen. But no operational unit can afford a spring break. Unlike cadets and midshipmen, the sailor or marine who enlisted right out of high school doesn’t have the luxury of knowing they will get a week off every spring. I would imagine that having time to reset after a deployment would improve performance and keep more sailors in the service. But with the Navy constantly trying to do more with less, how do we balance work with rest?
Striking a proper balance keeps people motivated and focused on their jobs- especially important qualities for all military personnel. Time-off gives the sailor time to manage his or her personal life and increases the chance that he or she will re-enlist. However, due to multiple combat deployments, the military divorce rate has steadily increased every year since 2001 and is now above the national divorce rate, according to a Pentagon study. Considering the U.S. military budget is not going to increase 13% like China’s budget did last year, all military branches will have to increase efficiency and put sailors where they are most needed. Yes, military life is inherently tough, but increasing off-time increases the likelihood that good sailors will stay in the service. With more sailors, the burden on each “link in the chain” will decrease.
Increasing efficiency is the goal of every military, political, and business leader. Every unit wants to win the Battle E- note the E for Efficiency. While becoming more efficient sounds good on paper, in reality it’s difficult because it requires changing the “way it’s always been done.” We midshipmen should enjoy spring break, but realize what a sea-change in leave time awaits us in the fleet.