There’s a generation gap in our military today. It happens every 20 years or so, of course, as members of younger generations enter the military in greater numbers and older generations retire. Signs include dissonance between the norms and priorities of older, senior leaders and those of younger, junior servicemembers. Today, for example, senior leaders wonder why junior servicemembers are selfish and act entitled, while younger men and women ask why those in leadership positions have lost perspective and don’t understand problems facing younger generations.

Current events and comments support this growing disconnect, as Baby Boomers fill senior leadership positions and retire while Millennials (those born after approximately 1979-1980) flood the lower and middle ranks.

A November 2010 Boston Globe article addressed the generation gap exhibited in both the implementation of DADT and its much-later repeal (1 Nov 2010, “A Generation Gap on ‘Don’t Ask’ Policy,” AP). It’s a quick read, stating what many people currently serving know: to the majority of Generation X and Millennial servicemembers, the sexual preferences of those we serve with just aren’t that big of a deal. And most believed it wouldn’t affect morale or unit readiness negatively. Older servicemembers, however, had/have a harder time with the idea of homosexuals serving in the military. The survey results are posted here.

I saw the generation gap both on active duty and as a reservist. When flying with older pilots, both as a student and later as an instructor, I consistently heard, “Well, I’ve never flown with a woman before.” It happened so often that we would joke about it in the squadron, and I came up with a set of one-liner responses (“Huh, is that right, sir?” gets old). But I never heard it from those my age or younger. Not once. To younger Marines, it didn’t matter. Who cared? They’d worked with women before, and it just wasn’t important. Later, while pregnant for my oldest, I flew regularly, and peers and younger pilots thought that flying with a pregnant pilot was either interesting or a non-event, usually seeing it as a chance to get three people in a Cobra at once and make jokes on flight grading sheets like “both of you are now DACM qualified.” But I never heard it called wrong, disgusting, or unsuitable for military service until I wrote about flying while pregnant on this forum.

Which brings up my next point: the Naval Institute’s efforts to engage and attract junior members. Two weeks ago, USNI sent a letter to members stating that the #1 job this year is to “engage young professionals and groom them to pick up the baton for the next generation.” On the USNI website, under “Where We’re Headed,” Objective #3 states that USNI must “increase, broaden, and engage our membership.” It specifically cites a need to “bring more active duty personnel…into the fold” and that “we must pass down USNI’s historical treasures to the next generation. They must be present for that to happen.” They are spot on, and meeting this objective is key to keeping communication lines open between generations so that we can continue to learn and improve the force. Asking around at work and among Navy/Marine Corps friends, I found that while some were familiar with USNI and its work, the majority were not. Of those that were, they generally considered it either out of touch with current servicemembers or an organization catering to retired personnel.

My point? There is a growing generation gap in the military (and the larger American culture), and we need to address it. It happens about every 20 years and it can be transformative. Baby Boomers caused major changes to how America views its wars, wartime leaders, and politicians, and, with Vietnam burned upon the collective consciousness, they brought about broad policy changes to ensure (as much as possible) that we do not find ourselves committed to another war that we either can’t or won’t win. Two decades later, Generation X began entering the military after being raised by single parents and in dual-income households at a higher rate than previous generations. Having grown up with the Feminist Movement, Generation X women were among the first to serve on combat ships and aircraft, and young men and women of this generation joined a military that largely allowed them to serve together.

Millennials are establishing themselves as the most tolerant generation on record. They are about 50% larger than Generation X, nearly as numerous as Baby Boomers. As a result of the cultural swings of the 80s and 90s, Millennials have different priorities, norms, and work/life expectations than Baby Boomers or even Generation X. Generation X and Millennials grew up in an America where women could fly and serve on nearly any aircraft or ship; where homosexuality was not something to hide or punish; where women began to graduate from college at higher rates than men; where their parents both worked full-time; and where (I’m going to use the “D” word here) diversity among Americans reached new heights.

With a looming budget crisis and after over a decade of conflict, we as a military must not alienate quality members of younger generations. Career paths, retention policies, and combat restrictions that worked 20 years ago may not work well now to attract and keep the best and brightest of younger generations. What constitutes combat has changed, our enemies have changed, and the servicemen and -women who fight our wars have changed. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the changing demographics of the family, especially the military family. The generation gap has forever altered the idea of what a family is and how it works. Considering that family reasons are the top ones given by those leaving the Navy and Marine Corps, it’s something we must pay attention to.

Some last thoughts on the generation gap and our need to ensure the services attract the best women and men 10, 20, 30 years from now:

–We need to keep an open mind when hearing complaints from other generations. It takes courage to speak up, and those doing so often don’t unless they feel it is worth the risk.

–We need to look closely at the demographics and what they tell us. Women comprise more than half of all college graduates. In stark contrast with the white-male majority in the military, the majority of all births in America are now minorities. The family consisting of a male breadwinner with a supportive wife and kids at home is a small and shrinking minority among families, most of which are headed by dual-income couples. Millennials and Generation Xers believe family is more important than work. These trends are also continuing to grow; this isn’t a blip on the social radar.

–As college degrees become more common and earning one means less competitively, more people seek graduate degrees to stand out. The average military career path makes it hard to fit a college or graduate degree in, and while some manage to do it, we need to look at ways to allow continuing education—which should be a priority—for more servicemembers.

–We must continue to monitor the retention numbers and pay close attention to the reasons given by those leaving at the 6-10 year marks; family time and the inability to achieve a balance between a military career and the demands of a family top the list of reasons why people leave the service.

–None of us are unbiased. I am a product of my experiences, as is every one of us, and those experiences are valid and deserve respect. Dismissing ideas from junior servicemembers because they are different is going to hurt us more in the long run. A decade, two decades from now, this military will be led by those midgrade and junior officers and enlisted members, and we need to do the best we can to set them up for success in every form.

Either way, one day the younger generation will have the reins, and we owe it to ourselves and them to get more creative now.

Posted by Jeannette Haynie in Marine Corps, Naval Institute, Navy

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  • alas, in to many instances, the likely and probably proper response to Millennial’s angst should be:
    “as soon as you gain another three decades of “experience”, get back to us”

  • TheMightyQ

    As far as retention goes, I am of the opinion that it is not benefits that younger Sailors and Marines are after, it is challenges. I come at this concept as a SWO, from a community that has had quite public retention problems among its junior members. A few years ago, I went to a presentation at NOB Norfolk (I believe it was called the Task Force Life-Work Roadshow) where several LTs briefed new measures the Navy was considering to boost retention numbers of Surface Line JOs. In the course of this brief, they introduced the concept of sabbaticals, flexible work hours, telecommuting, etc. Once they finished, I commented something to the effect that I did not join the Navy to telecommute, but rather to drink in foreign ports, hook up with exotic women, and put some rounds on target.

    Unsurprisingly, the LTs appeared shocked and horrified, but several dozen other members of the audience went on to issue similar statements to mine over the next 20-30 minutes. That experience, along with discussions over the next few years with my Sailors and my fellow JOs has led me to believe that while there may be a generational gap, and I don’t believe that the military needs to “get creative” about solutions to keep the best people in.

    The primary solution is both very simple and very difficult simultaneously: decentralization of authority. This is simple in concept and difficult in practice, but the difficulty lies mainly in the acceptance of risk by senior officers. The risk of failure of one’s subordinates increases directly with the amount of autonomy one gives them. This may be where the generational gap you wrote about comes into play. The older generation has become too risk averse, while the younger generation is more willing to accept a higher level of risk as part of the job. Perhaps they need a reminder that no one joins the military to be safe.

    As far as USNI goes, I believe that if it is understood by junior Sailors and Marines that USNI is a venue to exchange legitimate ideas about where the services are going, and if it is believed that their voices may actually have an impact, USNI membership will greatly expand. Currently, I don’t think most JOs and enlisted are even aware of USNI, let alone what its mission is.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Mighty Q, well-said. And thus has been mentioned before.

    “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 rather high-hat advice I got was that I needed to go talk to some junior Marines. As if combat arms doesn’t have any.

  • Andy (JADAA)

    So it is and thus it has been. As a JO, we snickered at “clueless” LCDR’s, with their crew-cuts, madras pants and canary-yellow sports jackets, who thought that anything newer in music than early Beatles was despicable trash. Mighty-Q has it spot on: It’s None of the Above. Meaningful time underway or airborne, jobs that we can see really matter count. Yet Big Navy’s answer for every retention issue is “throw more money at it,” as if we did this for monetary or “feel good” reasons. What happens, I wonder, when they leave their time in the Fleet? Somewhere, somehow, many seem to have lost their common sense.

  • Cap.n Bill

    It seems to me that this is a fair effort to show important differences bewteen distinct age groups. I am an aged greybeard who has witnessed the coming and the going of service cohorts since I first read the PROCEEDINGS in 1947. From that vantage point I see much truth written in this commentary, as well as what seems to be a desire to have the Navy set a proper course for the future. Good expression and totally understandable, Well DOne! and Thanks, also.

    But we must understand that it is imperative that today’s upper level leadership understand and buy into the many changes of attitude and expectations that the author calls for. To this end it seems possible that the Naval Institute can have a positive effect in working towards some worthwhile solution. The elders that populate the retired lists of all services can and should validate and support the need for a type of change that promises better use of the younger folk who are entrusted to leaders of all services. It would be quite helpful for the more mature USNI membership to support thes “new” ideas with vigor.

    Thanks for the effort!

  • Rob McFall

    Could not agree with you more. One of the biggest comments that I heard was that the older generations do not think that Junior Officers today want to be a part of the professional conversation. What they don’t understand is that Junior Officers are having their own conversation in forums that the older generation isn’t a part of. Sailorbob, blogs, Facebook, linkedin etc.

    Last week at the Junior Leader Innovation Symposium we saw that the young people today really want to be a part of the conversation and they want to be a part of the solution. They have ideas on how to improve their profession and want their voice to be heard. Over 400 people were a part of the symposium either in person or on line.

    USNI is listening and is trying very hard to provide that outlet and I believe that there are some senior leaders inside and outside the service that are listening now as well. We are slowly creating a bridge that can close the generation gap but it will take work on all sides for that bridge to be effective.

  • JC

    …meanwhile, back in the real world, we’re having to shell out millions in reenlistment bonuses, aviation incentives, sub pay, etc. just to keep enough folks in place through the middle portion of a career. The perceived adventure/challenge aspect of military life is far and away the number one reason that Marines join — yet it is rarely what keeps them in the long term.
    To dismiss a call for avenues toward keeping good people via a greater understanding of our junior members ignores a fundamental aspect of leadership, does it not?
    Then again, if I understand Q correctly, the answers to retention issues are: (1) more port visits, (2) Official Navy subsidization of the sex trade, and (3) an increase in the annual ammunition allotment, (4) Increase risk and supervise less.
    Not buying it.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Sorry, in the military of all places, change for the sake of it, or for “changes of attitude and expectations” is a fool’s errand. The enemy always has a vote. Even if he waits to cast it until the shooting starts.

    Warfare hasn’t changed. Our enemies haven’t changed. The dedication and sacrifice required to be a leader in the profession of arms hasn’t either.

    Support with vigor those ideas that are true to the fundamentals of our profession. Do not disguise those that violate those fundamentals by using terms like “outside the box” and “different priorities, norms, and life experiences”. Because the negative feedback may be delayed, but it is sure to come when those ideas are exposed to the furnace of combat with a resolute and skilled enemy.

    Which, rather than “work-life balance”, is why we exist.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    “Either way, one day the younger generation will have the reins, and we owe it to ourselves and them to get more creative now.”

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
    – Ronald Reagan

    This is as creative as I care to get.

    – Kyon

  • JC

    Love this comment (not really), “Because the negative feedback may be delayed, but it is sure to come when those ideas are exposed to the furnace of combat with a resolute and skilled enemy.”
    If I understand this, you are saying that doing something different IOT encourage young folks to stay in destroys military readiness and will cause the DoD to fail in carrying out the NSS. True, done shoddily, trying to incorporate work-life balance with service could have negative impacts. This is why we rarely do anything without surveying, pilot programs, and a couple of million dollars in CNA studies.
    And, really? Read this from today’s Baltimore Sun (from a Montford Point Marine): “The United States won the war in the Pacific. But Williams, 87, of Randallstown, says an integrated force would have been stronger. “I’ll tell you, a lot of guys paid the price because of segregation,” he said. “The Japanese knew no color, no nothing. They wanted to kill, kill, and that was their focus. But the American concept was Black guys, go here; white guys, over there.” Sounds eerily familiar.
    I get it, some here are products of their generation, but do you have any idea how much talking about the notion of our personnel policies failing in “the furnace of combat” is a joke? This is the same argument that kept a ton of fantastic folks (but just not white) from helping out in a rather large war you may have read about in the 1940s. I think that one poster actually insinuated that future generations would not be free if we actually did some things to consider work-life balance ICW military service.
    Another thing, to suggest that “warfare hasn’t changed” is the height of absurdity. Notice CYBERCOM and STRATCOM? Notice the differences between a Bn Comm Plat from 2003 and one from 2012? Two up, one back, take the high ground, and change your socks still applies, but everything else — EVERYTHING else — is evolving and will continue to do so.
    Here’s what I believe is a more true bottom line: an inclusive force, that represents every corner of our great, free country; where people are proud to serve and where the very best minds are delighted to stay, lead, and innovate, will produce a highly ready force that meets the national security needs of the United States.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Nice strawman on integration.

    “Height of absurdity”? I do believe the soldiers and Marines fighting in Najaf and in Fallujah and Ramadi have much more in common with those who did so at Hue and in Seoul, and in Manila and Naha than any of the “warfare has changed” crowd would dare say.

    CYBERCOM and STRATCOM? We surely have thrown a lot of money at the problem. Let’s wait to see if we get any return on it before we declare it a new fundamental of warfare. Some would say that the consideration of “cyber” as a “domain” shows how badly we understand the entire of the interaction and impact of information networks on decision-making and military function.

    “The very best minds are delighted to stay”? No, I don’t think so. This isn’t the Jet Propulsion Lab or Applied Physics. It is training for and fighting wars. I want heart, in at least equal measure to mind. Courage, steadfastness, and a fierce side which is required at the kill. And a humanity that makes the American serviceman and woman what they have always been.

    I don’t see the generation gap, by the way. Not where it counts. Not at the point of contact. A Lance Corporal in Helmand would relate incredibly well to one in Beirut, or the Plain of Jars, or keeping the enemy out of Pusan, or one clawing through the sweaty jungles of Guam or Okinawa, or at Meuse-Argonne.

    I have interviewed thousands of Marines. I asked every one of them the very same question. “What made you join the Corps?” The overwhelming majority of answers were versions of “To be the best”, or “To be a Marine” or “To serve with the best”, or “To meet the challenge of being a Marine”.

    As to my comment, no, you don’t understand it.

  • BJ Armstrong

    I think that the generational conflicts are a common part of military service. At least naval service, maybe those who serve on the ground are in a specific “furnace” (wink, nudge) that squids don’t understand. Figuring out how to address them seems like it could be important.

    In the 1850’s things got particularly bad, and Jeannette’s connection between the military and society as a whole was reflected then as well. The “Young America” movement pitted the newer, creative, innovative new generation that were generally part of the Democratic party (and the drivers of the manifest destiny movement) against the “old fogies” that were in conservative positions of power. In the USN this was manifested by a movement started by Samuel DuPont (later to become one of our Navy’s first 5 Admirals) to root out the ancient Captains who were stifling promotions and new ideas. He actually got Secretary Dobbins to stand up the “plucking board” to cull through the personnel records and send senior officers off into retirement. This was a HUGE adjustment/challenge to the status quo personnel system, and was unheard of…but helped promote a number of young officers who would become the leadership corps of both the Union and Confederate navies a decade later. (For some more about personnel systems and JO issues see: ).

    In the 1950’s there was a conflict in the Army between young officers who were fresh off combat experience in WWII and Korea and the “over-supervision” that they experienced from their superiors. There was staff bloat, and overbearing seniors, and what today we would call micromanagement. In the October 2011 issue of The Journal of Military History William Donnelly has an article in which he connects those who survived that era (and learned to become officers that over-supervised because the promotion system rewarded it and “it worked” and who worked the bureaucracy to their advantage) as the same officers who served as the senior officers in the opening years of Vietnam who were unable to adapt to the challenges of that war and repeatedly failed to understand tactical and operational challenges.

    Figuring out how to deal with generational conflict seems pretty important. In the past, adjustments to the personnel system has made a difference. Running things with a system that hasn’t really changed since the Naval Personnel Act of 1916 seems a bit silly to me.

    (And URR, at the point of contact pretty much everyone is from the same generational group. From company commander on down, there really isn’t that much of a difference in the age group. I think most of the divide that gets pointed out is between that level and…say, brigade leadership and above?)

  • Chaps

    The problem with ideas like “work-life balance” and statements like “Millennials and Generation Xers believe family is more important than work” is that military service is not “work” in the sense used here. It’s not like going to the office or the store or the factory. Military service entails assuming responsibility for the very life and freedom of the country. It is not “work;” it is a calling. Generation after generation has believed that calling was more important than personal considerations. How can you be willing to give your life for your country’s freedom when you are not willing to give up that Friday afternoon cookout at home. Concepts from civilian work like flex-time, telecommuting, sabbaticals, the mommy track and so on run counter to the commitment required of our nation’s defenders. Serve a hitch and leave; commit to a career; or don’t serve at all: pick one and stay with it. There’s no mix and match.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    While the examples you cite do indeed separate generations, the divide is cultural and not necessarily age-related. In fact, one could point to long periods of peace and then periods of war as having formed those generations, irrespective of the specific duration of each periods.

    No, the generation gap (the “Old Corps” always ended the day before you came in) is not the problem. Peacetime militaries become bureaucratic, because the can, and not pay a high price. Until some supply sergeant is making soldier sign for ammunition while the Zulus are massacring 24th Foot at Isandlwana.

    The younger generation earns the respect of the older one by performing to an established standard. Upholding the good name of the unit. Traditions of things endured and things accomplished, such as regiments had down forever, as it were.

    Those young Marines are magnificent. As good as any who assaulted through objectives with M-1 in hand. Micromanaging, and zero-defects, and stifling of new ideas are not generation-dependent. They are the result of a culture that has lost its focus on what is important. Training to fight and win wars against our nation’s adversaries. That is a lot more important than perceived “generational conflict”.

    When we bend the armed forces to accommodate raising families, sabbaticals, non-military related educational opportunities, and journeys of self-discovery, we are as lost in our focus as are those who think we need Cinderella liberty at fleet week and breathalyzers in the workplace.

    As a LtCol, I walked patrols with PFCs who were not even born when I joined the Corps. And we had a Chief Corpsman who could draw on his IRA without penalty. So your assumption isn’t correct.

  • TheMightyQ

    “Then again, if I understand Q correctly, the answers to retention issues are: (1) more port visits, (2) Official Navy subsidization of the sex trade, and (3) an increase in the annual ammunition allotment, (4) Increase risk and supervise less.
    Not buying it.”

    Unfortunately, I did not make myself understood correctly, apparently. The answer to retention is job satisfaction. As an Ensign, enjoying port visits, women (I don’t know why you assume one has to buy a woman to enjoy her company), more ammunition, and more risk would have provided that. As JC again said, “The perceived adventure/challenge aspect of military life is far and away the number one reason that Marines join,” and Sailors are no different.

    If one wants to keep good people in the service, one must give them job satisfaction. One attains satisfaction from a job when it seems important. If the consequences of failing at a job do not run the risk of failure to the mission as defined then the job is NOT IMPORTANT. Just read Theodore Roosevelt. “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” The people we want to keep in the service are those that agree with this statement. So the question then becomes, how do we make work worth doing?

    The answer lies in decentralization of authority. As ADM Burke said about his time as a young officer, “Going to sea used to be fun and then they gave us radios.” In a sense of extreme (some might say obscene) irony, I found this quote in a talk where it was repeated by ADM Roughhead, who completely misunderstood the point, apparently. ADM Burke liked to go to sea and have the freedom to follow out his orders as he saw fit, without some micromanaging senior calling him to demand status updates. Nothing has changed in that regard, generation gap be damned.

    Again, the answer to retention does not lie in the benefits we can give Sailors and Marines (although they are nice), but rather the challenges we give them, as long as they are given the tools and the authority to act to overcome them.

    But to go back to JC’s first quote in this post, EVERYONE wants #3.

    – Q

  • Jon Paris

    Posts from Ultima and Chaps show the disconnect… this generational gap, so to speak. I’d venture to say Admiral Harvey gets it better than you two do. I know, I know… Damn kids don’t know what’s good for them, right? Wipper-snappers mouthing off at those with experience and sage advice… same stuff, different generation. Well… you must consider your audience. You must consider who you want to be in your military – our military. Young people serving today no doubt share some of your reasons for service – but not all of them. And, job satisfaction may not mean the same thing to us as it does to you. That’s the whole point of this ongoing Junior Leaders/Innovation/etc conversation.

    Q has it right on the money. We may not like to hear that (well, actually I do, so YOU may not like to hear that), but it’s the truth. THIS IS WHAT YOUR JUNIOR LEADERS ARE THINKING RIGHT NOW.

    Chaps – agree with you that military service is not “work” in the traditional sense. Agree that service to our country has to be a committment. That said, today’s junior personnel see ways of striking a balance. They see ways of doing things more efficiently. And they are constantly batted down. “That’s not the way it’s done.” Again, I’m sure that’s a phrase that stands the test of time. We are willing to give up our time and our lives to our country. I’ve been in less than 7 years and spent over half-of that time forward deployed – with half of that time in combat zones. I’ve got combat experience. I’ve seen (young) people die. I’ve lost classmates from college in combat. My generation is giving to our country and our military. And we give plenty of Friday afternoon’s, too… what gets us, and what causes so many people to RUN out the door at the end of obligated service is Friday afternoon’s spent doing mindless nothingness – endless (and MEANINGLESS) RFI’s, check-sheets that never see the light of day, and the rest of the FLUFF that our military decides must take up our time when not in combat. 11 day home-port fast cruises because we can’t plan and don’t hold people accountable. 9-10 month standard length cruises, sometimes twice in a tour. Junior Leaders buy into selfless service, but they want lives, too. And the thing is – we COULD have them along with our military service. It’s the resistance to this that makes people give up.

    Ultima… first off, the younger generation HAS proven itself over 11 years of war – I’d argue that, based on the comments of many senior leaders, our generation has earned the respect of the older one. The frustration from the bottom up is caused by young warfighters who have been out and back to combat living in the world you speak of – one where we’ve lost focus – which is driven by the older generation. We LIKE fighting wars. We WANT to do that job. That’s WHY WE ARE HERE. But, year after year of COMBAT is accented by the never-ending, soul crushing, motivation defeating inflexibility of leadership. We aren’t lost, as you propose, when we reach out to our troops and make service more appealing. We’re lost when we continually beat down our troops’ morale and give them no reason for coming to work in the morning… and sir, the Flag is important, but it’s not the only thing – our troops can go be good Americans on the outside and not feel like they are on the bottom of leaderships’ boot day in and day out.


  • UltimaRatioReg


    Suggest you read my comments again, more carefully. The young “generation” has indeed proven itself. Then, perhaps you can determine whether or not I “get it”. Because it seems you didn’t.

    You will also see here and, if you choose to read, in other post comments, that I agree wholeheartedly with Q in his assertion that the job has to be rewarding. Working hard at an important job is terribly important for someone being asked to make the sacrifices. Some of it can be changed, some of it can’t. It is simply more fun to be a squad leader at 22 than it is to be a Master Sergeant Assistant Ops Chief in charge of training documentation at 33. Ditto that it is more fun to be a Forward Observer or a Battery Commander as an Officer than to be the Special Projects Officer in G-3 Future Ops at II MEF.

    The zero-defect risk-averse leadership “boot” as you call it, is not generational but cultural. And separate from the argument of having the armed forces bend to the life-work balance desires of the individual.

    The former, the culture of micromanagement, is a massive problem that requires some moral courage on the part of very senior leaders to fix.

    The latter is a further civilianizing of the military, and the (false) promise that military service can be like any other job. It cannot.

    No, this is not a “generation gap” problem, and I am not yelling for you kids to get off my lawn. The list of “good ideas” that we think we can import from the civilian sector (whether we even understand them or not) that I have seen become massive distractions, and wastes of time and money, are too long to list here.

    Even if one does not think so in the instance of what Major Haynie has repeatedly proposed, I ask some questions above that deserve answers. They are not generation-dependent.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Actually, there are foolish officers in all grades. Generations have very little to do with it, except that the younger ones don’t understand that things change, but human nature doesn’t.

    Part of the problem is the physiology of aging, which can have profound effects on temperament, and in all too many cases, judgement. For both young, and the allegedly mature. There is also gender’s influence; but that, in turn, is influenced by upbringing (influenced by subculture), and fad and fashion (popular culture’s influence upon the young). So it is probably inevitable, at least routine and unexceptional, that snot nosed recruits, young bucks, and old mossbacks have trouble communicating with each other or understanding each other’priorities.

    The smart, competent ones learn to. The stupid don’t listen and don’t learn, be they 19 year old lance corporals or 69 year old Sec Def (Deaf?)’s.

    The greatest skill an officer needs is the ability to strain out bad language and bad manners, and to mine brilliant innovation and enduring wisdom from annoying sources. One needs it every day, because the cost of learning only from one’s own experience is too high. Life is too short, and failure to learn from every available contact may make it much shorter.

    Interestingly, the opinion of those with 5 years active duty and those with 25 years on the retired list, concerning the powers that be’s foolishness, may overlap, but for very different reasons…

    In any case, don’t complain that it isn’t fair. It is more unfair than those in early or mid career can know, and always has been.

    You see, we recruit from the human race.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    I’m sitting here both laughing and…well, something else. Laughing first:

    Mighty Q, while I don’t agree with everything you wrote, I agree that the risks, challenges, and ability to do amazing things that change day-to-day are what most of us joined for. If we join for less, we get out after the initial commitment. On this forum, that should go without saying. Personally, exotic women don’t do much for me, never have, and it turns out that too much Lebanese whiskey (if that’s really what it was) makes me sick (but Tiger beer doesn’t), but I hear you and agree with the appeal. And if you can get us all more ammunition let me know, even if some of it would get spent on the white rock in the Whiskey impact area. Actually, more of it absolutely should get spent there.

    URR and Chaps, you don’t like the words I use: norms, priorities, work-life balance. You throw them back as obscenities and deride younger folks for looking at the military as work and not understanding the commitment, or for using words that smack of “PC.” Jon is spot on. Don’t talk to me about commitments and dedication as if I don’t get it. It’s an insult, and it’s wrong. We all live it and have lived it, for years now. As a Cobra pilot in the fleet, I did three back-to-back deployments in about 30 months, with some CAXs, MCCREs, and dets to Yuma thrown in while home. I lost close friends and classmates both in the air and on the ground. We all have. Around that, my husband (infantry) deployed as well, with a year in the middle spent in Quantico (while I was in CA). I flew and instructed while pregnant, then flew at the FRS as an instructor while my husband deployed twice to Iraq. Don’t talk to me about not understanding risks and commitments. I watched another Cobra pilot get buried in Arlington last fall doing who was killed doing the same job that I did while single-parenting with a husband in Iraq (and he wasn’t exactly sitting in the A/C if you know what I mean). We all understand risk and commitment too well.

    And when I hit my breaking point on AD, because I felt like I was cheating both the Marines and my daughter every day, well, Chaps, I LEFT. And I am not at all alone here. I left AD and switched to the Reserves, because those were the options available, and I thought the Reserves would at least allow me to continue to serve in some fashion. After the constant deployments and separations, I wanted more, like so many of us do. I love working with Marines, I love being a Marine, and I believe strongly in our purpose. Just. Like. The. Rest. Of. Us. And while I’m forever glad the Reserves exist, and that I’ve been able to serve in them since leaving AD, I have found that they often egregiously underutilize the women and men they have, resulting in fewer challenges and fewer risks. The biggest challenge for me as a Reservist has been to find ways to actually improve the program and contribute in more than superficial ways (much more on this later, I need to do a separate post on it).

    What I didn’t realize when I first left AD was that it wasn’t just me, I’m not just an abberation. That realization grew with time and conversations. Not all of us are men either without kids or with wives at home who are willing or able to sacrifice their own careers and ambitions to follow and raise our kids (and that pool is shrinking, gents). And you simply cannot ignore the demographic numbers. Sure, anyone can mess with stats, but when you read that the Navy’s FY12 recruiting goals include 23% women, and that the older idea of a military family is harder and harder to find/come by, how can you not see that by restricting ourselves to a smaller and smaller slice of Americans we are hurting ourselves?

    There absolutely are billets within the Marine Corps and Navy that cannot be staffed by those who are only there part-time, or whatever, just as there are billets that absolutely are. But none of the pilot programs allow people to leave mid-duty, or take off on a sabbatical, etc., when they are in an operational billet. That’s how it should be. Limit programs and ensure they do not leave open billets. That’s a no-brainer. But why not allow people to cycle in and out of billets as they normally do, with more flexibility in between? Can you telework as CO of a fleet squadron? Um, no. But there are other LtCol billets where you could. Can you go on sabbatical mid-tour as a company commander? Again, um, no. But when you get back from your last deployment there, en route to EWS or recruiting duty, having fully applied for a sabbatical program, why can’t you go get your master’s and then rejoin? Read the program description, it’s pretty well done. It goes without saying that limited numbers managed by manpower is the only way to do this correctly. But to say categorically that there’s no way we can be more flexible is incorrect and not backed up by data or personal experiences.

    This comment has gone on long enough. Don’t take issue with my use of words you don’t trust and throw them back at me to constitute an argument. Or better yet, define PC for me. Define what you dislike about it and we’ll see if what you consider PC is really what’s going on here.

    The good idea fairy visits many people, not just those with thirty years in. And while many of my ideas may or may not ever work or see the light of day, conversations with my peers and younger servicemembers tell me I’m not off-base.

    We can do much, much better than we’re doing now. And people wonder why more ideas don’t get discussed in a forum like this one.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Your words are good enough for your use, they are good enough for me to, as well. Unless you have a different standard you wish to go by. You chose them, you live with them.

    If you expect your ideas to be widely implemented, then you have got to answer those two questions.

    Who does the work for the large numbers of people who are absent from the force structure? Massively increasing the numbers in P2T2 means they are not employed elsewhere.

    For those people who do not have the chance for the “good deal”, why should they compete on a level field when it was they who did the work and made the pump while someone else didn’t?

    Pardon me for seeing this as yet another time where a certain category of people get preferential treatment, on the very large assumption that it is good for the service, while others are left to do the work.

    There are many impostors who pose as the “good idea fairy”. They brought us a varmint round for our service rifles. An explosion of FOGO ranks. TQL. Diversity Directorates and preferential treatment. Optimal Manning. ORM. Workplace breathalyzers. The M9 pistol. USS Gabrielle Giffords. A Littoral Combat Ship that cannot engage in combat in the littorals. DACOWITS. The Blueberry Suit. PTS. Network-Centric Warfare. The list goes on a while.

    Thank you for your resume, by the way. We each have ours.

  • Jeannette Haynie

    “Thank you for your resume, by the way. We each have ours.”

    Um, that’s my point. Not sure why anyone would call the service and commitment of those on this forum into question, seems like a dangerous idea. You questioned my understanding of commitment and military life, and called me selfish. I answered.

    If we’re going to go back and forth, I asked several questions earlier that you didn’t answer, so please do. As to your two, answered before in earlier posts, here you go again:

    What large numbers of people are going to be absent from the force structure? Oh, do you mean the people that are currently getting out because they want to have kids, or get further education, or because their spouse’s career is inflexible or at a critical juncture (which is going to happen at a higher and higher rate)? They are getting out now instead of staying in, so we’re losing ALL of the experience. Instead of losing all of it, though, why not keep some of it, either through improved reserve programs, more flexible career options, or sabbaticals? Or similar ideas?

    And I’ve seen what the Reserves can do–both in combat arms and not–with a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, so with better ideas, just think of the possibilities…and the cost-savings.

    Despite what I’ve consistently asserted, you seem to envision large numbers of people applying for “good deal” breaks and leaving operational units mid-cycle. Not what I’m proposing. And not at all what current programs propose, either. I broke it down in my last comment. While the thesis someone brought up several weeks ago (a CDR–can’t pull his name up this second) talked about force-wide sabbaticals, I have my doubts about that. But I think in the next few decades, if we don’t start looking at alternatives now, we’re going to be MUCH less of a force than we could be.

    As to the “good deal” for a select few, isn’t that the opposite of what you envision with “massively increasing the numbers” like you describe above? And this stuff is neither. Anyone can apply if the career timing is in accordance with the applicable orders. My entire point is that I’m not unique here, not even close, and people like me–male and female–are becoming both more numerous and more vocal. Again, look at the demographics. Of both genders.

    The pilot programs in question are decisively NOT catering to or picking people who simply want to get a “good deal”…the whole point is that these ideas are for anyone who wants to apply.

    As for competing against those who take a sabbatical, or telecommute during a staff job: how so? If you take a year, two years off to have a kid or get a degree, you pick back up with people who were either one or two years behind you. Plus, you owe a two-for-one return, at least for the CIPP. So if you had 10 in before you left for 2, you come back and pick up with those with 10 in. I actually think you’d be at more of a disadvantage re:peer comparison, because you’ve missed out on 2 years and whatever happened in that time. If you were due to rotate to a fleet unit after your current duty station but you were accepted (9-12 months pre-rotation) for the program, then after the sabbatical you will go to the fleet. How is this bad?
    We all know manpower isn’t a zero sum game. That’s why we have pilot programs and the like, so that we can ensure that they have the effect we want and no ill effects we don’t.

    You keep talking about others being “left to do the work,” but isn’t that happening right now with a midgrade retention problem? This should help that rather than hurt it.

    I’m honestly wondering why I’m bothering to respond, except that I know there is a wider audience reading this. Despite attempts to explain my thoughts and cite relevant info, and to describe what members of my generation have identified as an issue, you continue to make it personal and state categorically that I am simply wrong.

    Everything I’ve seen in my time in the Marine Corps tells me differently.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    I challenge your assumptions, and the conclusions you base them on. That it is family and marriage that is the prime driver for mid-term Officer attrition, and that expansion of such a program would either change that attrition or be of benefit to the service.

    “Oh, do you mean the people that are currently getting out because they want to have kids, or get further education, or because their spouse’s career is inflexible or at a critical juncture”

    No. I mean the people who count against the authorized end-strength of the service. Because if they are still somewhere in P2T2, then they count. P2T2 is sometimes managed down to very small numbers. And if you are not talking about expanding this program wide enough to make a difference in retention, then the discussion should end. If you are, you still have that question to answer. You are not going to get an “authorized manning level plus sabbatical” strength. It is a zero sum game, you bet your flight suit. Some unit, somewhere, does without. So you may have seemed as if you answered the question, but you most assuredly did not.

    As for competing for promotion, why should I be rated, with ten years’ service and a fresh set of skills and training, against someone with twelve years’ service and two years out of the game? Which is more valuable to the service at that juncture? Your proposal assumes no difference. I challenge that. Which means I am not saying it is wrong, I am saying you cannot build an entire program with such wide ranging potential impact on the assumption that it is right.

    I didn’t make it personal. I was accused of representing a generational disconnect, as if I am somehow incapable of understanding the service-wide impact of a personnel policy that detracts from the numbers of Officers and Marines that are occupying line numbers in operational units. And incorrectly identifying that the reintegration of those who leave the service for their sabbaticals when the time comes for competition for promotion and assignment, including command, is somewhat problematic, not least of which is in the perception of fairness of opportunity.

    You may argue again your points, and tell me that manpower and authorized manning level is not a zero-sum game, and that the skill sets of the mid-range officer who has not been immersed in his/her service is the same as one who has. I know the first not to be true. And I suspect the second is a lot less true than you would have me believe.

  • LT Jon Paris

    Sir –

    I’m not necessarily all-in on the CIPP. I think it’s a novel idea, and I’m glad folks are thinking outside the box, but I’m wishy-washy about it. I don’t think it is realistic for DoD to both make the program large enough to meet the needs of numerous service members and also meet their end strength requirements. That’s not to say that I think we should get rid of it – it may indeed help some, but I’d like to see other ideas come out. More flexible career options/paths, etc.

    You mention that family and marriage is not the main driver for mid-grade attrition. I’d have to say it’s a big factor (including related factors), but maybe not the main one. So we may agree there. What then, would you say the main factor is? I’m curious what the perspective is of the senior generation. Are we getting out just the same as many before us have? Circle of life and all? Maybe so. Maybe JO angst and attrition is standard, across the board, generation to generation. I’d accept that possibility. But, I also have our perspective. We’ve been at war our entire careers. We’ve made the combat deployments, we’ve been in actual combat, we’ve seen people die (and indeed many of “us” have done the dying), we’ve come back for more… etc, etc. Like you said, we all have our resumes. My point in bringing that up is that that’s why we’re here! That’s what we want to be doing. Traveling the world, being part of a team, defending freedom, and killing bad guys – especially killing bad guys. Yet, some of our best people literally have an application counting down the SECONDS until they can get out. Now, I’ll concede that troops counting down their commitments is nothing new… but why are they doing it now? When they’re getting to travel and kill bad guys? Because we’ve cultivated an environment where job satisfaction – knowing that your job matters – is hard to come by… where leaders care more about data collection than combat proficiency… where we work our guys to the bone in garrison for no unit gain… Military service is more trouble than it is worth to many of our young people. They’re not running away out of fear of death, maiming, or going overseas… they’re running away because they’ve spent 80% of their combat careers answering truly meaningless data calls, being deprived of a human existence, and told to carry on – not because that’s what it’ll take to accomplish the mission (job satisfaction!), but rather, just because – that’s what the endless machine demands. I fully accept that this may be a repeating trend, generation to generation. Maybe you all felt the same way as O3’s. I’d just like to say, though, that when considering junior leaders today, don’t consider them unpatriotic for wanting more from their military… understand that they’re fed up, and see little to no purpose for their (and their troops’) “misery.”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    LT Paris,

    You are closer to the bullseye of the problem. The chickensh*t ratio. Some of it, as I mention above, is inevitable. The higher you go, the less you are around the people you joined to be around and more you are around the people you would rather not be around. The squad leader Sgt is going to have much more fun than the Master Sergeant Ops Chief, with few exceptions, as will the Battery Commander Captain more than the Spec Projects Major on the MEF staff. Nature of the beast.

    The rest of it, however, is cultural. Burdening people with unnecessary crap, reporting requirements, action plans, all the things you guys have to go through in your day-to-day lives because someone is afraid that they will be standing tall if all the meaningless crap isn’t checked off. And when I say above it is going to take the courage of some seniors, I mean just that. Someone willing to say “That crap is of little or no value and I am not going to ask my already over-tasked people to put in the extra work to satisfy some stupid and ill-considered requirement.”

    Then there is the matter of trust, or the perceived (and IMHO very real) lack of it from senior to junior. The same guy who was responsible for 150 Marines in combat, and led them from the front, is knowledgeable and courageous, and tactically proficient, is suddenly a sub-par performer because the Chief of Staff saw one of his Marines running without the magic reflective belt, or one of his Corporals raised a little hell out in town.

    Fix THAT crap, and a big part of your retention problem goes away. There is seldom a reason for the “misery” of the troops, except someone, somewhere, doesn’t do the job they are paid to.

    As for wanting more, what do they want? Because, to give the illusion that one can “have it all” is false. For all the reasons I mentioned. The old recruiting ploy of money for college blew up in the Army’s face in 1990, when the prospect of actual war arose for the first time in twenty years. They found they had a number (larger than they admitted) who had joined for the wrong reasons. Military service will give what it has always given. Asking for more, and worse, expecting it, ignores the basic nature and purpose of the organization. Pull people from units, delay their joining them, keep them away, and someone has to pull the load. Especially at the pointy end.

  • Sperrwaffe

    Again a good discussion.

    URR, Jeanette, LT Paris

    As I said before, you are actually not that far away. And I like what LT Paris is mentioning. Tried to bring that issue up during the last discussions. Thank you for putting a focus on it.
    However, I think we are currently at the point where exchange in a blog will reach its natural limits. No matter how much more we put into the ring. The way I see it is that this should be continued in a open get together.
    Normally I would invite the main protagonists of this discussion to a bbq at our place where we would hit the switch with some good german beer and fill the gaps which written discussions naturally have and sometimes lead to misunderstanding.
    But I have a certain feeling that travel expenditures would clearly kill budgets on that idea..Damned Atlantic Ocean…;)

  • F/A-18 2 C-40

    I still read this line of posting as: There are great companies out there that have figured out that offering flexible schedules and career paths is good for grabbing talent out of the talent pool. They know that normal career paths in the civilian world involve people switching companies and jobs at least 5 times during their normal working career. If only the military jumped on board with this program, we would attract/keep the best and brightest like Google and Apple do.

    As it is being pointed out (well or poorly depending on your perspective), this is not a normal civilian company. In our URL military, we have a lot invested in our people, and we reward those that not only do well but commit to doing it continuously at great sacrifice. We do not have the resources (budgets are still getting smaller no matter how many of these posts you write) to over-man by 20/30/40/50/(?)% to allow for people to take extended leave for their own life desires. Yes, we lose some quality in the mid-career range. But, arguably, if we bring in mostly quality people, we are going to have to lose some. We have to have attrition as members get senior because we do not have as many O-5s as O-2s. Nobody here is owed a job or a career. We will always be controlled by civilians in a government that seems to tend toward a liberal sway, so we will continue to get to deal with being part of a social experiment. Not all of them have been bad. But, unless you convince Congress to change the rules, I will continue to applaud the military brass for making decisions that support readiness with limited resources.

  • Jeannette Haynie


    As I’ve stated throughout, midgrade retention is a problem. Family concerns are a top reason that people leave the services. Education is another one. Demographic changes in America and within the military services mean that women earn more college degrees, enter the workforce at a higher rate, and military families are changing as a result of this dynamic. There is a generation gap on many of these subjects. As a result of generational differences, demographic changes (which is a chicken-or-egg scenario), a decade of conflict, and about 50 other things, the civilian sector has gotten more flexible in how it approaches work/life balance. The military should take some lessons from the civilian world if it wants to stay competitive. We should look at alternatives to the more rigid career path currently used. Contrary to what some say, these alternatives should save us money in the long run and retain personnel.

    I’ve attached a list of readings/research/briefs/what-have-you to back up these assumptions.
    Add to the list my experience and countless conversations.

    If you still find fault with them, I would like to see the research that shows things differently, such as:
    a) The majority of military personnel are satisfied with work/life balance and won’t leave the service due to dissatisfaction with it,
    b) Demographics are not changing, so we will always be able to attract large numbers of high-quality people at the same rate as in past decades,
    c) There is no real generation gap on work/life attitudes,
    d) There are no different priorities between generations,
    e) Family issues are not a top reason for retention problems.

    I agree with F/A-18 on certain points (stop the presses). The military does not and should not mirror the civilian sector. It is a calling, and requires sacrifice, but younger generations have been sacrificing, arguably at greater rates than the immediately older generation did. Sacrifice does not mean there cannot be flexibility built in, and that we cannot do better by our Marines and Sailors. But his assumption that we can always attract high-quality people is the big one I find fault with.

    The assumptions I stated at the top are valid and are based on extended research and discussions. You’re welcome to go through what I’ve attached below. I tried to include a broad range of things. Now, you may find fault or issue with specific programs, such as the CIPP we’ve been talking about. That’s fine, and how it should be. These are still pilot programs, for crying out loud. The Navy hopes it will help retain people and create a better force, but the ink is still drying and “success” won’t be known for some years. They do, however, think from the first few years that it is successful, and have extended it as a result. Let’s discuss the merits of these ideas individually. But attacking the assumptions is a dead end.

    I realize you dislike me for whatever reasons, be it my use of words like “norms” or “priorities” or because I am advocating big changes in how we think as a force (I definitely don’t understand why you associate me with DACOWITS). Set that aside, because it has no business here. This is a professional forum, and we all have served well and gained immeasurable experience doing so. And WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING. We all love what we do, have something in our hearts that makes us want to keep doing it, and want to make sure we create and keep the best Marine Corps and Navy possible. Do you really think I’d be blogging on the USNI website with my real name and rank if I were trying to just get people angry and make myself hated by some? If I wanted to do that I’d go volunteer with those freaks at the Westboro church in KS.

    Here are some citations to start off with, if you want more let me know (ALL: excuse the font changes, etc., trying to do this quickly with school pickup in a few minutes…and I may have missed a few typos):

    Alternate career paths/needs:

    USAWC research: Col Bethea (

    A Review of Millennial Generation Characteristics and MilitaryWorkforce Implications: CNA study May 2008

    LCDR Martins thesis from NWC: “A 21st Century Navy Vision: Motivating Sailors to Achieve
    Optimum Warfighting Readiness”


    CDR Gerlach: “A Comprehensive Officer sabbatical Program: Rethinking the Military Career Path” USAWC 2009

    Rand Study, 2003: “Officer Sabbaticals: Analysis of Extended Leave Options”

    N134 brief

    Retention issues/reasons for leaving:

    USAWC research: Col Bethea (

    N134 brief: “While women report a variety of reasons for leaving the Navy, most indicate they leave due to factors related to their perceived or actual ability to integrate work and life, including the key issue of family planning. For example, in a recent survey of women within the aviation community, more than 70 percent indicated in order to remain competitive within the community, they felt they must place their career ahead of having a family. “ (N134 brief, take a look at slides 8-11)
    “Millennial talent expect to change career fields more than once over the course of the working life and are increasingly interested in achieving a life/work integration allowing them to explore outside interests and/or attend to personal and family needs beyond that of a traditional Navy career path.” And “Over time, the Navy has experienced considerable retention challenges among millennial talent due to a perceived lack of flexibility within a traditional military career path.
    This loss of talent translates not only to a significant loss of training capital, but also a loss of future leadership potential. The Navy, as with all military services, is in the unique position of having to grow senior leadership talent, with very limited opportunities to leverage outside growth opportunities. In response to recruiting and retention challenges, the Navy significantly increased a number of financial retention incentives in 2000/2001; however, the incentives did not have the expected retention impact. In the Navy’s 2005/2006 survey of millennial talent in operational specialties, only 26 percent reported the financial retention incentives played a role in their decision to remain with the organization. The majority noted the negative impact of a Navy career on family or personal growth opportunities played the largest role in their decision to leave the organization and in fact, that same year, some 60 percent of respondents to the pregnancy and parenthood survey indicated that family planning needs strongly influenced their decisions to leave the Navy.”

    Alankaya thesis (Naval Postgraduate school March 2009)

    A Review of Millennial Generation Characteristics and Military Workforce Implications: CNA study May 2008

    LCDR Martins thesis from NWC: “A 21st Century Navy Vision: Motivating Sailors to Achieve
    Optimum Warfighting Readiness”

    Pecenco thesis (NPS March 2005): “The Retention of Female Unrestricted Line Officers”

    Kerwin LeFrere research paper Air Command and Staff College 2001: “An Assessment of U.S. Navy Junior Officer Retention From 1998-2000”,15202,86330,00.html
    LTC Armstrong (McKinsey report 2000): “The family remains one of the top “push” factors for all those choosing to leave. 100 percent of those Captains choosing to leave voiced family issues as one of the top reasons for their choice – ‘Raising a family in the Army is bad, due to OPTEMPO and PERSTEMPO. Too much separation from the family.’”

    Demographics/generation gap:

    USMC demographics 2010:

    Rand study on military spouses/families:

    2010 Military Demographics:

    N134 brief

    Alankaya thesis (Naval Postgraduate school March 2009)

    A Review of Millennial Generation Characteristics and MilitaryWorkforce Implications: CNA study May 2008

    LCDR Martins thesis from NWC: “A 21st Century Navy Vision: Motivating Sailors to Achieve
    Optimum Warfighting Readiness”


    Midgrade retention:

    N134 brief

    LCDR Martins thesis from NWC: “A 21st Century Navy Vision: Motivating Sailors to Achieve
    Optimum Warfighting Readiness”

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Sorry the format is hard to read. Many of these can be found by googling the title, and I’m happy to send out via email as well. I’m not quick on turnaround, though, unless you catch me on the computer.


  • UltimaRatioReg


    You can dispense with the baited trap. I have no like or dislike of you, because that would presume I had enough time and energy to decide one way or the other. Not all criticism is personal criticism.

    As for assumptions, please don’t tell me what mine need to be in order to question yours. Hard as it may be to imagine, there is legitimate grounds for questioning the propriety, relevance, even legitimacy of a using a work entitled “The Retention of Female Unrestricted Line Officers” as research. Were the title different, it could be construed as racist/sexist, and would immediately come under harsh criticism.

    Nobody questioned your facts and figures regarding the numbers of married service members, or those with children. Nor did I question that family considerations were not very high on the list; in fact, I recall having said so.

    I do, however, question whether a sabbatical program that takes from the operating forces in significant numbers will be a relief for PERSTEMPO or OPTEMPO, while maintaining readiness. The Army War College study, the one that lists the family as being most “greedy” on the female spouse, assumes so. I do have the freedom to disagree. A net minus is a net minus, whether you use new math or not.

    I also can question the characterizing of older generations of Marines as vulgar, foul-mouthed, and bloodthirsty, or that they have portrayed themselves as such, and pointing to that as proof of a “generation gap”. (I can also question the judgment of MCAS in publishing such.) Also, the opinions of younger service members on certain issues is not proof of a “generation gap” either, and may be far more attributable to the short perspective of callow youth.

    I also question the assumption that the somewhat lavish and, at times, expensive, accommodations private businesses have made to incentivize worker retention over the last 20+ years may be among the first to go in a more stark and austere business environment, particularly when unemployment is high and it is an employer’s market. Two talented 30-hour a week part-time telecommuters with benefits can turn into one salaried on-site employee having to work 50 hours very quickly. It is already happening in droves.

    Finally, I did not associate you with DACOWITS. But I remember well the terrible damage done by that organization, the injustice and persecution based on gender alone. Patsy Schroeder vowed to “destroy the culture” and nobody in DoD had the spine to do anything but acquiesce to her whims. Another DoD “good idea”. That which you do not forbid, you encourage.

    There is a reason that marriage was called “the curse of the soldier”. It is because the military and family commitments collide more often than they align. It is the nature of the beast. Just how much can be bent or changed to cater to a specific group without adversely affecting the rest is very much in question. Can we do better? Probably. To a point. But to do so much better for some is to do much worse for the rest.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Should read

    “I also question the assumption that the somewhat lavish and, at times, expensive, accommodations private businesses have made to incentivize worker retention over the last 20+ years are permanent. They may be….”

  • Diogenes of NJ


    Speaking of curses, the Hegelian dialectic that this thread has devolved into has given me a headache that I haven’t had since the Navy issued “Z” grams!

    – Kyon

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hegel and Zumwalt? No wonder you have a headache!

  • Diogenes of NJ

    I think it all started with Z-gram 116

    And of course there was Z-gram 57,

    It was suppose to fix the things that the kids today are complaining about – so it looks like computers have changed everything. Arleigh Burke was right about the radios.

    – Kyon

  • Byron

    URR, how about getting off your high horse and apologizing to the lady Marine? She’s working hard at serving her country as a MARINE, just like you, and wants to a part of the Marines, JUST like you. Your tone towards her is insulting to say the least and you dismissed her service to the nation out of hand. Your attitude and manner of speaking that unbefitting an officer and a gentleman.

    You don’t agree with her. I get it. We all get it. You just don’t need to be a horses ass to her. Apologize.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @ Byron

    Do not ask a Marine (any Marine) to abandon his/her post; or to give up that cause to which he/she is committed.

    We will wittiness a battle to the death. May the best Marine win.

    Speaking of “Z” grams, do the still have smokers aboard ship? As I remember things it was one way some things became settled.

    – Kyon

  • UltimaRatioReg


    If there are apologies to be given, do feel free to start.

  • Diogenes of NJ

    … do they still have smokers aboard ship? As I remember it,that was one way some things became settled.

    Sorry for the poor grammar & spelling – I was mentally distracted by an image of URR and Jeannette facing off from opposite corners.

    I for one would consider a sizable contribution to Navy Relief if we could see that on Pay-per-View.

    – Kyon

  • Byron

    Jeannette, I apologize for the churlish and un-gentlemanly way you have been treated by certain respondents on this forum. I can’t honestly say if your point of view is right or wrong, I can say thank you for being a hard charging Marine. You’ve paid your dues to earn the right to be heard; you did not deserve to have your service dismissed out of hand.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Nobody dismissed Major Haynie’s service. Nobody. That you would say so makes one wonder if your reading comprehension is as poor as your manners.

  • Byron

    Pot, meet Kettle

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Byron: This will taper off, there is very little unbroken china left in the shop. The lighting and air conditioning are overtaxed as well.

  • Byron

    Copy that, Grandpa. Next beer is on me!

  • Jeannette Haynie

    Wow, I’m off the net for a day and things get interesting. Byron, thank you sir, but no apology necessary (a very nice gesture though). Not sure how I feel about PPV but it probably beats a beer summit…

  • Diogenes of NJ

    @ Grandpa Bluewater –

    I haven’t been to a good smoker since 1972. The way I remember it, they went ahead and tied a “Beer Barge” along side and a good time was had by all.

    One of my favorite “Z” grams was #35. That one got us beer vending machines in the barracks. Nothing beats watching the Marines and the SPs go at in a bar. There was this time in Naples…..

    – Kyon

  • Mike M.

    If a miserable DON Civil Servant may insert his tuppence…

    The petty problems and indignities start to add up. Wrestling with NMCI every day. Taking two hours to fight DTS to get a set of orders that once took fifteen minutes. The incessant demands to watch this or that annual replay of the same inane administrative training…and make sure to send in your certificate!

    It adds up.

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    I had a little twitch in my neck when you used the words “dislike me” in one of your replies. Major, In reading many of the posts and replies in this discussion, I did not really detect any obvious personal disdain for you or your writing. Disagreement-definitely, perhaps even resentment, but not dislike for you. As you indicated, USNI is a PROFESSIONAL organization. All works and literature in it’s journals should be researched and completed as such. I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire exercise and learned a lot from it. I believe the purpose of a Blog(Web Log) is to stimulate free thought and discussion about any relevant, interesting and appropriate topic. This discussion, in my opinion, has adhered to that purpose.

    The best of luck,Major Haynie,in your career in or out of the service. Not having met you, I believe you are “one of the best we’ve got.”

  • Steven M Mondul

    This crusty former (well, you’re never really FORMER) SWO says that if you can do the job the service should let you do it regardless of plumbing details. That does mean really be able to do the job: e.g. for seagoing sailors carry whatever the equivalent of a P-250 today is up a ladder to fight a fire, ditto a weight equivalent to an unconscious shipmate, for combat infantry: (Unless we have ironclad agreements with all enemies to only pair with equivalents) be able to defeat an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, ditto carry a standard combat load up and down hills for several miles ditto mortar and MG team load requirements. If you can’t do these things then you get restricted to the career areas you are capable of performing acceptably in. If that means it restricts your promotion prospects–so be it. CAPT Mongo

  • Diogenes of NJ

    It appears to Diogenes that CAPT Mongo may be among those who remember smokers as well.

    – Kyon

  • Steven M Mondul

    @Diogenes: Indeed I do, and was even in few as a participant. Usually lost the bout, but that, as you know, wasn’t really the point of the whole thing anyway.

    -CAPT Mongo

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Diogenes and Mongo,

    Being doctors and corpsmen, we didn’t tolerate smoking much in our unit, but we certainly participated in extended “Drinkers” on a number of occasions. One great advantage was getting to know the local Budweiser Distributor. Several times, he admitted all of us to his plant and gave us free access to the product. Only thing we had to do in return was tour the facility. On 2-week Acdutra, on my order, all officers(2 docs and an MSC) were required to supply all the alcohol for the duration. With 4 stripes, I always chipped in the most but it was a small price to pay for the great times and camaraderie we had. My corpsmen always came up with the best location for the parties,etc. I don’t know if all this helped with reruitment, but I do think it helped with retention.


  • Diogenes of NJ

    God bless you doc – that was a mighty fine story. The MC has always been known to play as hard as they worked, and when it comes to working hard there are few who can beat you at that.

    So either because you’ve been preoccupied by work and didn’t get out much, or because of the “Military Generation Gap” effect, I’d like to break it to you as gently as possible: Smoking is NOT the object of a smoker (see the link below) –

    I’m sure that after a few spills onto that non-skid, both of those gentlemen were in need of medical services.

    I think that this goes to prove that it’s not your father’s Navy anymore. I hope that the “Global Force for Good” thing works out for you. Diogenes will keep a particularly warm place in hell ready for all of the enemies of our Nation you care to send down there. Don’t disappoint me.

    – Kyon

  • Diogenes of NJ

    Doc –

    The closing comment above was meant to be addressed to the rest of the Navy. I’d like to clear that up before you return fire. I know that sending the enemy to hell isn’t your side of the business. In fact once URR has incapacitated the enemy, he’d probably have to fight you off as you attempt to treat them.

    We are indeed fortunate to live in a country that has sufficient excess capacity to able to treat our own and the enemy too. But then again, this nation has been doing that for as long as Diogenes has been alive and even before.

    – Kyon

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)


    Yeah, man, I was just using that as a metaphor, “Drinkers” vs “Smokers.” I attended Fraternity Smokers in college and medical school. The only females present were “entertainers” and “escorts.” My only sea time was on a Polaris submarine, 3 patrols in the Atlantic. On the first one, I went through the traditional “BLUE NOSE” ceremony/initiation and got my butt beat pretty good when we crossed the Arctic Circle. You protected your card with your life. King Neptune, usually the Chief of the Boat, took command and directed all activities until the celebration ended. He was accompanied by the “Royal Baby,” the fattest seamen aboard. All initiates were required to kiss his stomach. During this,someone shaved off half my mustache.

    Yeah, we had to treat everybody, friend or foe. I just hoped that all the foes were already in hell so I didn’t have to fool with them. What I really wanted to do on that sub was launch a Mark-37 Torpedo and blow a bunch of cold “Northern Europeans” to hell.

    Dive and Drive,


  • Diogenes of NJ

    Doc –

    It’s high time that the Submarine Force raised the level of discourse on this blog. Not to get off of the topic, but with regard to the whole idea of a “Military Generation Gap”, you might find the closing statement of my last comment on the “Diversity Is Currently Dead” thread particularly interesting if you were there in ’73. It probably applies to what this thread might be about as well.

    I guess that the boomers all have Mk-48’s by now. One hell of a fish by comparison to the 37’s.

    Semper Procinctum.

    – Kyon

  • Jeannette Haynie

    For anyone still reading, looks like I wrote my post about 10 days too soon. Great article, goes along with what I’m trying to say. And no, it would not always work for all MOSs, all the time, but it discusses a rethinking of the way our country works that is needed.

  • Capt. HW “Woody” Sanford,MC,USNR(ret.)

    Thanks, Diogenes,

    My service was on USS James Madison, SSBN-627(BLUE). The 3 patrols were between Jan.1967–Aug.1968,2 from Rota, 1 from Charleston. The good ‘ol Cold War was pretty hot then. I obtained Qualified Submarine Medical Officer(Medical Dolphins)and Qualified Diving Officer of the Watch. Diving while on alert(3 knts)was not very exciting, except on trips up to 60ft in the North Atlantic in winter. Yeah, the Broach Monster got me a couple of times like everybody else. It was only BAD when you couldn’t get back under and contacts were around. Then when you did submerge again, the boat dropped like a stone with all the water you had flooded in. The real Fun Time was diving and driving on Sea Trials for the Officers’ qualifying torpedo runs. Thank God I had pretty calm seas the night the Captain kept us at Periscope depth so he could listen to the entire 1967 Army-Navy game on Armed Forces radio. Navy won, so maybe it was worth it. I have some more Sea Stories, but later.

    AH-OOGAH! Dive!

    Woody the Doc