The Greatest Job in the World (and the news): DeMarco Banter

DSC_0221DeM Banter: I honestly believe serving in the US Military is the greatest job and honor in the world. It is indeed a life of service, working with some of the greatest people in the world, serving what is the greatest nation in history. That is why issues like those below just hurt. There are so many that would serve the country with zero pay raise… (it’s just not about that) they would stay on as pilots and aircrew no matter how the flying hour programs were cut…but, wow…how much more can we ask? Between the wars, the deployments, the cuts in funding, the internal bickering on the Hill… where will we be in 2023? What will the next decade bring? When we look strategically at our lack of National Security Strategy, the rise of nations less than friendly to the US, cuts in defense, increase in attacks by terrorist groups all over the world to include in the US…the posturing of rouge nations…the trend lines appear to be going in the wrong direction without many solutions on the white board.

…. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. -Luke 12:48

It’s simply a matter of priorities and vision… what do we want for America?  God bless those who serve in all venues…and God bless America
USA Today
April 25, 2013
Pg. 1

Budget Cuts Biting
Military pay hikes would be lowest in 50 years

timthumb.phpBy Gregg Zoroya, USA Today
Military families and their advocates are battling an Obama administration proposal to limit troops’ pay raises to 1% in 2014, the lowest increase in half a century.

The raise comes at a time when forces will still be fighting in Afghanistan.

“We’re sending the wrong message to the ones who have worked the hardest in our country by the multiple deployments and family separations,” says Michael Hayden, deputy director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, no relation to Michael Hayden, said Obama is committed to “a sacred trust” with military members, but needed to reduce the pay raise, partly to offset congressional refusal to cut spending on “outdated weapons system.”

Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman, called the limit on pay increases a “tough decision.” She said the Defense Department must pay for proper training and support, and “fair compensation that recognizes the sacrifices they (troops) make for our country … while adhering to the budget constraints it is facing.”

Pentagon officials briefing military family representatives framed the 1% increase as a trade-off — “They believe servicemembers and families would be willing to give something on the size of pay raises to ensure funding for the mission,” the National Military Family Association explained to members on its website.

This triggered angry questions from spouses, who asked whether this wasn’t a false choice.

“We understand that funding training and readiness are vital to the servicemember and the Department of Defense, but why should something this important be an either/or?” says Joyce Raezer, executive director of the association.

Pentagon records show that a 1% increase would be the lowest since 1963, when there was no raise followed by a double-digit increase later that year. The second-lowest raise since then was in 2011 at 1.4%.

Military pay increases by law are now linked with private sector growth as reflected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index, an assessment that would call for a 1.8% increase in 2014, which advocates are seeking.

But the Pentagon is asking Congress to limit it to 1% and save $540 million. The Defense Department is also seeking to raise or establish certain fees in health coverage for retirees and military dependents, a savings of $1 billion.

Doubts were also raised by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., head of the Senate Armed Service Committee sub-panel that will examine the issue. “There are a lot of ways the federal government can cut costs and save money, but targeting salaries and benefits for our troops and civilian personnel should not be one of them,” she said Wednesday.

Non-military federal workers have seen their pay frozen for three years and Obama exempted troops from the impact of sequestration furloughs.
April 24, 2013

airdrops3Air Force: Crews Of Grounded Combat Air Squadrons Will Lose Currency In 45-60 Days
By Brian Everstine, Staff writer
It will take the Air Force three to six months to recover from the recently announced stand down of combat squadrons, and two years of fully funded operations to return to the readiness level of 2011, officials said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Burton Field, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, told lawmakers the Air Force can return to optimal readiness levels, provided Congress approves the service’s 2014 budget request. Air crews also would need additional flying time, beyond operational commitments, to get caught up, he said.

Earlier this month, the Air Force grounded 17 combat squadrons — four of which are deployed and will continue flying until they return to the U.S. — and reduced the readiness level of several others as a result of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration. The aircraft will be grounded until October unless Congress reaches a deficit-reduction agreement that ends sequestration.

“Thirteen of our fighter and bomber squadrons are not flying,” Field said at a House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing today. “That’s not good. In 45 to 60 days those aircrew and pilots, and navigators and [weapons systems officers] and maintainers will be out of currency. That’s going to be a significant recovery problem. And at six months is something we will have to find out because we haven’t done that before.”

A 30 percent reduction in the budget for flying hours meant a loss of 44,000 flying hours, said Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs. The Air Force had to protect squadrons currently flying combat operations, those ready to deploy, those in South Korea and Japan and those tasked to be ready to deploy if “something happens in the world,” Field said.

“We had enough money left to keep another eight squadrons flying at a reduced rate,” Field said. “That was the end of the money.”

The service will distribute 241,496 flying hours to keep other squadrons in a “tiered readiness,” with some remaining combat ready and others at a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable,” according to documents obtained by Air Force Times.

The cuts affect only targeting combat fighter and bomber squadrons, not training. However, Air Combat Command Gen. Mike Hostage said earlier this month that he has canceled a class at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and will possibly close ranges at bases across the country.

The Air Force’s fiscal 2014 budget request was filed before sequestration went into effect, so the service has not formally asked for additional funding to make up the lost flying hours, Field said.

6 Replies to “The Greatest Job in the World (and the news): DeMarco Banter”

  1. Read both of these articles today… The message is clear… At least to me. Operational readiness, the military “family” and our “global” mission are no longer top priorities. Instead of evolving as an institution and seizing the opportunity to do things differently, the powers that be are now drawing lines in the sand that will demand action. We have had a chance to evolve without provocation but now, that chance has passed us by and we are in a position of forced evolution or mission failure. Trying to keep troops trained when they cannot do their jobs (pilots, maintainers), not giving them a pay raise, all the standard mission requirements still needing to be met with increasingly sparse resources (both monetarily and personnel)… The survivors of the FSBs, multiple RIFs and all this other drama (high ops tempo, political pandering, etc) are going to be charged with keeping the force together.

    There are ways to make this better but we need a cohesive, clear response and I’m moderately excited about this AF Portal mission of “Airmen Powered by Innovation”… Simply because I strongly hope enough people speak loud enough to generate real change in our organization. Some truly great ideas are out there and we are fortunate to have the CSAF we do right now… If anyone can evolve an organization, he’s the guy for the job.

    Fundamentally, you are right though. I would happily do my job w/o a pay raise. I would still deploy and spend time away from my family to make the mission happen but as a leader… As a future commander, when we stand in front of the Airmen we lead and get the tough questions about why is it this way and what will the future look like… That’s where I get nervous. That leads into your last question up there… What will the next decade look like? Will it get better? worse? How do we keep inspiring greatness when our words and actions are rendered moot by lack of vision, lack of leadership, lack of progress at the highest of levels?

    It is an interesting time. Will Bold Leadership prevail or will Status Quo take us further to the brink? I still feel like we are collectively holding our breathe hoping things open up and money starts flowing again… We are going through motions of making small change to compensate for the short-term but… I don’t think that’s enough. Anyways, I’ll stop ranting but thanks for your thoughts because I completely agree and I feel better knowing that someone with your experience is having these thoughts as well…

    1. Great perspective Kevin…You will be one of the leaders that inherit our decisions today…for better or worse…you and your peers will be the ones that will fundamentally change how we do business. Great thoughts and we need to discuss “Airmen Powered by Innovation.”

  2. Great points all, but I am concerned that our “care for people” has become too much of a degrade on mission readiness. Yes, I believe if you take care of the people the mission takes care of itself, but that philosophy also assumes there is enough resources for both…that assumption is changing, and if forced to choose between mission readiness or personnel benefits (pay, tuition assistance, the myriad Airman and family programs, etc.), we as a military must choose Mission. As Gen Welsh has said more than once “No one will care how well we treated our people if we lose the next war.” Our DoD civilians haven’t had a pay raise in three years, and uniformed personnel costs, to include TRICARE, have increased about 80 percent in the last decade…as the total budget pie shrinks and the personnel wedge continues to grow, we are forced to cut readiness and modernization–this is not sound defense policy. These are necessary evils in reaction to a national decision (discussion? debate?–not sure there has ever been a “decision”) to spend our money in other areas…I too am concerned long term–not so much about the care of our uniformed military, but about their ability to continue to salute smartly and keep America safe in the face of emergent threats and shrinking resources.

    1. Tork: As always…thanks for the comment. I think I agree in concept, but perhaps not in execution. We have some tough choices to make as a nation right now, no doubt…but we are an all volunteer force. That comes with a price. Many will serve no matter what, but if we still seek the best and brightest…incentives are important and that must be part of the equation…clearly the choice has been made…but was it a conscious choice? All I know is what I see here… you indeed have a bigger picture. But it seems that the non-decision, decision gets made a great deal–but we have to remember that is still a decision.
      Tricare costs and the like… not sure I buy it…we have been at war for 10+ years…medical care prices will rise…that is the Blood and Treasure of war…and again, part of that decision we made when we decided to engage (and now we complain about the cost of blood and treasure). This is not so much a here and now convo…this is a decade away convo…the choice we make now will echo into our history as we witnessed in the 1970s–we seem to be following the same timeline here….and I am not sure I see Ronald Reagan out there waiting in the wings. Of course…history provides us a greater than 20/20 perspective of that…I’m not sure anyone saw Reagan in the wings in 1975 (yes he ran in ’76, but…). Thought provoking comments Tork…and I know the CSAF is the leader’s leader…and we all rest easy knowing he is at the helm.

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