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TechNet Asia-Pacific: Military Morale Is High, but Not Firm

November 6, 2008
By Henry Kenyon
Participating in the Senior Enlisted Panel are (l-r) CMSgt. Todd Salzman, USAF, command chief master sergeant, 13th Air Force; FLTCM. (SW/AW) Tom Howard, USN, fleet master chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet; panel moderator CMSgt. James A. Roy, USAF, senior enlisted leader, U.S. Pacific Command; CSM. Joseph Zettlemoyer, USA, command sergeant major, U.S. Army, Pacific; MCPO. Leilani L. Cale-Jones, USCG, command master chief, U.S. Coast Guard District 14; and Sgt. Maj. James Roberts, USMC, sergeant major, Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific.

Military recruitment and retention rates are steadily being met, but cracks are beginning to appear in the personnel infrastructure. A panel of senior enlisted leaders both lauded the quality and motivation of their enlisted personnel and warned against the possibility of losing large numbers of them in the near future.

CMSgt. James A. Roy, USAF, senior enlisted leader in the U.S. Pacific Command, said that the military has not seen a problem in recruiting or retention-yet. "We are seeing signs," he warned, of potential personnel problems. The key is for the services to take care of families because they are stretched "to where we are seeing breakaways, especially in noncommissioned officers."

The military faces the loss of personnel with high-demand, low-density skills, said CSM. Joseph Zettlemoyer, USA, command sergeant major, U.S. Army, Pacific. If those people leave, the Army will be in "a constant state of re-training," he predicted. The Army is in competition with the commercial sector for those skilled personnel.

One solution to help keep those particular personnel is to award bonuses for re-enlistment. FLTCM. (SW/AW) Tom Howard, USN, fleet master chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, noted that bonuses are keyed to high demand in the commercial job market. Even though those bonuses are less than civilian pay, personnel are re-enlisting-even asking for consecutive tours of duty in Iraq, he added.

What are the top complaints among enlisted service personnel? For the Army, it's "Why won't the Army let me wear a Bluetooth?" said CSM. Zettlemoyer. For the U.S. Coast Guard, it's "Why can't I get on Facebook?" said MCPO. Leilani L. Cale-Jones, USCG, the command master chief for U.S. Coast Guard District 14. For the Marines, it's "Why can't I live out of the barracks?" said Sgt. Maj. James Roberts, USMC, sergeant major, Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific.

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