Members of a panel of junior officers at East: Joint Warfighting focused on operating in the new environment and spoke about how the current fiscal constraints are affecting the troops. In some cases, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the overall national economic downturn is posing challenges associated with success. In others, the lack of training funds is putting troops in some very tight spots.
Lt. D.F. Flusche, USCG, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Block Island, explained that one of the Coast Guard junior officers’ biggest challenges right now is keeping troops motivated. Because of an influx in new recruits, a logjam at the middle career range means that younger Coast Guardsmen cannot advance as quickly in their careers.
This situation is likely to continue for some time; however, the Coast Guard is instituting some practices that will help. For example, the job performance and timeliness of advancements of Coast Guardsmen with 20 years in the service is being scrutinized more carefully. If the service record is not exceptional, a Coast Guardsman may be asked to retire at the 20-year mark. In addition, for fiscal year 2014, only 1,000 new recruits will be admitted into the service.
To ensure that Coast Guardsmen just beginning their careers remain motivated, Lt. Flusche recommends keeping the lines of communication open with regards to the ground truth of the possibility of advancing by remaining in the service. For those who would like to stay in, the lieutenant recommends that they increase their proficiency in the service with “total craft knowledge.” This means they should take courses, volunteer for less desirable duties and work on standing out from the pack. “The biggest thing is to tell your people to be patient. The pendulum will swing the other way,” he stated.
Capt. Michael McCrory, USA, commander, HHC, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, is concerned about the lack of training his troops may suffer as a result of budget constraints. He touted the value of total immersion training that enables soldiers preparing for operations in Afghanistan to experience—with cameras tracking their every move—specific missions in a hazardous zone. While learning about areas of operations is good, Capt. McCrory pointed out that being able to view what the troops believed were reasonable actions better prepared them for performing their duties in Afghanistan. He is concerned that a lack of funding will preclude this type of life-saving training.
East: Joint Warfighting 2013 continues tomorrow at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, beginning at 8:30 a.m. with a presentation by Robert O. Work, former undersecretary of the Navy, and current chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security.