Fiscal Crisis Threatens Military Recruitment, Retention

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The looming fiscal crisis that threatens to eviscerate defense budgets may be starting to have an effect on the personnel who are on active duty. Some service members are beginning to question what impact the budget cuts will have on their units, and others are concerned that force reductions might affect their own military goals.

A Wednesday panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 on "what will it take to keep the best of the best" related how the uncertainty is beginning to grip the force. Navy leaders cannot address these concerns in large part because they do not know exactly which catastrophic budget scenario will unfold.

Lt. Cmdr. (sel) Andrew B. Koy Sr., USN, deputy executive assistant, commander, Naval Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet, said that the Navy must empower its leadership teams with honest assessments. He related that a 2nd class petty officer already had asked what the continuing resolution would mean for his ship.

That level of awareness among sailors illustrates the concern they have for ramifications from the budget cuts. Lt. Brendan O. Negle, USN, officer, Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization, added that the information is available, so even junior sailors will draw their own conclusions.

Panel moderator Vice Adm. James M. Zortman, USN (Ret.), former commander, Naval Air Forces, noted that this uncertainty comes at a time of significant and unrelated change. He pointed out that, for the first time in U.S. history, the country is coming out of an extended conflict and will be reconstituting the force using volunteers exclusively.

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