Retaining Good People in the Military Is up to the Leadership

May 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Treating people properly and ensuring that they receive the support that they need may be the key to attracting and retaining good personnel in the military, according to a panel of experts at Joint Warfighting 2012. Addressing the topic of how the services can meet future expectations and challenges, the panelists largely agreed on the measures that are necessary to ensure a satisfied and effective force for the coming times of change. Maj. Christopher Bowers, USA, of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, emphasized that the quality of leadership is a major factor. Telling leaders to "Lead the way you want to be led," he warned against toxic leaders poisoning the atmosphere for personnel. Stating that many great military personnel are in the private sector today because of toxic leaders, he called for 360-degree assessments to flush out those toxic leaders. Lt. Cdr. James Presler, USN, AIRLANT, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said that the military has a lot of smart people looking far ahead for the next conflict. To train forces and build new technologies costs money, but many people want it for free, he allowed, adding "If our leaders say they need it, we should just get it." Capt. Brett Swaim, USMC, Staff Judge Advocate, offered that the issue is quality, not quantity. He stated that the Marines can accomplish more today with less men than it used to take. In the U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. Joseph Thomas Jr., USCG, commanding officer, USCGC Block Island, declared that he is optimistic about the quality of people in the Coast Guard, particularly with regard to their degrees of education. However, he is pessimistic about the assets they will use. Some Coast Guard cutters are about to be eligible for social security, he analogized.

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