SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC?????
[H.A.S.C. No. 1066]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2000H.R. 1401
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS
TITLE IVPERSONNEL AUTHORIZATIONS
TITLE VMILITARY PERSONNEL POLICY
TITLE VICOMPENSATION AND OTHER PERSONNEL BENEFITS
TITLE VIIHEALTH CARE PROVISIONS
MARCH 4, 1999
PILOT RETENTION-ISSUES AND POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Military Personnel Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Thursday, March 4, 1999.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:18 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Steve Buyer (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. STEVE BUYER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM INDIANA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. The Subcommittee on Military Personnel will come to order. I apologize for the delay.
Today's hearing is the last of three hearings dealing with the retention in the military. Our focus today is the challenge of retaining military pilots.
The exodus of military aviators for the airlines has been a retention issue that has captured most of the press, although I would suggest that enlisted retention may pose the greatest threat to military readiness in the long run in the aviation branch.
However, there is no question that the pilot retention is a serious problem. Pilot retention rates remain low. The services at the moment appears to be incapable of improving them. But we're going to hear from them about their suggestions.
Even though Congress has added more money in recent years to improve bonuses, the response from pilots has showed only marginal improvement. The bottom line is that shortages exist and will get worse before getting better.
Finally, airline hiring projections show no indication of a slow-down in the foreseeable future.
During my study of the issue, I have arrived at several conclusions. No. 1, the government is not going to be able to compete with the airlines on the basis of money for pilot salaries. The airlines will always have an economic basis to out-bid the military.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Number two, we, and by this I mean Congress, DOD [Department of Defense] and the Administration, must understand that pilot retention is not just about money.
Compensation is important and we cannot ignore the necessity of remaining competitive, but pilots are leaving the military for the same varied and complex reasons that other people, both enlisted and officer, are leaving the military in other branches.
That means we must work hard to address all the other intangible reasons why people leave the military, because that will help retain pilots, also.
That is not to say that pilots are not unique in some ways. They are unique and part of our purpose today is to explore some of those areas where we can change the nature of pilot retention more directly.
The options available to us to address pilots' concerns are limited and many of them are difficult and costly. Some are unpopular because they attack aviation culture within the military that commanders are reluctant to change.
Today I hope we can explore options that would improve the quality of life, tighten management of aviation resources, and would also hope we hear about some of the out-of-the-box options that people are talking about.
I do believe that we cannot afford to sit back and wait for the airline hiring cycle to slow down. I believe we should take this problem in our own hands and free the military from the grip of the airlines.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
If Mr. Abercrombie has an opening statement, it will be submitted for the record, and we're going to go right on into testimony. Mr. Jehn, you may go first.
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER JEHN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR NATIONAL SECURITY, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE
Mr. JEHN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure to be here again. I have a written statement that I would like submitted for the record, if you please.
Mr. BUYER. Your written statement will be submitted for the record.
Mr. JEHN. Thank you. All I'll do here is try to briefly summarize it. As you noted, we've been hearing a lot about a retention crisis among pilots. The services, particularly the Navy and the Air Force, cite a shortage of pilots. But that's been true for many of the last 50 years.
As recently as 1991, even though the Air Force earlier, a few years ago, had a surplus, as recently as 1991, the Air Force was reporting a shortage.
So managing the pilot inventory is really a chronic problem and in a year when there hasn't been a surplus, there has often been a substantialwhen there hasn't been a shortage, I should say, there has often been a substantial surplus.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In fact, rarely have the services gotten the balance between supply and demand correct. In fact, I'd say, against the broad sweep of the last 50 years of history of this issue, today's problems seem much less serious and challenging than they might otherwise. But it's still important, I think, to fix the problem and fix it right.
If the services do it wrong, as often has been the case in the past, we'll probably waste resources, budget dollars, but, even more important, trained pilots, and maybe more important, we have to live with the mistakes a long time.
For example, in response to the surpluses a few years ago, the Air Force dramatically reduced the rate at which it was producing new pilots. Those reductions of five, six, four and 3 years ago are contributing to the shortage that the Air Force is citing today.
So this lack of consistent success in the past suggests, as you noted, it's time to start thinking perhaps about some new ideas. At your request, the Congressional Budget Office [CBO], collected a number of ideas from places like CBO, of course, but also the General Accounting Office, Congressional Research Service, the think tanks, academics who have been studying the problem, and the written testimony which I have submitted presents a dozen or more such ideas; steps the services could take that might make managing the inventory more consistently successful.
Here are just a few examples. Today, the services really have only three options, three kinds of things they can do to eliminate the current shortages. First, they can reduce requirements. Second, they can increase production of new pilots, or, third, they can increase the retention of those they have got.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
To reduce requirements, the services might further examine the requirement for pilots in non-flying billets. The number of pilots in both the Navy and the Air Force greatly exceeds the number of flying billets. So it's important, I think, to look at the requirement for pilots in non-flying billets and something that the Air Force, I was pleased to see, has decided to do beginning with a conference just next month.
The most notable example, though, of this might be pilot positions in staff jobs on the aircraft carriers and also staff jobs within the Air Force, and that's exactly what the Air Force is apparently going to be looking at.
As for increasing production, while the Air Force has not increased its pilot training rate as fast as circumstances might seem to have dictated, because, we understand, among other things, apparently there is a shortage of flight instructors. So it might consider using so-called first assignment instructor pilots, pilots that have just themselves completed pilot training. Something the Air Force has done in the past, but is doing in only a limited way today.
It might also consider using some senior officers, colonels or lieutenant colonels as instructors. So those are two ways of increasing production faster than they have so far.
Finally, to increase retention, as you've noted, the services have lots of options that have not been fully or recently explored. These range from striking contractual arrangements with the airlines, to share pilots, in essence, to using warrant officers and former enlisted personnel, once they've been appropriately trained, to establishing career tracks that would use or allow pilots to do more flying and thus exploit the differences we know exist among pilots in terms of their desire for flying during their career.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In particular, the U.S. Air Force might more creatively use aviation continuation pay, the so-called bonuses, use them more aggressively and, as I said, more creatively. They might better target the bonuses to specific communities; that is, transports and tankers versus bombers, versus fighters. Target them, the bonuses, to communities that are suffering more severe shortages, for example.
They might also target them, the pilots, according to the year of commitment, giving, for example, larger bonuses to pilots who are willing to commit to lengthy service earlier, bigger bonuses than those that delay their commitment time.
Last, I have to confess I'm completely puzzled. The services claim we're in the midst of a crisis, but they aren't using the bonus to the maximum the law permits. That is to say, they're not paying bonuses as large as the law permits.
In short, many options are currently available and we've, in the written testimony, tried to outline many of them. But most importantly, I think it's time, as you suggested, time to consider new ideas, including, as you also implicitly suggested, starting to think of pilots as different from other officers. They're not just officers who happen to know how to fly airplanes. They are a different community, subject to different stresses, different pulls from the civilian world and commercial world, and the services, I think, need to accommodate to that in ways that they might not previously have done.
That concludes my comments.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Christopher Jehn can be found in the appendix.]
Mr. BUYER. Thank you. Mr. Gebicke.
STATEMENT OF MARK E. GEBICKE, DIRECTOR, MILITARY OPERATIONS AND CAPABILITIES ISSUES, NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION, U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
Mr. GEBICKE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also have a written statement that we'd like to have submitted for the record, if you will. Thank you. I will also summarize, in a few minutes, that written statement for the subcommittee.
It's clear, as Mr. Jehn stated, that the Air Force and the Navy are reporting shortages, but we're not sure, at this particular point in time, that we know what the exact extent of those shortages are.
In other words, we're not real confident about the numbers that are being reported, specifically in the Army and the Navy. We have more confidence with the Air Force numbers. We say that for two reasons. The information that we have been gathering, at the request of this subcommittee, we found not to be readily available in many cases, and [OSD] Office of the Secretary of Defense officials had admitted to us that this is something that they had not compiled in a way in which we were asking for the information, to include the shortages. So it's something relatively new, I guess.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And finally, in terms of the data reliability, a point that Mr. Jehn stated about the flying and the non-flying positions, we issued a report 2 years ago and we suggested that the services look in detail at their non-flying requirements to determine whether or not they indeed needed pilots in each and every one of those positions.
We also are glad to see that the Air Force, I guess, has begun to do that. The real proof will be, however, when those requirements start to decline, based on the review that is undertaken.
So what the exact requirements are at this point in time we don't know. We do know that all the services are reporting that they are filling all cockpits. So all flying positions are full. The positions that are not being staffed are those requiring pilots currently in non-flying positions.
Now, some of those positions are going unstaffed, some are being staffed by other individuals. So I think there is a real opportunity period here to determine where we do and don't need pilots in non-flying positions.
Now, let's talk a little bit about the shortages that are being reported. The Air Force is in a situation where their problem has not yet peaked. Their shortage is going to peak between the years of 2002 and 2007. And by 2007, they estimate they are going to be short approximately 2,150 pilots or about 16 percent of what they project their requirements to be at that point in time.
The Navy believes that its greatest shortage period is behind them, that it probably existed last fiscal year, in 1998, and that although they'll continue to have shortages in the future, that those shortages will decrease over time.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now, we found, at this point in time, three factors, three converging factors that we think account for the shortages. Past personnel decisions, irritants within the services as perceived by the pilots, and job opportunities on the outside. The last item, job opportunities, is self-evident, so I'm not going to discuss that, but I would like to talk briefly about the other two factors.
It's clear that both the Air Force and the Navy reduced the number of pilot accessions during the draw-down periods and they are paying for that today. The Air Force went from accessing 1,500 pilots down to 500 pilots. The drop in the Navy was not quite as significant, but it is obvious when you look at that.
So we have fewer people moving through the pipeline for the Air Force for about a four or five year period and for the Navy for about a two or three year period.
Secondly, let me talk in a little bit more length about the irritants that the pilots apparently have, based on conversations that we've had with about 120 pilots and surveys that were completed by 230 pilots and navigators, primarily in the Air Force and the Navy.
Four things kept coming up in our conversations and also in their responses to our questionnaire. I'd like to talk about each one of those, because I think they're very important. First was bonuses, second was deployments, third was leadership, and fourth was equipment and spare parts.
Now, bonuses. They all pointed to dissatisfaction with the ACP [Aviator Continuation Pay] bonuses that are paid to pilots between years six and years 14, after they've fulfilled their initial obligation.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Many of the concerns focused on the fact that as they looked beyond year 14, they see a significant pay cut, because that bonus is no longer available to them. In the case of the Air Force, that bonus amounts right now to about $22,000, on average, per year. So it's a significant drop.
So you basically have some more senior pilots who are supervising individuals who earn more than they do.
Second, some of the pilots are earning their wings later in their Air Force careers. A number of pilots were basically what we call ''banked''. They didn't go right into initial pilot training as soon as they joined the Air Force, because at the time, the Air Force believed that it had more pilots than they needed. So they put those people in desk jobs and those people then served desk jobs for three or four years, then they went into pilot training and then possibly advanced training, earned their wings, and then they incur their obligation to serve, which, in the case of the Air Force, would be eight years.
Well, you can see if they don't earn their wings until the fourth year, they have an obligation of eight more years. Then they're at 12 years experience and they only have a couple of years of eligibility remaining for the ACP bonus.
Secondly, at the time that we put a cap onor third, at the time we put a cap on the 14 year ACP bonuses, it was believed, and I think it was happening, that the retirement pool was so great that the majority of those service members would stay to retirement, to 20 years. As we discussed last week in another hearing the subcommittee had, it doesn't appear as if the current retirement system has the strength or the pull at least within this pilot community to keep them all in the military service, to the extent that they have stayed in the past.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Let me turn now to deployments, because this is a huge irritant. We have frequently heard comments about irregular schedules, the frequency of deployments, the length of the deployment, that in many cases, even when they were deployed, they felt that the mission was not one that they would like to be involved in, that they felt that they could, instead of going overseas and sitting for long periods of time, that maybe they could be back here exercising, going through their paces, and, if needed, to get over to a point of conflict within a day or two.
They don't feel that they getting the leadership experience that's required for promotion, and this is an interesting situation because you have some pilots, as Mr. Jehn said, that would like to do nothing but fly. You've got other pilots that are looking beyond their flying days to when they can assume leadership positions.
The fact that at least during this period of shortages, we're keeping people in the cockpit longer, we're extending tours, we're canceling some staff positions and other types of assignments, but those pilots who aspire to move beyond their flying days feel this might be detrimental to their careers in the future.
Another thing concerning deployments had to do with the pace of operations, and this was interesting. Not just during the deployment cycle, but also when they come back to their home base, they felt that when they get back to their home base, their pace of operations is very, very rapid. They're working long hours, as are the maintenance crews and the other individuals who support the aircraft, to take care of those things that they were not able to do while they were in a deployed status.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Third item I'd like to talk about, briefly, is this item of leadership, and this came up very often, and I need to differentiate here between leadership at the next level of command, top military leadership, and civilian leadership in DOD, because at each level, as we ask the questions and we engage the pilots in discussion, the dissatisfaction became greater.
Probably the most pointed comment that we heard over and over again is that we have got to tell the Congress that we can't do more with less. We can do less with less. And this is the theme that came through from the pilots that we talked to.
Equipment and parts shortages. A number of reports from the pilots that they couldn't get the parts when they needed them, that the mission-capable rate for specific aircrafts had declined, that in some cases, cannibalization was becoming the norm and whenever you cannibalize an aircraft, you're basically fixingyou have to fix the same problem twice. So it doubled the work of the crews.
They were very empathetic toward their enlisted men and women who were doing the repair and the maintenance and felt that we needed to do something in that area, as well.
Now, the services are taking some steps. The Air Force has just recently decided to increase their accessions. I mean, they have increased their accessions, the Navy has increased their accessions, and they're planning to bring in as many pilots as the training pipeline in each of those services can handle.
The Air Force has what's called the Phoenix Aviator 20, which is a program that works in tandem with some of the airlines to put people back in the cockpits, in like their last two or three years of service, so that they can move right into a flying position with a commercial airline.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Air Force is talking about going to an expeditionary force. They've made that decision. It's going to be in place in the next year or so, where basically the deployment schedule and cycle will be more predictable. The pilots will actually know what period of time they may be deployed.
The services have, just to summarize, really need to do two things, though. They've got to come up with some better data so we know the magnitude of the shortage and they need to scrub those requirements for non-flying positions.
Some of the out-of-the-box suggestions that I would like to leave you with are, first, I think the Congress has a real opportunity here because at the end of this fiscal year, the ACP bonus expires. Mr. Jehn pointed out that right now the services are not paying the maximum. The Air Force, for instance, the maximum they're paying is $22,000, the legislation provides for $25,000. I'm not sure that needs to be increased legislatively yet, but I do think the period of years for which pilots are eligible for that bonus should be considered to be extended beyond 14 years.
There are a couple other items that we would suggest that we consider. We might consider cross-service training. Possibly the Navy or the Air Force or vice versa might have unused capacity for training that maybe one of the other services could avail themselves of, and maybe there should be some cross-service assignments.
I mean, maybe we have, for instance, more of one type of pilot in the Navy than we do in the Air Force and maybe we could detail to compensate for some of the shortages that we currently have.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Fly only path is a possibility that would satisfy many people. It might keep some people in the service a little bit longer because basically some of them want to do nothing but fly.
And there are some other things that we can talk about, but those are some of the ideas that we had in mind.
I'd be glad to respond to any questions that you or the other members may have at this point in time.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mark E. Gebicke can be found in the appendix.]
Mr. BUYER. Thank you very much. Am I to assume that the comments from both of you, in their generality, are applicable to all the services? Each of you had talked about the Air Force and the Navy, but you didn't mention Army helicopter pilots and Marine Corps aviation.
Mr. GEBICKE. We have looked, Mr. Chairman, at all four services and, quite frankly, the severe shortages are in the Air Force and the Navy. Although the Marine Corps and the Army do have some shortages, they appear to be very manageable. They're in the 1 percent range of shortages. In the Army, it's predominantly in the Apache helicopter community.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BUYER. The Army went to warrant officers flying and basically these arethat's what they want to do, they want to fly. So we have the management of a completely different type of system. Correct?
Mr. GEBICKE. That's true.
Mr. BUYER. So it wouldn't be necessarily fair to compare. What would be some similarities? Here you have a completely different system. Did you see any comparisons in why they're leaving, even when you have two completely different systems? Is the leadership question applicable?
Mr. GEBICKE. I don't know. I can't respond to that.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Jehn.
Mr. JEHN. I think your observation about the Army is correct. They have a very markedly different system and I think a question, though, that I think is better addressed to the service representatives that will be here later is a comparison, for instance, between the Marine Corps, on the one hand, and the Navy and the Air Force on the other hand, where pilots, of course, go through
Mr. BUYER. But you guys didn't look at that one.
Mr. JEHN. We did not look at that, that's right. Not directly.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BUYER. In the thinking outside-the-box, Mr. Jehn, you said yes, we should, but didn't get into any specifics. I want to give you an opportunity to address that.
Mr. JEHN. Well, I just mentioned a few ideas. I think we've mentioned some of them already. I think the Navy and the Air Force have basically one career model, if you will, and this is an example, one career model for pilots and all pilots, for the most part, cycle through in the same fashion, alternating flying assignments with non-flying assignments.
And as Mr. Gebicke has emphasized, many pilots would prefer to do little else but fly, and I think if the services thought about the possibility of having severalI'm not saying all pilots ought to be fly only, but I'm also saying that all pilots shouldn't be going through necessarily the career track that, in essence, prepares them all for senior leadership positions. Some of them don't aspire to those. They'd much rather just be flyers their whole career, 20-year career, and
Mr. BUYER. Please correct me if these assumptions are wrong and the services, please, correct me, too. I have this sense that we went into the draw-down, we drew down the pilots, and, at the same time we drew them down, we had an airline demand, which placed stress on the system, and then we can say, well, then, it was a management problem.
You testified that it's chronic, that they should have seen it coming.
I look at this asI want to be very careful because I don't thoroughly understand the Air Force culture, in a positive sense I use that word. I don't completely understand that. I come from an Army culture.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
When I think of the hospitals, as an example, I think of pilots as a very highly specialized field and even in the hospitals, we may take a doctor and we make him the commander, but your medical service corps actually run the hospitals and they do all the administration.
And combined, also, in this, let me throw another fraction into this equation, is the up-or-out system. So they are also going through the same promotion of up-or-out as everyone else that is trying to force out the 50 percent, whom we have just put a lot of investment in.
But the Air Force is a completely different branch. It would be very difficult to have the general officer corps lead the service of whom weren't pilots. That's the reason the Navy takes a Naval aviator in charge of that aircraft carrier.
So I want to be very careful here and say, well, yes, we can think outside the box, but I don'tI'm just letting you know, I, at this moment, am very cautious.
Mr. JEHN. I think your caution is
Mr. BUYER. But I dopardon?
Mr. JEHN. I was just going to say I think your caution is well merited and wholly appropriate and I think it's also important that, in comments that folks like Mr. Gebicke and I make, we not oversimplify things.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
While I believe there are things the Air Force, for example, and, for that matter, the Navy, could have done in the past to have managed their pilot situation better, I don't want that kind of a comment to mask or hide a reality; namely, that management is challenging and difficult and that it contains a lot more than simply picking a number of pilots we train every year and then kind of watch them migrate or walk through a 20-year career.
But I think it's also important for, to pick up on your point about culture, perhaps, to some degree, culture ought to be changed. And the Air Force has recognized this in adopting the AEF [Air Expeditionary Force] concept, that it may be time to think differently about the way we manage our force structure in order to support the new demands being put on the Air Force.
And all I think Mr. Gebicke and I have been saying is that same creativity ought to be applied to thinking about how we ought to manage pilot careers and the pilot inventory and matching that inventory against requirements.
Mr. BUYER. I will ask this question, also, of the services. I throw it out as an open question, not by any endorsement. But you could have an individual of whom has no interest in command, no interest at all in staff positions or commandI want to fly.
And so they say, you know, make me a 20-year major, I don't care, I want to fly, that's what I love to do, that's what I trained to do, and I'm the best at what I do.
Why do we kick them out?
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GEBICKE. You've got an excellent point.
Mr. BUYER. Why do we do that? So when I talk about the culture of the Air Force, I don't know. I'm going to openly ask that question and you can address that, because it would apply to all the services, and the Army responded to that in going to the warrant officers.
But I am intrigued also by the extending the bonuses past the 14-year mark, bringing in some of the senior leadership. I would think that you'd take a senior colonel or a captain in the Navy and you say, I tell you what, for your last three-year tour, you want to get back in the cockpit? They're going to beam, they're going to be excited about that.
I think they're going to be thrilled, but that's just my interpretation.
Let me now yield to Mr. Abercrombie for any questions he may have.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Gebicke, I want to make sure that I understood your recitation with respect to data and reliability. Is it your testimony that the idea that retention is a serious problem is at least open to some new observations?
Mr. GEBICKE. It would be my testimony that we know
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Excuse me, before you answer, so that you know why I'm asking the question. Some of the assumptions that I had been operating under with respect to promotions, for example, I am now beginning to think, as a result of some of the testimony, some of the discussion I've had, that the draw-down, as a result of the draw-down being over and a steady-state or at least a reasonable expectation of a steady-state in terms of personnel, that maybe the promotion questions can be resolved or we should give them two or three years to see whether they're able to be resolved, before we start legislating and interfering, because we'll have put something on paper legislatively that will actually be worse than the solution.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I'm asking this question on the basis that there is an assumption maybe, oh, well, we're going to lose all our pilots in all these different categories or we're losing too many.
But I was a little disconcerted when you saidwhen you tried to get actualif I understood you correctly, when you tried to get actual data that would support such a conclusion, that that was a little ambiguous, at best.
Mr. GEBICKE. Yes, sir. You're exactly right and that is the thrust of one of the points we wanted to make in our statement today. Particularly with regards to the Navy, we've had difficulty in getting information that we felt comfortable with and the numbers have fluctuated very widely in terms of what the shortages exactly are.
The other thing to keep in mind is we can't really calculate the shortages until we know for sure what the requirements are and none of the services have really reduced their requirements for those non-flying positions, and they total about 20 to 40 percent of all the pilot requirements.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. That's the next thing I was going to ask you about a little bit further. I think this is an important point, Mr. Chairman. I've been a legislator long enough to realize that virtually nobody lies to you, but a lot of people don't necessarily tell you the truth. I really don't mean that pejoratively.
What I mean is it all depends on your premises and it all depends on the context of those premises. So that somebody can be perfectly straightforward with you, but they're notunless you already know ahead of time where you're going and what you're doing, you're not necessarily asking, as a legislator, the right questions.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And in this instance, I was going to raise with you the idea that how many people are actually flying and then how many people are in what could be generally considered support positions and are they differentiated in the various services and are they differentiated by category of flying requirements, and are they interchangeable? Can someone flying a cargo plane, are they likely to be a fighter pilot, or vice versa, or et cetera?
Now, I realize that complicates the equations and because you're dealing with a human dimension here, I think Mr. Jehn mentioned this at one point, you're dealing with various human dimension contexts, too, as to how people get promoted or don't get promoted, how long they stay, how long they're expected to fly, all these categories.
Now, were you able to, in effect, cross reference these kinds of things? In my own experiences in academics, sociologically speaking, and utilizing statistics, if you don't cross reference like that, you find yourself going up a whole lot of blind alleys and making a lot of false conclusions.
Mr. GEBICKE. The short answer to your question isor your series of questions is, no, we were not able to do that. When we looked at the non-flying requirements several years ago, we initially thought to develop a methodology that we would get the position descriptions for a sample of jobs and we'd look at the position descriptions to find out what the requirements exactly were, and we found that position descriptions didn't exist for most of those positions.
But what did exist was a justification as to why a pilot had to fill that position. It didn't talk about whether or not somebody else other than a pilot could fill that position, and there is a big difference, I think.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. JEHN. Mr. Abercrombie, if I could briefly respond. I think your questionin your question, you identified a lot of the complexities that the managers of the pilot inventory face, the fact that all pilots are not the same, that you can't easily move a pilot from a flying position in a bomber to one in a fighter aircraft or even among fighter aircraft, for that matter.
But a direct answer to one of your questions is possible. In preparation for this testimony, we were able to get from Navy and the Air Force the number of billets identified in their requirements that are identified as flying requirements and compare those to the number of pilots.
So for instance, and this is in our prepared testimony, in the Air Force, the number of flying billets or the requirement for actual flying cockpit jobs is 10,490, yet the Air Force has well over 13,000 pilots.
So what you find is that all the cockpit positions are filled. The shortage manifests itself in these non-flying positions.
In the Navy, the situation is even more extreme. They have a requirement for 3,359 positions, this is data from 1998, I might add, fiscal year '98, yet they have an inventory of overhad an inventory of over 6,500 pilots. In other words, they had nearly twice as many pilots as they did cockpit positions.
So, again, the shortages they cite are going to be manifested in the non-flying positions because they give, as we would all agree they ought to, priority to filling those cockpit positions first.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Even with that, does that answer the question about starting from that position, say, with the Air Force and the Navy, starting with thosethat recitation of numbers. Let's assume, for conversation sake, they're correct and that they can move the pilots around in fair order to be able to fill cockpit requirements, if they had to, I mean, as they change.
What is the projection then, what is the argument then? Is the argument that the pressures from commercial side are going to be so great that they'll start losing those cockpit pilots?
Mr. JEHN. My understanding of the argument, and this is obviously a question that you need to direct to the services, as well, but my understanding is that when they talk about shortages, they are always talking about shortages compared to the total requirement, which is to say both the flying jobs, the cockpit jobs, as we've been talking about it, filling the cockpits, but also staff and other kinds of positions that do not require actual flying, but in the services' judgment, require the experience, skill, knowledge and judgment of a pilot to get to the job.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. That was the point I wanted to get to next. The argument here is, is it not, that even though the person may not be actually flying, it requires somebody who has knowledge and experience of flying in order to be doing that job adequately with respect to directing, supervising, et cetera, the person who is in the cockpit? Right?
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JEHN. That's right.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. Last question, then. I appreciate your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, on this. Were you able to get any statisticsdid you ask at allabout the actual relationship between commercial pilots and thosein other words, the commercial airlines utilizing the services as the resource for their personnel?
What percentage of people flying commercially now got their training in the armed services? I have a serious reason for asking that question.
Mr. JEHN. I do not have that number. My understanding, though, is
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. What does your garden variety logic tell you?
Mr. JEHN. That an increasing percent of the pilots that the airlines are using were not trained in the military. But Mr. Gebicke, I think, has some actual numbers.
Mr. GEBICKE. The best number we have right now is about a third of those that are commercial pilots had military background. I would agree with Mr. Jehn's statement. We understand that that percentage will actually be declining over time.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Is it declining because we've drawn-down the number of people that are
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. GEBICKE. There are fewer pilots and I guess there are other resources available to the airlines besides the military.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I was just thinking about there's going to be more flying than less in years to come. If they get more sources, maybe that would be one thing, but they'll continue to draw, no doubt, on the services, right? I was just thinking that somewhere along the line, the airlines ought to pay for it, because theand this does not reflect on pilots. I've been thinking a lot about this.
The commercial world is able to take advantage of the training that goes on in all the services at all different levels. It is not a stretch to say that the United States military is the greatest job training organization in the United States and probably, by extension, in the world, and the commercial world derives benefit out of that.
And I'm not adverse to saying that they should helpthey get the benefit of it and taxes get paid, yes, all the rest of it, but they also getyou know, if somebody is training, somebody else is paying for the training. Taxpayers as a whole are paying for the training.
There ought to be some way that that could be maybe turned into bonuses. I'm not talking about dumping money into the general treasury. I'm talking about you go back here, the argument here has to do with equipment, spare parts, long hours, because there's not the availability of these things, all the rest of it, and maybe there is some way to work that. At least, in my mind, it's something that should be pursued, because they're getting a hell of a benefit out of this.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. JEHN. Yes, sir, you're right. Of course, it's not just pilots. We all know about computer specialists.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. That's what I said. It goes across the board now.
Mr. JEHN. Aviation mechanics are all being drawn from the services to go into
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Computer specializations of all kinds.
Mr. JEHN. Exactly.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. And leadership. I'm talking about the ability to supervise, to carry out a job, to be disciplined on the job, to knowI mean, if you've got two candidates for a job, in almost any category, the person that's been in the military is likely to score high on reliability and self-discipline and initiative and all kinds of things of that nature.
So in that regard, Mr. Chairman, I'm not quite sure about what to do. It just strikes me that the commercial side gets a hell of a good deal.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Abercrombie, I think societywe get a good deal out of this, too, in public safety. I would much prefer to fly on a plane, a jet aircraft in Delta, for example, that I knew was ex-military. That's just me personally, because you've done such a good job training them.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Although every time I land at National, I swear, I can tell the difference between someone who got out of Purdue University Aviation and someone who was in Naval air, because they come inthey come down that river and they can't wait to slam it on the deck. They give it a little extra, you know, they've been flying that bus, and now they get to do a little maneuvering down the river.
I can tell a military pilot, now that I've been flying it for six years every week.
Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd be interested in knowing more about the value of having pilots in these non-flying positions. This is something that my visits to Air Force bases, I've heard a lot about and I've heard both the pilots' concern that they're not flying, but the commanders' concern that, in fact, it's important to have them there.
And has anybody looked at a ratio of pilots in the non-flying positions to maybe supplement with a highly trained non-pilot with pilot supervision? Is there any discussion going on about that and have you done any work in that regard?
Mr. GEBICKE. We have and it's been very limited, the work that we've done in that area. Basically, when we looked at it, we suggested the services really needed to go back and review each one of those positions.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But I would like to make one point that we shouldn't lose sight of. We've talked about two potential career paths here, one a fly only and one a fly/leadership role. We can't eliminate all of the non-flying positions, because you do have a group of pilots who do aspire to go on in the military and they need the experiences that they gain through those staff positions.
We might even find that a large majority of those staff positions, if we were able to do this review, don't need to be pilots, but we might find that we want to put pilots in those positions to groom those pilots for greater leadership responsibilities later in their career.
So it's just something we can't lose sight of. It's not just the position, but it's also where you want pilots to be after they've been in the service 21, 22 or 23 years.
Mr. JEHN. We, CBO, have not looked at that question directly, sir, but I'd like to just emphasize something Mr. Gebicke said or expand on it.
We've talked about sort of two extremes; namely, the current career model in the services that combines flying with a lot of non-flying jobs, both because pilots are necessary in some of these jobs, but also, as he said, to prepare these pilots for leadership positions later in their career, or, alternatively, we've talked about a career-only track.
Those aren't necessarily the only two options. You could imagine options in between and the only suggestion I would make today is thinking about considering those kinds of options, I think, is demanded by the situation the services find themselves in now. But I would argue that they were in similar straits many times in the past.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Kuykendall.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. I forget which one of you were talking about the comparison of the number of pilots you had to the number of flying billets you had. I have one question.
For instance, in a squadron where you may have a requirement that a squadron has ten aircraft in it, but you have a requirement for 14 pilots. In your number counting, were you counting that extra three as cockpit jobs or non-cockpit jobs, in those kind of cases?
Mr. JEHN. No. My understandingby the way, the numbers I was citing a few moments ago come from the services. My understanding of their accounting, all of those are counted as flying positions.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. Okay. Then we'll clarify that, if that was the case, because that would certainly account for it.
Mr. JEHN. Yes.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. Every squadron has that kind of a extra built into it.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. JEHN. Right.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. That could account for some of them. I'm also intrigued some by your idea of using non-pilots for some jobs. I happen to have been one of the people that was trained to be a FAC, a forward air controller, and in the Air Force, they never use non-pilots for that job, and in the Marine Corps, they predominantly use non-pilots for that job. It just depended on how they were being delivered to the site.
I thought I could do just as good a job as any Air Force guy, telling that bomber where to drop his bombs. But I certainly didn't have the training dollars spent on me that were spent on a pilot. And I could do it from the ground or I could do it from the air or I could do it from a helicopter or from a fixed-wing aircraft and for 12 weeks down here at Cherry Point, I could perform all the missions it took years to get a pilot trained to do.
So I would, I guess, like to see some comment from the service members next about that area particularly.
Finally, you were talking about the deployments and in your study meeting with members of the service and in your surveys, if we take people who were in flying billets and we don't have these transfers to staff, but leave them in a flying billet all the time, if you're flying, you're deploying, period.
We don't send people to go fly that don't deploy all the time and you're either on the deployment or ramping up for the deployment or just back from the deployment to get ready to go on the next deployment.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So did you have any comments on the non-flying status time periods? Even if it's a straight pilot and someone that wants to fly all the time, we've got to have someplace, I think, to allow them to have a period of time where they can basically reacquaint themselves with their neighbors and their family.
Just if you could elaborate some on your survey data on that area, with comments, too. In the non-deployment cycle, for instance, a squadron pilot may go on a six-month deployment, then they're back for 12 or 18 months, then they go back out on another 6-month deployment, and I can only use one example that I know intimately well, and that happens to be F14s at Oceana.
They're all at Oceana. Deployment from west coast or the east coast comes from Oceana. The bombing ranges are in Nevada. They're in Oceana or they're down in the Caribbean.
In order for them to ramp up to be deployed, they're going to have a lot of two and 3 week away from home trips. So basically they're going to maybe spend a year's worth of time away from home for everyjust making 3-week trips to Fallon, 2-week trips to somewhere down in Puerto Rico.
Comment, if they had any comments in your survey data on that. Is that the kind of thing that's an irritant? Because to me, that's part of what we're dealing with on how do we shrink these bases down and how do we shrink the workload down.
Mr. GEBICKE. I think, first, we'd want to differentiate between the Navy pilots and the Air Force pilots that we talked to. The Naval pilot is generally expected to be deployed for longer periods of time. That's the expectation when they joined the Navy.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Air Force pilots, on the other hand, if you think about those that are flying today, probably joined the service with a little different expectation and the situation they find themselves in today. They're flying and they're deployed a lot more than they probably anticipated when they first joined and they earned their wings.
Having said that, I'm not sure that it's necessarily the number of deployments or the frequency as much as it is the unpredictability of the deployments. And I think that is part of the rationale for the Air Force's movement to the Air Expeditionary Force, where just two units, if you will, will be deployable at any point in time. So the other eight units basically know that they will be at home doing the things they need to get done in order to deploy when their turn in the box comes up.
So the predictability is there and some of the pilots we talked to did raise reservations about the length of their deployability at 90 days. They suggested that 45 days might be a little bit better, but you can't have everything.
So that's, to elaborate on the deployment, what we heard.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you, gentlemen. I recognize Gene Taylor, I appreciate you being here. Let's now go to panel number two.
Mr. GEBICKE. Thank you.
Mr. JEHN. Thank you very much.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Thank you, gentlemen. As we proceed, I'd like for each of you to state your name, the type of pilot you are, but also what type aircraft you fly and where you're presently assigned.
I'm not aware if anyone has any written testimony. Does anyone?
Captain CLAY. Yes, sir, I do.
[The prepared statement of Captain Clay can be found in the appendix.]
Mr. BUYER. If you would like to submit it for the record, you may. I'm going to throw out a couple of areas and let you know where we're going and then we're going to turn it over and let each of you give a short statement by way of opening. Does that sound all right?
We're looking atwe'd like to know from you what are some of the biggest issues that are causing people to leave the military in aviation. We are interested in your perspective on where you and your contemporaries put the draw of airline hiring in the priority list.
What needs to be done? We're interested in your perspective. We're interested in your view of what needs to be done to reverse the retention attitude among pilots in the military. What is the most important thing? Is there a silver bullet solution?
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Would some of the out-of-the-box ideas work? Such as the fly only career tracks, earlier retirement? Maybe we make some changes in the up-or-out policy for pilots and expanding the reserve of our component.
We have receivedthis committee receives many letters from aviators expressing their views on retention and very many of the letters focus on pilots' frustration with leadership. We hear about leaders so focused on their promotion, that they can't say no to new tasking or createor, worse, they create work just to look good.
Leaders who don't care about the welfare of the troops. I'm just reiterating some of the letters that we receive. Leaders without the courage to speak up about readiness problems, about shortfalls in equipment, or out of control political correctness. Leaders who work so hard that no one wants to stay in and get stuck with the life they live.
Some interesting things. But let me turn it over to each of you and we're interested in your perspectives.
STATEMENT OF CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 KENNETH W. ENGASSER, JR., INSTRUCTOR PILOT (AH64) U.S. ARMY, HUNTER AAF
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Sir, I'm CW2 Engasser. I fly Apache helicopters.
Mr. BUYER. Will you pass a microphone?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Sir, I'm Chief Warrant Officer 2 Engasser. I'm stationed down at Hunter Army Air Field, Savannah, Georgia. I'm an AH64 attack helicopter pilot. I've been flying for about eight years now.
Mr. BUYER. Wait a minute. Here's what we're going to do. I gave you some opening questions by way of perspective and now I'd like for each of you, by way of opening, give me three or five minute comments on each them, and then I'm going to turn it over to the rest of the members of the panel for some specific questions.
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Okay. Sir, as an Army aviator and a rotary wing aviator, I don't know that the airline draw has a big effect on our retention in the Army as Apache pilots.
The things that affect Army aviators, especially in the Apache community, are the deployments, the frequency of the deployments, the short time that we do spend in the states.
Basically, right now, sir, what we're looking at is approximately two to three year stateside assignment and then rotating to Korea for an unaccompanied tour, a full year away from families, then returning to the states for another two to three years, then returning directly to Korea or perhaps to Germany.
During those two or three years that we are in the states, tours to Bosnia and Kuwait disrupt our stateside time, as well.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Also, another complaint for us, as Army aviators, are living conditions and working conditions, both in garrison and in the field. A big thing for us, most of us spent six months in Kuwait, in 140 degree heat, in canvas tents, with no air conditioning, while right across the road from us was the Air Force with their air conditioning, environmental control units, and it was just for us to see that and to be there for those 6 months in 140 degree heat in the middle of the summer was very distracting to a lot of the pilots.
Those are our two big complaints, the fact that we're not home and when we are not at home, it doesn't seem that we're being taken care of as far as working and living conditions.
That's all I have, sir.
STATEMENT OF CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 CHRISTOPHER R. SPINDLER, INSTRUCTOR PILOT (UH60), U.S. ARMY, FORT RUCKER
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Sir, I'm Chief Warrant Officer 2 Spindler. I'm stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama, where I'm an instructor pilot, teaching the UH60 Blackhawk AQC [Aircraft Qualification Course].
I've been a rated aviator for approximately seven and a half years. Out of that seven and a half years, I've spent three years in the Republic of Korea, three years at Fort Campbell, and a year at my present assignment.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Before I came here, when I got notified that I'd come here to give testimony, I had a million and one people calling me. I've had people calling me on the weekends, letting me know what they wanted me to say.
Out of that, I have prioritized some of the top issues that we have as warrant officer aviators and aviators in the United States Army in general.
The first one is constant deployments.
Mr. BUYER. Would this consist of not only helicopters, but fixed wing and jet aircraft?
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Sir, in the Army, we have may two UH60'sexcuse mejet aircraft that I know of. This includes some fixed wing aircraft, but the majority is rotary wing.
We're constantly deployed. Out of the three years that I spent at Fort Campbell, I spent a little bit over 300 days in the field. That's not being deployed anywhere. That's just training time, CONUS [Continental United States].
In Germany, the people that I've talked to, three of them spent 22 months out of a 36-month tour deployed. One of them spent 29 months.
The second issue would be retirement. The Army can't compete with civilian opportunities. I can start a job in the civilian world at $43,000 a year, receive better medical benefits, receive better dental benefits, and in many companies, you can be vested in three years.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In the Army, given a normal career progression, if I don't make Chief Warrant Officer 4, I could be let loose from the Army at 16 years in service and receive nothing but a little bit of severance pay. And people aren't willing tosoldiers aren't willing to make that kind of commitment for a 40 percent retirement.
The Army does not offer bonus money, either, except for the H64 community. We do not have any opportunity to put way that extra money. A 401(k) plan is not an option.
The third concern that we have is our medical benefits right now, soldiers are having to pay for medical care out of their own pocket. The Army will provide approximately 80 percent medical care; however, for family members, it's almost non-existent, except for with the programs we get with TRICARE that we have to pay a dental supplement ourselves.
And with that, I'll pass the mike.
STATEMENT OF LT. COMMANDER LEON W. SMITH, E2C PILOT, U.S. NAVY, NAVAL STATION NORFOLK
Commander SMITH. Mr. Chairman, I am Lieutenant Commander Leon Smith. I have approximately 14 years service in the Navy, flown, for the most part, E2s out of Norfolk for that whole career, with the exception of three years down in Pensacola, flying T2s as an instructor.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I, approximately 1 year ago, submitted my letter to resign. I'll be getting out in April. I think the two biggest issues, and they're broad, are, one, taking care of our people and the second would be the tasking, which is a recurring theme here.
Just to give you some examples, the hangar that I have spent the better part of, say, 11 years working out of is SP1. Just so you know, SP stands for seaplane, to give you an idea. It'swell, it's pathetic. I can't think of any other word. And to have our troops working out of such a facility, rats, mice, lead paint, asbestos, limited heat, almost no air conditioning, it's pretty bad.
And just to see other facilities being built up and we're still in these facilities doesn't help much. I will admit, I'm very frustrated with working for so many years in such a facility. And it doesn't get any better if I go on a detachment. In the E2, we're tasked, not part of our deployment cycle, to go down to do what we call drug operations in Puerto Rico. We'll go down there for two months, 56 days, so we won't count as a deployment, and work out of hangars with no air conditioning.
I know you've been in Puerto Rico, 100 degrees during the summer, high humidity, asking our troops to work hours
Mr. BUYER. I'd interrupt you. Tell me about this gamesmanship. They send you, but cut it short, so it's not counted as a deployment. I don't know about this.
Commander SMITH. I don't know all the details, sir. We go for only 56 days, because my understanding is 60 days or more, it's a deployment. I'm not sure and I don't want to mislead you.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Have you seen that happen a lot in your 14 years?
Commander SMITH. Yes, sir. E2s do it in between deployments all the time.
Mr. BUYER. And what happens if it's counted as a deployment?
Commander SMITH. Well, then you get into OPTEMPO problems with not meeting the required OPTEMPO because we're gone too much.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. Mr. Chairman, that was what I was trying to get at earlier, talking about what you do in between the trips. I just didn't say it as well as he did.
Commander SMITH. But the facilitiesback to the facilities. Even in our own home base, you know, the hangar, the BEQ [Bachelors Enlisted Quarters] that the troops have to live in is poor, to say the least.
Per diem. We used to have a thing called smart per diem. Thank God, they got rid of that. But to think that we would send our troops on a detachment for six or eight dollars a day is kind of incomprehensible, in my opinion, that we would do that to them. I don't understand how that really came about, but thank God we did get rid of that.
The bonus that theI have been briefed on and I think it's a great idea. We've talked here about exceeding the 14-year requirement. That is a great idea. You can think of it as a reward to reward the people doing the hard jobs, the people going out to sea, the people going on deployments, the people that are screened to be a department head, screened to be a CO [Commanding Officer], do the sea tours post-CO.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So now you're talking 17, 18, 19, 20-year guys. I think that's a great, great idea and I hope that does go through. My only recommendation would be make it consistent. They talk about giving the bonuses to the people with retention problems. Well, that changes year to year and it should be more of if a guy comes in the service, he does know that, when he's going to be a department head, he'll get that bonus, that reward for doing a superior job and becoming a department head, a reward for going out to sea, et cetera. I think that's a great solution that they're working on now.
My other area would be tasking. As we've talked about, most Navy personnel know you're going to go out to sea, and I don't think anybody has a problem with that. I'll say personally I don't have a problem with that. I like going out to sea.
The work-ups, you have to understand, though, prior to that six-month appointment, it's going and coming constantly for months at a time. Before I can go out for six months, if you'd like to run down what a typical work-up cycle would be, but it would be somewhat lengthy.
That's up to you, Mr. Chairman. I don't know if you'll want to go into all that. But the problem is in between those deployments, we get a lot of, I'll say, non-operational tasking; drug ops, for one, for an E2 guy. Brothers to the Rescue, the Cuban immigrants who go down with the airplanes, fly out of Miami and get in their boats, and we need to watch them or we provide surveillance out of Key West.
When you've been on a deployment for six months, you come home for 30 days, you get that off. On that 31st day, we're in Key West, doing that every weekend. A month and a half after a 6-month deployment, I'm in Puerto Rico for two months.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
To give you an example, I have beautiful little daughters and my youngest one is three. Of the first 18 months of her life, I was gone 12. I've never had a Thanksgiving with her and, fortunately, I've had two Christmases with her, and it should have only been one, but I've got a good CO and a great Commander, Air group [CAG] that said, hey, why don't you go on home for this one.
So the in-between tasking stuff is really hurting us.
You also mentioned, and I have it marked here, let the senior leaders, let them say no to certain tasking. Let them say no because the facilities are not adequate. Give them the opportunity by making them do it. As a good sailor, when we get tasked, we're going to say, yes, sir, and go with it, and we'll be proud to do that, if the requirement is there.
I'd just ask thatmake sure that the requirement is there and then if we can try to upgrade the facilities, that would be very beneficial to morale.
We talked about the downsizing, with no decrease in tasking. That's a big one.
To answer a couple of your questions you asked. Is there a silver bullet? Absolutely not. There's a lot of things, as I've alluded to here, getting rid of the Redux is a good step. The bonus system, another good step. There is no one answer, but I think if you put the effort forth and continue to put that effort forth, that you're taking care of your people, I think would make big strides.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Fly-only. I can only speak personally. I would not like that. I like being a leader. My last job in my squadron was as a maintenance officer, department head for approximately 100 people. I love that. Best job I've ever had. Challenging, but very, very rewarding.
So personally, I would not want to just fly only. I would like to fly and one thing you need to know is I have flown. I have not gone to a staff job, and it's been great. So I do like that, but if we're going to go the fly only, I think we do need to be careful and train leaders.
I already mentioned the bonus past the 14-year mark. I think awarding the tough jobs is an excellent idea and I hope that does go forth.
And that's all I have, sir.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you. Appreciate your contribution. Lieutenant?
STATEMENT OF LT. LOUIS J. SCHAGER, F14 PILOT, U.S. NAVY, OCEANA NAVAL AIR STATION
Lieutenant SCHAGER. Mr. Chairman, my name is Lieutenant Lou Schager. I'm currently an instructor pilot, with VF101, the F14, instructing fleet replacement squadron.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At the present time, I plan on continuing my Naval career. I see I'm a strong minority as of late. Before I get to some of the reasons why I think people are leaving, I'd just like to mention why I would like to continue my Naval service, and it comes down to two basic reasons.
First of all, I think with most of the aviators here sitting next to me, they love to fly, they love the mission, they love the challenges and the excitement which comes with those. Especially for me, flying off a carrier, I just don't see anything touching that in the civilian world, as far as an occupation.
But more importantly, what really drives me to continue is the incredible and unique camaraderie that you'll find within aviators; probably in any service, but with my experience, in the F14 community in the Navy, it's just untouchable. That's the primary reasons why I would like to continue my Naval service.
Like I mentioned before, I'm in the minority as of late and I have a couple of thoughts on that, as well, as to why my fellow aviators seem to be leaving the service. As Leon (Smith) mentioned, as well, there are a couple of major ones, number one being time away from home is always going to be a factor. And like he also mentioned, every Naval officer, in particular a Naval aviator, understands the six-month deployment schedule. However, from personal experience, I was attached to a west coast squadron, initially, Miramar, with base closures, went to the east coast.
As Representative Kuykendall mentioned, typically, six to seven months prior to that deployment, six-month deployment, your work-ups, you're probably away probably three or four months out at a time.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Being single-sided and having to go across country four or five times prior to that deployment to do your work-ups adds an additional at least month and a half total time. So we're probably looking atI was going through a number from my last deploymentprobably gone nine months out of 13 prior to that deployment, which is very significant.
And being single, it's not much of a factor for me, but it's kind of a tribute to those that have toare away from their children and their homes. So that is a big factor.
Another big factor or common theme is, of course, financial incentives. I think to compete with the airlines, I think the bonuses, in particular, beyond the 14-year point, are very important. I also think bringing back or taking away the retirement plan Redux, I think that's going to be very important as far as bringing it back up to 50 percent.
In addition, a 401(k) plan like, I think the first savings plan, which is what the Navy has proposed, I think is also a very good idea. All theseI think the principals behind them are great as far as demonstratingthe leadership demonstrating that we're looking out for our guys and girls and we're looking to provide the best environment for them to maintain their Naval careers.
That kind of goes into what I didn't mention, financial gains, in my opening statement, as far as why I want to stay in the Naval service. I think most guys will not base that solely on why they want to stay in as far as, well, the airlines are makingthere's a lot more to it.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
However, I think to remain competitive, I think that's extremely important, an integral part as far as people staying in the Navy or in any service, continuing their flying careers.
Most significantly, though, what I found as far as why aviators seem to be getting out is the continued theme, and that was alluded to before in the first panel, as far as this doing more with less concept, which has been prevalent for as long as I have been in the Navy, the past nine or ten years.
The only Navy I've seen is one that's been downsizing. So we've seen continuedless per diem, longer ship-based tours, shorter shore-based tours, and typically it's 3 years for a ship-based tour, then you come back for 3 years and do a shore-based tour.
Some guys do an extended 4-year ship-based tour and then they go to their shore-based tour and they're dragged out of that a little early because of, another catch22 here, but because of all the shortages of pilots, and they're only spending two years on their shore-based tour. That's a significant point.
Under-manned flight decks, under-manned crews throughout both on the carriers themselves and also back at home. But most importantly, what I see is dwindling aircraft parts, dwindling support as far as providing support for those aircraft, in addition to dwindling base support as far as providing as much as necessary for these aircraft to be flying every day.
I can go through a couple examples. For myself, as an instructor, in the fleet replacement down in Virginia Beach, I would ideally like to instruct a student in an aircraft which is going to be very representative of why of what they'll be flying in the fleet; for example, have all the necessary combat equipment on that.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
However, because of a lack of a parts and the shortages, in general, that is not the case.
There are three different models of the F14. In every instance, these aircraft are lacking essential parts, which not only provide a good training platform in the fleet, but also we find them, as was alluded to before, cannibalizing aircraft. Swatters come back from deployment, we're giving not only their parts away, but their aircraft away to other squadrons so they can fulfill their deployment requires and go out on the sea.
What does that mean for aviators? They come back from a deployment and they're really not flying hardly at all. Which, again, we're in this business to fly and to train and so when we come back from ourtypically, when you see guys coming back from deployment, you see their aircraft and parts going away, and so that means they're flying is going away, and, again, that's why we're in this business, to really to train and to prepare for that next deployment, and that is very disheartening.
In closing, there's a couple more points, but I'll kind of cut it short here. I think that in general, I think most aviators will do their jobs, for instance, for less money than the competition is putting out in the commercial airlines. However, I don't think they're going to continue to do their jobs for less parts and less aircraft and less flight time.
I think that's an overall theme that I've seen, sir. That's all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BUYER. Thank you, Lieutenant. Captain?
STATEMENT OF CAPT. ROBERT G. DUNHAM, KC10 PILOT, U.S. AIR FORCE, McGUIRE AFB
Captain DUNHAM. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I'm Captain Rob Dunham, a KC10 pilot at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. I'd like to thank the committee for this opportunity to express at least one pilot's view of the great pilot exodus and maybe help you understand why so many of us are making the decision to separate.
To understand my decision, I think you need to know who I am and where I'm coming from. I was commissioned in the Air Force in 1988 through ROTC, upon my graduation from Princeton University. After pilot training, I spent over five years as a T38 instructor pilot, first at Williams, then at Seymore Johnson. I've been at McGuire for over three years, flying the KC10. I'm married and have two children.
While I am separating from Active Duty, I look forward to continuing to serve my country in the Air Force Reserve.
As to the fundamental question, why am I separating, I can't pretend to speak for all pilots, I can tell you that, for me, it was a very difficult and personal decision, the result of a combination of factors. While I have loved many of the things I've been able to do in the Air Force, the time has come to listen to both my head and my heart. It's time to separate.
In my case, and I suspect with most other pilots, there is not that one thing that is the reason. It is, as I said, a combination of factors. For me, those many factors can best be summed up as falling under three categories.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
First, there is frustration with the job itself. OPSTEMPO and OPSTURBULENCE are two big buzz words at work here. It's impossible to know my schedule more than a few days out, much less have any idea where I'll be next week or next month.
If letting down my family were a rare occurrence, I'd salute smartly and say it's the cost of doing business. When it becomes a regular event, it's time to take stock. The sad commentary is that as I look forward, I only see it getting worse with increased rank.
The second category is a general loss of faith. In part, this is a lost of trust. I have to tell you that I felt like I'd been lied to or misled more than once. In part, it's disillusionment. Many nights have been spent sitting in some far off corner of the world wondering what the heck am I doing here, supporting knee-jerk policies that are too often disjointed, disingenuous or dangerous.
Finally, there is how much I can improve my family's lifestyle as an airline pilot. You probably suspect this is what is driving a lot of pilots out. Well, the airlines might be the carrot, the Air Force is providing the stick. If the airlines weren't hiring, I probably would be getting out anyway.
Therefore, I believe you need to attack my first two concerns; rebuild faith in the Air Force and convince us that staying in is a potential to offer a rewarding career. You can't do it in time to change my mind, but you can prevent this from happening when Lieutenants and young Captains become Senior Captains.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other group that can be addressed and probably immediately are the Majors whose bonus commitments are coming out and addressing the 14extending the bonus beyond 14 years is something that can build more faith in them right away and possibly get many of them to stay for 20 years or more.
I thank you again for this opportunity to offer my opinion and look forward to answering all your questions.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you for your contribution. Major?
STATEMENT OF MAJ. REID M. GOODWYN, A10 PILOT, U.S. AIR FORCE, LANGLEY AFB
Major GOODWYN. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I'm Major Reid Goodwyn. During my brief statement, I will tell you about my background in the Air Force and why I've chosen to remain in the service until retirement.
Commissioned through ROTC in 1984, my first assignment was to the ballistic missile office as an engineer. I applied for and was selected to attend pilot training from this assignment.
After completing the pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, I have had three flying tours. First, flying the A10 at RAF [Royal Air Force] Woodbridge in the United Kingdom; second, flying the OA10 at Ossan Air Base, Republic of Korea; and, third, as an A-OA10 instructor pilot at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Currently, I am assigned to the Headquarters of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in a non-flying staff tour. I have had three long duration temporary duty assignments to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Thailand, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Italy.
I'm blessed with a wonderful wife, whom I met in Tucson, and a beautiful 11-month-old daughter.
I made the decision to remain in the Air Force in the summer of 1996. My decision was based on three factors. First, I love flying fighters. This profession provides endless challenges, immediate feedback of success or failure, and, put simply, great fun.
Second, I enjoy the camaraderie among combat air crew. We share many common characteristics and values, competitive, confident, goal-oriented, success-driven, and loyal.
Third, I feel a sense of duty to our country. As you know, many nations, organizations and individuals do not share our national goals or they seek to attack our country or citizens. Despite the sense of security many Americans feel, I recognize the requirement for warriors and leaders to protect our nation.
To answer a couple of our questions posed in your opening comments, Mr. Chairman, I'm concerned, in the long term, about reversing retention. The reason that young pilots or air crew look forward six or 8 years and see what's happening to more senior pilots or air crew and their bad memories have a very long half-life.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
There is no silver bullet. When considering what could be legislated, I tried to consider what could be affected in the near term. I came up with two factors. One was funding. Funding flying hours, aircraft spare parts, and training munitions.
This has two great effects. One, it increases combat capability because the pilots and air crew are doing what they want to do and practicing their war time tasking. Second, it reduces the cannibalization rate, that has been mentioned earlier, and the double work that the maintenance technicians have to perform. And finally, as I said earlier, it makes the air crew happy because they're doing what they love to do.
Third, I would demand that your combat forces be filled with warriors and leaders, not managers or careerists. We are a very different breed, the people that fight America's wars.
George Orwell said, quote, ''We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.'' We need warriors and leaders.
I'm a graduate of the Air Force Weapons School and in the combat Air Force, this is significant, but it's not significant for promotion boards. Although the Air Force has made recent strides and perception in the field is without filling certain promotion requirements, you can't get promoted. Filling these requirements as a pilot or air crew member may be impossible.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In response, I would propose evaluating and recognizing warriors on the combat capability they add to our defense, not necessarily on the additional or extraneous duties they perform.
In the A-OA10 community, we have lost nearly an entire generation of pilots. This is a loss of significant talent in combat capability.
I appreciate your interest in correcting our retention problems and thank you for the opportunity to testify.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you, Major. Captain?
STATEMENT OF CAPT. JAMES P. CLAY, JR., AV8B HARRIER PILOT, U.S. MARINE CORPS, MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, CHERRY POINT
Captain CLAY. Mr. Chairman, I am Captain Jim Clay. To best answer your question, I provide the following. My situation is not atypical. I was commissioned 6 September 1991, after graduating from Georgia Tech, with a degree in mechanical engineering.
I ascended into the commissioned ranks via the platoon leaders class aviation program, where I signed a 54-month, after initial training, contract as a freshman in college.
Always having a genuine desire to serve in the United States Marine Corps and always having had a deep desire to fly, I found the perfect match. Wide-eyed, enthusiastic, I began my service.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
My success in this chosen field was the very center of my existence and the most important thing to me in the world. As far as I was concerned, the faster I joined the tip of the sphere, the better. Although I always knew I would not make a career of the Marine Corps, I always expected the Marine Corps to get at least six years of useful work out of me. I felt I owed that.
Unfortunately, what the Marine Corps is getting is three and one-half years of useful work out of an eight-year commissioned service.
When I finally reached my first fleet squadron, it was nearly after five years of training. Until this point in my service, I was a training burden. Now, I finally had a chance to do what I joined to do. Now, finally in the fleet, what I found was low flight hours, low morale, a very busy ground job, and what appeared to be an aviate program in dire need of more funding.
In July 1998, another opportunity to serve on the tip of the sphere presented itself, when I deployed on board the USS Saipan, with HMM162, to the Mediterranean Sea. At the completion of my deployment, I had still only averaged 8.7 hours a month over the four-year period that I had been assigned to an aviate squadron.
Low flight time and low morale helped me to decide to exit the Marine Corps. Having married the previous year and considering the current state of the Marine Corps aviate program, my priorities began to change. The decision to get out at the completion of my contract was fairly easy.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Marine Corps has provided me with the best experience of my life, nonetheless. Although no amount of bonus money could keep me on Active Duty, my experience in the Marine Corps has been priceless. I am just simply not willing to volunteer for further Active Duty service under current conditions.
Although we have been concentrating on the negative aspects of military service, in my mind, the positive experiences and lessons learned far outweigh the negatives.
My single biggest regret is that I could not have been more useful to the Marine Corps during my years of Active Duty service.
The fact that I was invited here, the fact that you have made Congressional field trips to our bases to see our work environment and the fact that money has been recently earmarked to help address similar issues goes a long way in maintaining our confidence in our leadership and restoring morale. Thank you for that.
Regarding the retention issue, I would like to provide the following thoughts, which are accepted by many of my peers within my flight community.
Low monthly flight time. The past few years have seen a sharp, continuing decline in the average logged monthly flight hours, currently around 10 hours a month in my community. It is widely accepted that a minimum of roughly 12 hours a month produces a safe pilot. It is also widely accepted that a minimum of 18 hours a month produces a proficient pilot who can maintain combat readiness.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
A combat proficient pilot is both ready to fight and happy. Our current squadron commanders averaged 20-plus hours a month during the mid 1980's, when they were majors and captains flying in fleet squadrons. Although the aviate has traditionally been a low flight hour platform, their log books and hours are testimony to a very sharp and dangerous decline in flight time and an ever-eroding experience base.
Personnel resource management. I spent the first four and one-half years of my commissioned service in the training command. I am not alone. The current time to train is training. Newly learned aviator skills are tenuous. Keeping an aviator in the training command longer than necessary is both costly to the government and draining on the student aviator.
During an aviator's first tour on a fleet squadron, taking an aviator out of the cockpit for almost any reason after only 30 months borders on bad economy.
Currently, an aviator can expect about 30 months of flying in a fleet squadron and then a possible out-of-cockpit tour. Forward air controllers, necessary in the Marine Corps doctrine, fleet-assisted personnel support billets, staff tours and time on station are current enemies to the flight time-needy aviator.
At the current flight time average, aviators are leaving the cockpit much less experienced than their leaders did years ago.
Aircraft readiness. More parts, more maintainers. To quote a colleague, ''Aircraft material readiness reports do not tell a complete story.'' We have been forced to creatively calculate what an up-jet is. If we didn't, we couldn't fly at all. It's not uncommon to see days where 50 percent of the aircraft are not ready for flight.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
With sporadic parts support, we are often forced to cannibalize one aircraft for parts to fly another aircraft because our supply simply doesn't have adequate funding.
Bonuses. Not every pilot is going to stay on Active Duty after his or her initial contract. Some pilots will always leave, no matter what you offer. Neither I nor any of my peers ever joined the Marine Corps for the money. To serve one's country is reward enough.
For an aviator, that means combat proficiency. That means flight time. That produces reward in itself.
Don't misunderstand me. Bonuses do help. Not everyone can be awarded a bonus, however. Often, you can find two pilots working side by side that are professionally identical in every respect, but one does not rate the bonus for often singly obscure reasons. There is a feeling the bonus system is often unfair.
More importantly, the Redux issue has created more heartburn in career decisions than the existence or absence of the bonus.
Quality of life. The high operational tempo both abroad and at home has not declined with the military cutbacks in manpower, aircraft and money. To even fly just ten hours a month per aviator often requires maintenance Marines to work 12-hour days and many weekends. Planning a weekend getaway a month in advance is next to impossible.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are working our maintainers and providing little reward. No wonder the enlisted maintainers leave after their obligated service. Making promises to your family about your future availability for any kind of event is unrealistic. More manpower in the fleet and money for parts is a proven solution.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you. We have a vote on, Captain Rauch, and we can get your testimony prior to the next sound of the bell, I believe.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. FRANK E. RAUCH, II, F18 HORNET PILOT, U.S. MARINE CORPS, MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT
Captain RAUCH. Mr. Chairman, my name is Captain Rauch. I'm an F18 pilot, in Beaufort, South Carolina. I'd like to thank you for this opportunity to testify today.
I've been in the Marine Corps a little over 9 years. I've been very proud to serve in the Marine Corps and I'd do it again.
As to why people are getting out, I thinkI don't think there is any one particular issue that can be addressed to stop the aviators from getting out. I think, as has been testified here, it's a bunch of smaller dissatisfiers that, added up together, drive people to that decision.
Some of those, I believe, are flight time, which has been mentioned. Flight time is down because we do not have adequate manning, both pilot-wise and maintenance-wise. We do not have the maintainers and parts, as has already been mentioned.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Another dissatisfier, I believe, is when do these deployments, especially the deployments that we do in CONUS, we do not properly fund them. We send people out without proper funding, without necessarily the proper spaces to stay in, and they do it and they'll do it proudly. But if you keep requiring them to do these kinds of things, it adds up over time.
An example I can give you is a deployment we just came from about six weeks ago, we were doing an air-to-ground deployment, one that we were not supposed to do because we had already done one a couple months prior. But due to a lack of units' availability, we were the only ones in town that could cover this commitment.
So we jumped on it. We did it. And two days prior to leaving, we were told your per diem is going to be cut by over half and we don't know if you're going to come home in five weeks or three months, and that's kind of hard to tell our Marines, our families. And it's those kinds of situations, I think, that, added up over time, frustrate people.
The pay has been mentioned earlier. It needs to be addressed both, I believe, on the officer level and on theespecially on the enlisted level. We need to keep our Marines in to maintain our jets and their pay really needs to be brought up to par. Retirement is being addressed and I think that will help.
I can mention some personal reasons for myself, personal dissatisfiers. I was not able to see my first child born. I didn't see him until he was four months old, and I could have, and that's kind of what hurts. It hurts my wife and myself knowing that I could have and I didn't.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
TRICARE and medical benefits I think are well below standard. It's very frustrating for me to know that my wife and family have difficulties at times getting the medical assistance and benefits that they need.
PERSTEMPO/OPTEMPO has been mentioned. Initially, when I joined the fleet, we had about a 50 percent PERSTEMPO/OPTEMPO. At the time, you could expect to be gone 50 percent of the time that you were there. It seemed that everything was being brought into check with that. It was being reduced and things were being done to reduce the PERSTEMPO/OPTEMPO, and things were starting to look good and now thisin this year, we have Marines in our squadron that will be deployed approximately 80 percent PERSTEMPO rate.
And last-minute deployments orit's more of an individual issue. You can get a phone call saying we need somebody to fill this billet for 4 weeks and you have to leave in 3 days, pack your stuff, and they will, and that's fine, but all these CONUS deployments and these billets to fill have been known about for a long time and it's basically just lack of people and units available to fill them.
What do I think would cause people to stay, as it's been addressed? More flight time. To answer your question, Mr. Chairman, is there a silver bullet, I don't believe so. I think we need more flight time.
What I see as the problem with the flight time is the rich get richer, meaning the more experienced guys, with all the qualifications, are the guys that are flying the most, because you need them to train the newer guys. So the newer guys are suffering. They have about 150 hours a year for a new guy. I think they need to get at least 250 hours a year or more.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We're losing a lot of the mid-level experience, which hurts. So in a squadron, you have very senior people with experience and brand new guys. We need to keep them.
Mr. BUYER. I tell you what. We're going to let you round out.
Captain RAUCH. That's about all I have to say, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BUYER. I'm not going to cut you short. We're going to stand in recess until about 1:10. We're going to come back and I'll let you finish.
Captain RAUCH. Excuse me. 12:10. You thought you got lunch there, didn't you.
Mr. BUYER. I'm going to bring the committee back to order.
I'm going to ask some questions of you and we're going to develop a record. Some of my colleagues aren't here. My challenge is we have to vacate this room by 1. We're going to try toeach of you gave great testimony in your opening and I meant it when I said I appreciated your contribution.
We want to helpwe want to understand this problem so we can be responsive. I concur with all of you. I was asked a question yesterday that, well, isn't the pilot retention problem different than other retention concerns in the military, and my response to the reporter was no, it's a microcosm of a much larger problem, but theyyes, they have some of their own particular concerns that may be peculiar to them in aviation, but your testimony here today backs up my feelings that there is a much greater problem out there.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I want to ask a couple of questions. What would be your reaction to a thrift savings plan in which you could invest your Aviator Continuation Pay [ACP] bonus payments into a tax-deferred status? If we created that thrift savings plan and you could take your bonus and it goes right into a thrift savings plan, does that sound enticing or not?
Captain DUNHAM. Sir, I think that would be an excellent idea.
Mr. BUYER. Your choice.
Captain DUNHAM. One of the problems, it's kind of a minor gripe, but a gripe that a lot of people in the military have right now, is that we can't even fully deduct an IRA contribution because our tax status is that we've got a defined benefits pension plan, even though, until you make 20 years, you're vested zero in it.
And we would like to see more options where we could doget some sort of tax-deferred or tax-exempt type of an investment for retirement.
Mr. BUYER. Our difficulty is always Ways and Means, who don't likethe Ways and Means Committee, who does not like this idea of tax-deferred. They don't mind us giving you money so you can immediately spend it and get it into circulation out there, because we get the tax revenue back from it.
If we extended the ACP bonus through the 20 years of service, some of you touched on it, good idea, bad idea, right down the line?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Well, sir, the ACP bonus is new to the Army community. It's only offered currently to the Apache pilots. We're pretty much, at this point, just happy to be getting what we're getting, to be honest with you, sir.
It's just the first year. I don't think any of the paperwork has been signed. Most of the contracts have just come down through a distribution and arrived this week down at the unit level. So we're pretty happy with what we have, but extending it to the 20 years, I don't think we would have any complaints against that, sir.
Mr. BUYER. Would that make you feel a little more comfortable sleeping in a tent?
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. I don't know, sir, because to be honest, even with this bonus on the rise, we are stilling seeing Apache pilots getting out of the Army and, for the most part, it's the people with the families, not necessarilymyself, I'm single, so for me it was kind of easy to go ahead and take the money and stay in. But the big problem is the living conditions and the time away from families, and I have seen people within my unit who are turning down the bonus this year who will continue to either go to other branches of service or to get out of the military completely.
I guess my own personal response to you is I didn't mind sleeping in the tent. I'm Army, I chose to be Army, and I knew what the Air Force did and that's a different culture. But I felt much better about it. I got a different character out of it. I never saw a porcelain toilet for five months in the Gulf War. I never had a shower for five-six months. I thought I had a great tan, until I took a shower.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Any other reactions? Navy?
Commander SMITH. Yes, sir. I think it's a great idea and almost a must, again, to reward those people staying in and doing the tough jobs, going to sea.
Mr. BUYER. Air Force?
Captain DUNHAM. Sir, I think it's an excellent idea, especially withI don't think you've yet seen the number of the people whose bonuses are coming up who have, to say the least, are fence sitters and the Air Force assumption had been if you can get them to 14, they're going to stay. And there are a lot of them who they took the bonus six years ago when the policy was take the bonus or you're grounded, and they resented that at the time. They didn't feel it was a free choice.
They felt kind of forced into this and they've been looking for, when this bonus is up, unless there is something else, ''I don't think I want to do this anymore.'' Combine that with right now, because of manning issues, they haven't been able to get the staff jobs, they don't feel they look promotable.
The last Lieutenant Colonels Board in the Air Force really bore out that people who had not filled all the proper squares were not getting promoted. It sent shock waves through the junior majors who have not been able to get out to those staff jobs, that, ''Why should I stay when my bonus runs out?''
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A lot of them have told me if they had athe bonus went to 20, they would probably stay, because they are on the fence, but they really don't see much future in staying in without something like that. And it hurts to take a pay cut.
Mr. BUYER. Marine Corps?
Captain CLAY. Mr. Chairman, excellent idea, from the feedback that I've gotten.
Mr. BUYER. From aI didn't mean to be picking on you. From a force structure standpoint, let me, from the outside now, looking to each of the services, when I think of how the services are to perform their national military strategy, when the Apache pilots, when you sleep with the soldiers and you're in with the soldiers and you work with them, those combatants on the ground, just like the Harrier pilots, you're there with those Marines.
They have the confidence that when they call in the fire, they need the fire support, that you're going to be there and you're going to lay down the fire, because why? You know them by name. They like the A10's because it was that close air support. Why? Because of their accuracy. They knew they would be right there.
They kind of cringe a little bit when they call in for fire and it's coming in fast from an F15 and hope you got your math right.
Same with some of the Naval aviation. But from our perspective, looking at force structure, there is a reason that we've got you with the force and why it works so well.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I wanted to ask a question aboutand I'm not certain how this would work. I want to ask the personnel chiefs this.
Part of the up-or-out is also so you keep individuals motivated, you maintain the best quality, and you don't have stagnation. What if we provided some flexibility or gave some direction to the services thatto someone who doesn't want the staff job, who doesn't want the leadership position, but is a crackerjack fighter pilot, Apache pilot?
For example, you testified, Mr. Spindler, that if you didn't get picked up through W4, you're out. What about if we said at W3 you can stay or if you've got a lieutenant or a major that gets passed over twice, but he wants to fly and he's one of the best rated pilots, giving the services that opportunity or flexibility to say you can keep that pilot in?
What impact do you think that would have onis it a good idea? Secondly, what impact on morale within the unit, would it become a problem or not a problem, or should we take that individual and put him in an instructor's school?
I mean, there's some things that we could use. Trying to think outside-the-box here. This is each of your services. We want to be helpful.
Major GOODWYN. Mr. Chairman, I've thought about this a lot and what I proposed, a different evaluation system for people that go to war.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are a couple of ways to approach it. One, you promote them. That may have some legislative impacts because of the number of officers in a grade that we're allowed.
In effect, though, if we don't promote or don't increase pay, we're penalizing the person for doing their duty, which is being a warrior. In the RAF, they have very much more limited promotion opportunities, but they continue to get pay raises. We can't penalize someone for doing their job, or they will seek other opportunities.
So just so we can provide you the opportunity to continue flying, at some point, that flying opportunity is going to be gone because of health or age, we're burning up useful years in our life and we'll have to move on.
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Sir, I think that in the United States Army, I think that it would be a beneficial situation, because right now we're talking about people with 16 to 17 years in the service, 3 years from retirement, who are being let loose.
The bonus money in the Army is a major factor, also. In my unit alone, we have over seven individuals, including myself, who are transferring to another service. One of the major reasons is the bonus money.
Lieutenant SCHAGER. Mr. Chairman, I think it'swhat I personally think might happen is thatright now, the flying hours are already not there. If we have people staying in for a continued amount of time just to be professional aviators, I think that will be stretching that limited flight time already and I think that will be kind ofkeep the aviators in, but it's certainly not going to create more flight hours. It's certainly not going to get more parts.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. The points that all of you have made, I will take the record and I will share it with the Readiness Subcommittee, because you're going to need to be funded properly in the O&M accounts for each of the services, so you can get the flight hours up.
I remember back a few years ago, testimony was provided to us that we can make it up using simulators. I'm going to throw that out as a curiosity now to me about whether there is over-use on simulation and what impacts, is it positive or not positive or what do you see?
I'm kind of off on a beaten path here, but I'm very curious about it, because I met with the military command in the Egyptian military and they are havingthey did the same thing. The United States sold them also into the simulation and they've also had an increase in crashes.
Captain RAUCH. Mr. Chairman, if I can answer your question. Backing up to your first question about flying only and stuff, I meant to mention earlier, I think for a large number of pilots, that might be very attractive, especially with the length of time it takes for pilots to get to the fleet. In our situation, you're talking four years before you even show up to the fleet due to the training time and then they do three years and then they're gone doing a non-flying tour.
I think it would be more enticing if they could continue to fly longer, because it's taking them longer to get to the fleet.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As far as simulation, I think simulation can be good training for certain things, maybe special weapons deliveries and working on switchologies before you go do it in the plane, but there is no substitute for flying, I don't think, sir.
Mr. BUYER. Do you all concur with that?
[Chorus of yesses.]
Mr. BUYER. I yield to Mr. Abercrombie.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mention was made, Lieutenant, I think you may have brought it up and I don't know whether everybody else got to it or not, the question I intended to ask about the thrift savings plan.
You're familiar with it, obviously. I guess it was you, was it not, Lieutenant?
Lieutenant SCHAGER. Yes, sir.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Are the others familiar with at least the concept of what the thrift savings plan [TSP] is? I take it silence is assent. Somebody isn't. OK. You don't have to give an answer now, but it's something that you might want to consider letting the Chairman know about, inasmuch if, for better or for worse, you're spokespeople for the services and what you say today and what you follow up with will become the basis for a lot of decisionmaking that's going to take place here.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The thrift savings plan, in a nutshell, is the opportunity for almost all other Federal employeesif you think about it, you're a Federal employeeto put savings away and haveit's tax-deferred and the government matches a portion of money to that. For every $100 you put up, the government puts up $50. And that is tax-deferred. It goes in and you can invest it in various categories, from stocks to bonds to Treasury certificates, et cetera. You make a choice. It's handled by an independent group.
There has been some discussion on this, I guess, already. Not all of you have to answer, but, Lieutenant, I'll use you as the lead dog on this sled.
The idea, especially for thosethe reason why we're considering it is that if you're in the services today, it's not as it was back in World War II, where you had a single soldier, families were the exception rather than the rule and families with kids were an even greater exception.
Now that's the rule, especially if you're going to stay. If you're going to retain people, the chances are they're going to get married, the chances are they're going to have kids. That's why the deployment thing gets in all the rest of it.
So would the thrift savings plan, such as I've outlined, be ait could be a major factor, because when you did leave, then you'd obviously have a heck of a big nest egg, on top of whatever is being dealt with in terms of pension and other retirement benefits.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lieutenant SCHAGER. Sir, I think that would be very helpful. Speaking as far as aviators, I think you'll see people
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Excuse me. One other thing.
Lieutenant SCHAGER. Yes, sir.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. If there was aif we can resolve the bonus question, what we're considering also is that the bonus would be able to be rolled into a TSP at no penalties or anything like that.
Lieutenant SCHAGER. I think the concept of the TSP is great. I think you'll see aviators leaving as soon as the minimum service requirement is up, so they can jump on the seniority time line with a commercial airline, not because ofbecause they just invested 10 years in the military without some kind of a 401(k) plan type of a program.
So I think that would be very helpful for those people in the eight to 14 year range to say, well, I have invested in money, I think I could affordit would be comparable for me to continue my career. As opposed to as of right now, like was previously mentioned, on our W2, you've got that pension marked, but there's really nothing to show for it.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I forget whether it was you, somebody mentioned also like you get to 16 years and I think it was the up-or-out point that was raised by someone.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Under a TSP plan, of course, youthat wouldn'tyou would not be just tossed out with a piece ofyou know, a severance pay. You'd be entitled to the accumulated amount that you were able to put aside and the other contribution, plus interest.
Commander SMITH. If I may, sir. Again, I agree that TSP is a great idea. My only concern is we mentioned putting our bonus into it. Would that be an option or a requirement?
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. It would be an option.
Commander SMITH. Some people may want the bonus.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Exactly. But I'm saying that
Commander SMITH. Overall, allowing us to invest a certain percentage of our pay, I think, is
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I mention it in the sense that you would not be penalized if you did that.
Commander SMITH. Yes, sir, and I think that's an excellent idea to have that option available and be invested right away into your career, if you will, would be very positive.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ABERCROMBIE. See, the difference between this and a regular savings account is this starts earning interest right from the minute it starts and from the minute you start doing it.
Mr. Chairman, I thinkjust very quickly, and this is perhaps something that, again, does not need a lot of elaboration now, but you might want to put it forward for the Chairman's benefit.
From a policy point of view, one of the things that a couple of you mentioned was doing assignments that really aren't something that you feel accomplishes anything, although Members of Congress, you have to see the bigger picture. I was being told to see the bigger picture.
I'm not entirely sure that these flights from Puerto Rico or elsewhere to interdict drugs are anything more than public relations, that that's what is supposed to take place. Nothing against your abilities or what you're going to do, but how successful they really are in terms of the kinds of expenses that go with it.
I don't want to see you put into a situation where you're getting phony mission, with the idea that, oh, yeah, this is how you're going to do your training and all the rest of it.
You're going to train, do training, then do it for real, not come up with something phony. I'm not sure about the drug flights and I have even less of a sense that we're doing something sensible with this Brothers to the Rescue business. I don't think we're obligated to go following people that are out there playing footsy with international law, and that costs a hell of a lot of money and we could be doing a lot of other training.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
You're saying you're not getting enough training time as it is. I'd rather see you doing your own training, under your own services' decisions about what constitutes training, as opposed to taking flights that give you air time, but don't really train you for a damned thing and you just engage in some kind of pseudo foreign policy initiative that we're able to cite verbally, if no other way, as accomplishing something for the United States.
Now, you may not be in a position to comment on any of that, but I see some heads nodding. Anybody care to comment on it? Do you think drug flights accomplish anything?
Commander SMITH. Quite honestly, sir, no.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK.
Commander SMITH. Now, it's very subjective and they will brief you that it deters a lot, but we spend months down there and the readiness and morale
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Can somebody really seriously say to you that drug merchants and smugglers are going to be deterred?
Commander SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I don't see it as deterrence. Maybe actually catch people. That would be swell. I'm all for that. But you're not going to deter drug merchants. They'd cut through stone if they thought they could smuggle a drug through it.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Commander SMITH. I agree, sir.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Abercrombie, part of theour radar is a bunch of overlapping circles and there is gap in the coverage and we had some problems down in Puerto Rico with that radar down there and the Navy then was provided. Since Puerto Rico didn't turn on their radar, they were having to provide that.
The problem is the Coast Guard also got out of the fast boat business. So as soon as these guys would turn their planes around, the drug lords are sophisticated enough to know when they turn around, then they bring the planes in, they make an at-sea drop, they come in with the cigarette boats, and our Coast Guard vessels aren't fast enough, and they pick it up.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Well, if I could see some
Mr. BUYER. The bill that we justthat we increased funding for in the last Congress, at the end, was to put the Coast Guard back in the fast boat business.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I'm for that.
Mr. BUYER. And to close the gap in radar coverage.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes. If we could do some coordination with the Navy, the Coast Guard and any other airborne surveillance and do some real coordination and get these people, then I'd be for that. But I'm all for boosting the Coast Guard.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Thank you.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. And we ought to bring them in under this committee.
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, something I noticed back when I was on this committee is that it seems like every CINC [Commander in Chief] that comes on board has made an announcement that they're going to draw down the force a little bit farther, and they don't take into account the CINC who was ahead of them, they don't think much about the CINC who is going to come after them.
It really caught my attention when Lieutenant Schager, I hope I'm saying your name properly, said the only Navy I've ever seen has been downsizing. I've had this conversation with Admiral Johnson, because I think the message that is sent out every time he says we're going to let 8,000 people go, 10,000 people go, is really a horrible one. We all hate living with uncertainty.
So everyone in the entire Navy or whatever service is there and say, ''Am I one of the 8,000; is the 12 years I've invested going down the tubes, am I going to be that sacrificial lamb?''
So a question to all of you is what would it be worth to you, if anything, to have a CINC take over and say, ''Not on my watch, we're not getting one person smaller, we're not getting one plane smaller, we're not getting one ship smaller, we would do it at least as good as we're doing it now, if not better.''
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Would thatI know a lot of things you're talking about are intangibles. Would that intangible be worth anything to you?
The second thing I want to ask is going back to Warrant Officer Engasser, am I saying that correctly?
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Yes, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. When you talked aboutI'm sorry. It's Warrant Officer Spindler that talked about the medical and the dental. Where are you normally based?
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Right now I'm based in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Mr. TAYLOR. So you're telling me even as large an installation as Fort Rucker, your family can't count on dental?
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Yes, sir. Not on post. For instance, under the TRICARE plan, if my wife needs a cavity filled, they'll pay for the cavity or they'll pay for the filling, but not for the anesthesia. I know a CW4 on Active Duty right now that owes $1,600 in medical bills for himself.
Mr. TAYLOR. That was his 20 percent.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. No, sir. What happened
Mr. TAYLOR. He paid 20 percent of
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. What happened, because we don't have an emergency room on Fort Rucker.
Mr. TAYLOR. Warrant Officer Engasser, when you talked about your time in Kuwait being spent in a tent, do you know if that has been corrected?
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. Sir, I'm not sure exactly what the conditions they're living in over there presently. When we were there, like I said, it was just canvas bedouin tents.
Mr. TAYLOR. When was that, sir?
Chief Warrant Officer ENGASSER. This was from February of last year through about the end of July, beginning of August of last year.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, let's face it. We're some high priced protection for the Kuwaitis. You think they could pony up for some decent barracks. This is absolutely ridiculous. We're not talking about Bosnia, where they don't have two nickels to rub together. We're talking about a very rich country, where I happened to have seen the Crown Prince's gold-plated fittings on the sink and the commode and everything. So maybe he could shell out formaybe we could put a request in the bill that he lets his generosity extend to those people who keep him on his throne.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. TAYLOR. Sure.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Just for the record, Mr. Chairman, on that, that is a situation and I think we ought to get that bill in to those people. I went through London in the war, during the war, and saw all the Rolls Royces and Bentleys that had been shipped by plane from Kuwait up to London, so that the people who were in the hotels out there sweating out the war were able to have comfort. They brought their chauffeurs with them, too, so maybe those folks could deliver the money to the U.S. embassy.
Mr. TAYLOR. Reclaiming my time. Warrant Officer Spindler, when you enlisted.
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Yes, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. Were you promised free health care for you and your family for as long as you were in the service?
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Yes, I was, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. Free health care, without a co-pay, right?
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Yes, sir.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. TAYLOR. So you feel like they've cheated you on that promise.
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Honestly, yes, sir. And on the way to come here, I talked with some retired people and
Mr. TAYLOR. It's worse for them.
Chief Warrant Officer SPINDLER. Exactly. They say it's worse for them and that kind of takes away incentives to stay in and make the military a career, when you know that you're going to have to pay for the things that you were promised.
Mr. TAYLOR. Since we have all four services here and since all of you are obviously in some of the more prominent parts of your services, how many of you and your families can count on an on-base hospital for your families?
Major GOODWYN. Sir, that depends on what kind of service.
Mr. TAYLOR. As required.
Major GOODWYN. During the birth of my daughter, we got very good service at Langley Air Force Base. However, trying to get some routine appointments, dental, eyes, those kinds of things do prove very frustrating.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TAYLOR. What about in Pensacola? Yes, sir.
Commander SMITH. I'm actually still in Norfolk. When I was in Pensacola, though, I have to agree, one of my children was born there, it was a great outfit. Norfolk was a different story, really tough just for one of my kids to get a regular school checkup or get a shot. It can't happen. We've got to go outside.
Mr. TAYLOR. Is that the same for the Marines, sir?
Captain RAUCH. Yes, sir. It's kind of like what the Major said. It depends on the kind of service you're looking for. My wife, when she haswhen she delivers our children, she is considered a high risk pregnancy that the Naval hospital cannot handle there and due to the way TRICARE is structured, with our first child, she was able to be seen by doctors in our local town there, civilian doctors who could handle her situation.
When TRICAREwhen CHAMPUS changed to TRICARE, all the doctors in the local area refused to take TRICARE and we had to drive about an hour and a half to Charleston for all the appointments for our second child.
Captain CLAY. At the very least, sir, the system is very confusing and there is a general lack of confidence in the health care system. My family, for one, bought a supplement, bottom line.
Mr. TAYLOR. One of the things thatand I don't want to poison anybody's career. So I would understand if you don't want to answer this question, but it's something that just aggravates the hell out of me, is I don't think the CINCs are getting the message, because they're not asking for full-time health care on the bases.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
They seem to think TRICARE is working and, again, the impression I get is whether you're an E3 or an O3, 20 percent of that co-pay is still 20 percent of that co-pay when you are promised free. It's a nation not keeping their word.
Is that as big an aggravation as I think it is?
Captain DUNHAM. Sir, I would agree that that is an aggravation. It's alsoyou sometimes get the feeling with the TRICARE system that when you are using an off-base that it is designed around ''keep denying the claims, sooner or later, they'll give up.'' And it's generally not the case and I don't think most people do give up and most of the time the claim eventually gets paid.
But sometimes it's painfully obvious when you get an ultrasound and there is a bill from the hospital and a bill from the radiologist and you required a letter justifying it. Well, one letter should justify that you had the ultrasound. Yet, TRICARE makes this mistake all the time, they only pay one. We need another letter, in addition to the letter justifying the radiologist, we need a letter justifying the hospital or vice versa, when it was one visit at one time.
That type of thing is sort of anis a major annoyance, on top of the pay.
Mr. TAYLOR. Would you be able to reconstruct that incident and get a letter to the committee? If you can't get itI'm not a member of this subcommittee. The Chairman is nice enough to recognize me. But if you could, and I'd send it to them, I would certainly appreciate it, and any other instances along those lines, because one of the things that we find in dealing with the CINCs is they say, well, give useverything is fine until you give them specific instances.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So the more specific instancesone of you mentioned that you had several hundred phone calls before you came down here. The more specific instances, the better, in order to build a compelling case to fix that.
Mr. Chairman, you've been very generous. Thank you very much.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you, Mr. Taylor. We will conclude the second panel and for the third panel we're going to move to room 2216. I do appreciate all your contribution. If you have anything to add, please put it down in writing and send it to me, and I appreciate your service to country. Thanks.
Mr. BUYER. The subcommittee will come back to order. We now have the third panel. I note that each of you have a written statement and if each of you offer that statement, I'll have it submitted in the record. Is each offered?
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANCIS M. RUSH, JR., ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR FORCE MANAGEMENT; LT. GEN. DAVID OHLE, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR PERSONNEL, U.S. ARMY; VICE ADM. DANIEL T. OLIVER, CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL, U.S. NAVY; LT. GEN. DONALD L. PETERSON, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. AIR FORCE; LT. GEN. JACK W. KLIMP, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR MANPOWER AND RESERVE AFFAIRS, U.S. MARINE CORPS
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BUYER. Then we'll bypass the testimony and we'll go right to questions. I was informed that you have a meeting with Mr. de Leon at 2, and so youI also note for the record that all of you were present and heard the testimony of the two previous panels. So I think it would be advantageous if we just have at it.
Would that be all right, Mr. Rush?
Mr. RUSH. Fine.
Mr. BUYER. We'll open with aI'm going to read something here to you and then this will be a good opening for discussion.
Mr. Rush and the service personnel chiefs, I know that there has been a great deal of effort expended on addressing some of the quality of life issues that troubled pilots, particularly regarding the problems of Operations Tempo, and I commend those efforts, and I encourage each of you to continue to break down old barriers that block us from making life better for pilots and their families.
However, I don't get the sense that there is a commitment to finding the package of outside-the-box solutions needed to immunize military aviation from the airline hiring.
For example, the Air Force does not see a solution to the pilot retention until 2007. Navy projects a pilot shortage forever. We asked for a plan on aviator compensation in an FY98 House authorization bill. It was due in March 1998, and we have still not yet received it.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I'd like an answer on that.
It appears that the Department of Defense is perfectly happy to live with the problem and wait for an airline hiring cycle to slow down. Are you giving any thought to any of the outside-the-box thinking that might fix this problem in the long run?
Some of these ideas include, we discussed it with the two previous panels, fly only career tracks or enlistment of one-officer pilots, early retirement and airline jobs for pilots, no up-or-out policies for pilots, contract aviation operations, and expanded Reserve components.
Some of you have talked about pursuing a national strategy to address the pilot shortage, often referred to as the Pilots as a National Asset Study. What kind of solution do you expect such an effort would produce and what would a national solution to the pilot shortage look like that the military would find attractive?
Mr. Rush, I'll open with you.
Mr. RUSH. Mr. Chairman, first, let me say, with respect to the aviation plan study, we put a lot of work into that study as we have moved forward in combination with the services. We will get that study to you, but the results of that study we'll be coming to in terms of specific proposals that came out of the work that we did.
Two of those which are now under consideration for submission to this Congress include things that were talked about today.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
One is the ability to extend the aviation continuation bonus past the 14th year. Donald Peterson's testimony indicates that in 1995, one out of 14 aviators had completed 14 years life service. Today, in the Air Force, it's one out of four.
You heard from the second panel what they thought of that proposal and how important it was to continue it at least through the 20th year of service.
Now, we've done some of these things, thanks to this committee in the last two years, in increasing the aviation continuation of pay and increasing $190 the aviation career incentive pay and extending that to the 22nd year of service.
Those things are already helping. But we need to dowe need to do more. Clearly, the quality of life, there arethere are three things that are really contributing today and will contribute in the future, and some of them we can work with today.
The first is the low production rates that we had for four years during the draw-down. We're stuck with that and we need to do the best we can with retaining the people from those low pilot accession years.
Second is the quality of life that's associated with the deployment schedules and the time away from family. You heard from the pilots in the second panel how important the challenge of aviation service is to them, what the rewards are, but they can't always compete with the family impact of operational high OPTEMPO.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Third is the booming economy. Now, the question was asked earlier, Mr. Chairman, about what percentage of the airline pilots are former military. I tell you, I think that the better question to that and why this is a concern with the national dimension is what percentage of the airline hires came from the military.
In 1992, at the height of the draw-down, 95 percent of the airline hires were from the best pilots in the world, our military aviators. In 1998, that was still at 69 percent. So that is one of the ways that, in the long term, and I don't think we can have an out-of-the-box solution that deals with all of the factors in the very short term, that's why I think some of the compensation things that we're doing, including theagain, hearing from the second panel, the triad of benefits that we're laying on the table before the Congress now.
Going back to the 50 percent, the increase in basic pay.
Mr. BUYER. All right. That's the Administration's song. You don't have to sing that to me. The plan, when do I get it? When do I get the aviator compensation plan? It's now almost a year due. When can I have it?
Mr. RUSH. Let me get you an answer to that. It will beit will be soon, sir.
Mr. BUYER. Because what I'd like to do here, if there are some hiccups, some inter-service rivalry, I don't know what the problem is, why it's been so late. I don't know that. But what I'd like to do is work with you and work with the services on the problem.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So please, I would like to know that.
I would ask this questionlet me pause for a moment. Do any of the personnel chiefs have comments based on the opening question?
General PETERSON. In regard to out-of-the-box solutions, there are a number, I think, that we're all looking at. For the Air Force, pilots are a national asset. We've worked that with the Navy, and hopefully with Senator McCain's support. We are going to try it again.
We think it would do a number of things for us. It would focus on the possibility of changing the age. We're trying to work the supply problem, change the age for commercial pilots, you have to quit at 60, to perhaps raise that age. Again, that's something that's got to be studied, I guess, by the airlines. That would relieve some pressure.
Probably the biggest is to look at our national ability to product pilots, schools like Emery Riddle, Purdue, University of North Dakota, those that have large programs for flying.
As you probably recall, some years back, Cessna and Piper, those guys almost went out of business because of the legal liability and some of them, in fact, did for a while.
So you could use the GI Bill to go for that training. There were a lot of opportunities for people to train and we created a fairly good sized pilot pool from that, and so I think going back and approaching what we can do as a nation to encourage or support aviation training in the civil sector, as well, to help relieve some of the pressure.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And, finally, cooperation between the airlines and the military. Quite honestly, as Mr. Rush said, if we took every fixed wing pilot from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army, they would be able to satisfy, if all of them got out in each cohort group, they could only fill about two thirds of the major's requirements right now.
So the demand is very substantial and I think we might be able to work on the supply piece, and that would be an important part of pilots as a national asset, I think.
Mr. BUYER. Can you comment on the up-or-out policy impact and its' particularity with pilots and whether we should give some flexibility here on if you've got thata major who says, yeah, I want to be passed over twice, because I don't want a leadership role, I don't want a staff job, but I want to fly, and he's a darn good pilot?
General PETERSON. In our case, if I can just start on that, we do have a second track. It's kind of related to the track that I like to fly and that's really in our Guard and Reserve, and they have the opportunity to fly only and also to progress.
I found, I said the same thing when I was a captain. I didn't want to do any of this stuff I'm doing right now.
But as you get up there in youryou kind of think you might like to be the fly commander. Your aspirations change a little bit. But some people don't and they would like to fly the whole period.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I'd say our answer to what the British had, which is a very good system, is our Guard and Reserve, which mirrors our active force, and we have the same opportunities then and as a result, we have a very large portion of our folks who do leave and go in the Guard and Reserve and we consider that to be a plus all the way around. We hate to lose them, but we're keeping them in the arc, and that's important.
Mr. BUYER. So you're endorsing the status quo.
General PETERSON. Yes. I'm endorsing the status quo.
Mr. BUYER. So you wouldn't say don't''We don't want to keep a major on Active Duty who wants to fly.''
General PETERSON. No. In fact, we are, sir. We've continuedall our captains and majors who are aviators who have been deferred or passed over have been offered continuation through 20 years.
Mr. BUYER. So you already have that flexibility and do that.
General PETERSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. BUYER. All right. I wasn't aware of that.
General OHLE. Sir, in the Army, our problem isn't quite as big, but we also do that. We call it selective continuation. For our Apache pilot program, we were short Apache warrant officers. We selectively continued them and right now we have 51 additional, that's half of the shortage, staying on, will continue in the present rank.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. So the one warrant officer that testified and said if I don't make W4, I'm out, isn'the could apply or how would the system work?
General OHLE. Sir, he happened to be flying a Blackhawk, but if he was an Apache pilot, he could stay on and we've asked them all to do that.
Mr. BUYER. For Apache only.
General OHLE. Yes, sir. That's the only one that we have a retention problem right now. So we vary that opportunity depending upon where our shortages are.
Mr. BUYER. Let's talk about the Navy, Admiral Oliver.
Admiral OLIVER. Sir, we've triedwe've had, a couple of times in the past, aviation pilots, we called them during Vietnam and after World War II, two-track system that was sort of built along the British line. But our culture has never really embraced it in a big way and I think that probably has to do with the seashore rotation nature of the business.
In order for most of our tactical aircraft carrier pilots, our tactical air pilots, aircraft carrier based ones, who are the ones where we're having our biggest concerns here, to continue to fly in their mission areas, they have to stay at sea continuously.
So to then roll ashore and take a shore duty billet from somebody else who is on the other track makes it kind of hard to fit in. So we've looked at it, we continue to talk about it. We'd have to change a lot of other things in order to embrace it in any large measure, but we do continue 04s to 20 years.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So from that standpoint, it seems to work.
Mr. BUYER. Same with the Corps?
General KLIMP. Sir, I think pretty close to being the same. I think you said it earlier in the other room, it's a culture thing for us. I don't think our culture would ever accept that sort of thing.
I think it was Ernie Pyle from World War II that said that the ideal battle in the eyes of a Marine was to have the enemy in front of you, Marines on the right, Marines on the left, Marine artillery in support, and Marines in reserve and Marine aviation overhead.
Because of that and because of our culture, we train, live, operate and fight as MAGTFs, Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. We are all MAGTF officers. I think I'm the only one here that's wearing the wrong kind of wings, and yet I'm talkingtrying to talk about aviation. Brigadier General Emerson N. Gardner, who is behind me, is a helicopter pilot who also commanded a MEU SOC [Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable].
It's part of our culture that we are all MAGTF officers. It's part of our culture that we serve both ground and aviation officers in both ground and aviation billets, with ground and aviation organizations.
When I commanded an infantry battalion, I had three aviators in my battalion. They were there not just to advise me on the deployment of aviation, but to teach me and their fellow officers within that battalion about how to employ air. They weren't there just to be FACs [Forward Air Control]. They were there to help teach my people to be FACs, so that they wouldn't become casualties.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
One of those aviators was my headquarters and service company commander. He is a better Marine today as a result, I believe, of that experience.
So I don't think the Marine Corps would ever accept or would ever look to as a positive program or an individual could stay or would stay in aviation for his entire career.
General OHLE. Sir, one thing the Army does, and you alluded to this earlier in the first panel, we have warrant officers, 53 percent of our aviators are warrant officers.
Some of those warrant officers get out and they don't have the opportunity because they're not qualified to fly for the airlines and want to come back. So we have an Active Recall to Active Duty Program that I think is not quite out-of-the-box, but it's sure helping our Apache shortage.
Since '97, we've brought back 108 of those aviators and we anticipate another 60 this year. So when you put that on top of the selective continuation, we will correct our Apache aviation shortage.
Mr. BUYER. One thing that we have to always be very cautious of is trying to give a solution that's going to apply to everyone. I always am very, very cautious of that. General Klimp, I appreciate your testimony. When you think about your mission with the air-land battle and where your mission is, it probably would be very difficult. So making sure that we give you the flexibility to do these kind of things is important, rather than giving you a directive.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General KLIMP. And I think one of the young officers that talked earlier mentioned it, too. Each organization that's represented at this table has a different culture and one cookie-cutter solution doesn't necessarily fit all.
I'm not sure that our aviators, even if they look at it from a purely aviation perspective, would vote for that kind of a program and I think one of our young captains said it; while that individual is in the squadron and continuing to fly, somebody else has to take up his responsibilities in those infantry battalions and they want to fly just as much as he does.
Mr. BUYER. What may work here for the Army isn't necessarily going to work for you or for the Navy or for the Air Force.
I have one last question, before I yield to Mr. Abercrombie. You sat through the testimony of the mid-career pilots and you listened to their testimony and I watched as you were taking notes of their testimony.
So I would like your comments on the record with regard to what you heard. I'll start with you, General Ohle.
General OHLE. Yes, sir. I appreciate the opportunity to comment about that because it concerns us very deeply, all their comments. We have done surveys. We have tried to get at the problem of why people get out, why aviators don't retain higher, and I think for the Army, you've got to look to both warrant officers and commissioned officers separately, but yet the problems are the same.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
You look at the intangibles, the high OPTEMPO, the high PERSTEMPO, the uncertainty, the lack of stability, those all pop up on each one of the surveys that we do. We have gone out and surveyed Apache pilots and we have the results back. Their results mirror the same surveys we're getting from our officers as we go around in our Army Research Institute to study why they leave the service.
Mr. BUYER. Would you offer that survey as part of the record here today?
General OHLE. Yes, Mr. Chairman, I'd be glad to.
[The information referred to can be found in the appendix.]
General OHLE. But it all points to the fact that it's not just one issue. It's the whole package of issues that bother our young aviators and young soldiers, and that's why they leave.
It's the deployments. It's the quality of life. It's all those issues that we heard so eloquently put by the soldiers on panel two.
Mr. BUYER. All right. Admiral Oliver.
Admiral OLIVER. Yes, sir. I appreciate the opportunity to comment. I thought our aviators gave a wonderfully eloquent description of the problem and concerns and I certainly was glad we had an opportunity to listen to them.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And in large measure, they reinforce many of the things that we're trying to work on. So it's nice to know that we're at least working on the right sort of things.
Two areas that I will comment on. One is on the production side, where the time to train an aviator is taking us too long in the Naval service, three and a half years to train a jet pilot from his accession to the time he gets to the fleet is much too long, and that's one of the reasons they're coming up against limitations on how much of the bonus they can qualify for.
So we've been working that very aggressively for the last year. We've got a working group in place with a contractor and trying to reduce the time to train and reduce the pools that we have in our production pipeline. But it will take until the end of next year to work out the current kinks in the system and get a smooth sort of pipeline in place, and I mean toward the end of '01. It just takes a while to have all of this work.
Some of these problems were exacerbated by problems we had with equipment, the T2 (training) problem that we had that slowed down the pipeline for about six months, and then also mismatches between inventory anda lot of inventories and resources and people coming in and instructors in place, most of which were artifacts of the turbulence of the draw-down and decommissioning some communities and trying to transition people back and forth, to try to take care of as many as we could.
So we've got no shortage of management areas in the production side, but our goal is to knock at least a year off of each of the pipelines that are in excess of what they should be.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But it's a concern and it really affects our young people's motivation in the beginning of their Naval aviation service.
On the retention side, the choke point for Naval aviation is the department head tour in terms of requirements. How many aviators do we need? We need to access enough so that based on our models that show a certain amount of attrition, we keep enough of them to get through the department head tour.
If we're able to do that and man our department head seats, historically we've been able to have enough aviators to man all of the other requirements that we have for aviators.
Right now we don't have enough of those. We're about 500 pilots short of about 8,500 pilots that we have on board now. I'm including all student aviators, too, and so that includes all the 13-XX, we call them, designators.
So that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the problem. On the Naval flight officer side, we are about 170 short of about 4,500 NFO [Naval Flag Officers]. Many of the NFOs can manmany of the aviation jobs that are not strictly manipulating aircraft controls can be populated by either a pilot or an NFO. They're interchangeable.
So that ameliorates the problem to some extent when your NFO shortage is not as much as the aviationas the pilot side of it.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But whether you're a pilot or an NFO, the dissatisfiers are basically all the same and they were expressed this morning, spare parts, flying hours, OPTEMPO, these things are hard to justify, when life is hard in the first place. Naval careerNaval aviation is very exciting, very stimulating, very demanding and very rewarding, and it can also be much too hard, much too onerous, it can be unpredictable and it can be dredgerous.
And to the extent that we can address the dissatisfiers that make it those latter things, we're trying to do that. We have a Chief of Naval Operations who is a fighter pilot, who is acutely attuned to the concerns on the deck plate and in the hangar, hangar decks, and has directed us to fully fund our readiness accounts.
We started in FY '99, as you are aware, and with your help, we made a significant effort into getting money into spare parts and into O&M Navy [Operations and Maintenance] to go into maintenance. We fully funded our flying program and in 00, in our budget, we work off the backlogs in both aviation spares and our O&M Navy to maintenance, to the best that we can articulate the real requirements.
So we've got active task forces at the leadership level in the Navy working on those kinds of dissatisfiers.
We have also been able to address, with your help, some other dissatisfiers, one of our aviators mentionedLieutenant Commander Smith mentioned the smart per diem that went away. That was a dumb thing we were doing and we quit doing it.
We were able to putto get rid of the PCS shortfalls that we had and there are some other things that we can do.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Some things we can't do is make very valuable assets irresistible to the fleets. The E2 community, represented by Lieutenant Commander Smith, is one of our highest OPTEMPO communities. They're also one of the ones in which we're experiencing some of our lowest retention.
Their tasking comes largely from the national command authority. The truth is, between deployments, the turnaround between deployments has reduced from the cold war stable of about 24 to 27 months to less than two years, sometimes as low as 19 to 20 months. You've still got to fit into that turnaround cycle all of the demanding training evolutions that it takes to pull that complex team together to go deploy on board an aircraft carrier and do that safely, which they do magnificently.
But we do that in a shorter, more compressed time-frame now and that's difficult and onerous. We're trying to make that as a predictable as we can, which the CNO has directed a 25 percent reduction in self-generated at-home in between deployment cycle requirements, and we're doing our best to try to relieve the burden on our troops.
But the truth is, Naval aviation is in huge demand and I don't know that I haveI certainly don't have a silver bullet for the OPTEMPO solution right away.
Mr. BUYER. When the pilots testified about OPSTEMPO, is part of thatwould it be fair for me to include the difficulty of career management? There's the schooling, for example, and joint assignments.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General OHLE. Yes, sir, absolutely.
Mr. BUYER. You didn't mention that, but I
General OHLE. Yes, sir. If we didn't have other things for our officers to do, to keep them upwardly mobile, then it would be easier to man the aviation billets. Now, what we're doing is we're manning the cockpit seats. Then we man as many of the other aviation, pure aviation billets as we can, and then we also man aviation's share of the other billets, the war colleges and the graduate schools and major staffs and that sort of thing, where you can.
Some of that is dictated by the requirements to make folks promotable.
Mr. BUYER. Does it cause any problemssorry, Mr. Abercrombie. Does it cause any further problems in the Navy if they get a littleif Naval aviation gets a little special treatment and you end upsome of these school assignments or joint assignments are taken from a surface fleet or submarine, does it cause some friction within the Navy?
Admiral OLIVER. Yes, sir, it does. You get sort of a delayed reaction. I'm reminded occasionally that most junior submariners, JO [Junior Officer] submariners would rather drive submarines than do anything else. So this is not uniquely an aviation problem, that they don't have all the wherewithal to do all of the things they want to do.
But what I'm concerned about, what we're going to have here in the next few years, just because of the lower accession year groups that we brought in earlier, our aviators are not going to have the luxury of being able to do as many rounding out tours as they would like. So if we don't carefully manage this, and I mean carefully manage, I mean detail them carefully and then remind our institution over the next decade that aviators in these particular year groups didn't have the opportunities that some of their better manned communities might have, we could end up a decade from now with not many aviators who are in a position to compete for senior leadership jobs.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Lieutenant Commander Smith testified and brought up the issue on leadership and I guess one of the inherent ingredients of leadership is trust and if there is no honesty in the system and you're only sending me away for 56 days so I don't have to call it a deployment and, therefore, it doesn't count, is that really honesty in the system?
Doesn't that begin to erode the inherent trust in leadership?
Admiral OLIVER. Yes, sir. That kind of thing could, depending on how it's understood, used and articulated.
Mr. BUYER. Is this used properly or is this being misused? What's happening?
Admiral OLIVER. I wouldn't want to sayit's like any other metric that you have. We run right up against it. It's just like our C1 and C2 metrics that you and I have discussed.
If you have some leeway, people are going to go to the limits of the leeway just because everybody's busy and that's the way the world works.
The Navy has had OPTEMPO guidelines in place since the mid 1980's. The OPTEMPO guidelines are basically surrogates for individual PERSTEMPO. They track units and not individuals, and that was probably because we didn't have any mechanisms in that time. The technology wasn't there to track individuals.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And so we had these OPTEMPO, PERSTEMPO guidelines in place that we tracked very carefully, and there are limits on them. For instance, you deploy 6 months, porthole to porthole, and no more. You must be home twice as long as you have been gone if you've deployed.
How long is a deployment? OK. Deployment is over 60 days. If you deploy 60 days, now you have to be home for twice that length of time before you can go again. When you're home, you can only be away one50 percent of the days of the entire time you're at home.
So really what we have is an accounting scheme here to try to not over-burden our folks, but like any other scheme, depending on how you score the points, it can be used against you.
It was never designed very well for deploying squadron, aircraft squadron and detachments. Quite frankly, as well as we try to use it, so to make sure that over time it keeps up, it doesn't work very well, particularly in the E2 community it doesn't work well or any other aviation detaching kind of group.
That's one of the reasons that we are working with the joint staff and the other services and trying to develop individual PERSTEMPO tracking mechanisms so that we can do better with these kinds of things.
But there is no intent to try to trick our people to use a system to abuse that system.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BUYER. So you can't see it, through their perceptive, how that would be an erosion of trust? Would it not?
Admiral OLIVER. No question. I still see it that way.
Mr. BUYER. All right.
Admiral OLIVER. It has its limitations.
Mr. BUYER. I'd like to continue this conversation with you, though, at another point.
Admiral OLIVER. The only thing I will say is I do not think any other way of accounting for this particular community'swhether they're away from home or not, would change the demand on their services under the current tasking. They are a very, very busy community.
Mr. BUYER. All right. Mr. Rush, I'm going to go to General Peterson and General Klimp, and then I'll let you wrap up the opening question.
General PETERSON. Yes, sir. In regard to the question about panel two, I thought they did an excellent job. I agree with what they said. I think that we understand those problems and we are concerned about them.
Obviously, it fits into that category of a complex number of solutions. In fact, we talked about this before with the two officers from our service that there are a number of small things that we are trying to do all around the margins here.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I think what we see coming hopefully in this Congress and this year is an opportunity to make some larger improvements and, with the support of the committee and Congress, I think we'll do that.
From the out-of-the-box solutions that you asked about earlier, sir, we have a program called Phoenix Aviator, which we're trying to support our folks who are worried about having an opportunity to go to the airlines. So we give them an opportunity to get their flight engineer and ATP [Air Transport Pilot] rating, back to the cockpit in their last two years, so they're current, physical and also contact with 19 airlines who are cooperating with us right now to offer interviews, which is one of those small things, but it may help us a bit in that area there.
We are using the bonus, working a proposal right now for our ARC [Air Reserve Component] full-timers, our Guard and Reserve, because we are having retention problems with those, as well.
We support the extension of the bonus past the 14-year point, we think that's really important, especially today, as we see the dynamics change in our force and the initiatives that were made relating to thrift savings I think is a very positive alternative, as well.
We are using our ARC. There was some discussion on panel one that I don't think squared away. We use our Guard and Reserve right now on the Navy model and relieving our Active Duty pilots in the training command. We've got about 225 of those right now in the training command and growing toward 300.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our Guard units areif you looked at our fighter force, it's 13 wings of active and seven Guard and we look at that as kind of a total force.
We have a Guard unit who does foreign military sales training for us and also does operational training for us in F16s and other aircraft.
So those arethat's another one and trying to work the staff, we've reduced our staff, we've reduced our force by about seven and a half percent, reduced our staff by about fourteen and a half percent, and we, like the Navy, are drawing down our staff as opposed to our field, so we can maintain the combat capability and training capability, but there is a limit to how far we can go before we have to start drawing down in the field somewhat.
Nonetheless, one of the challenges that we have is those valid billets which we think are valid, we've been through a number of scrubs and reductions in our overhead staff, our rated staff, but one of the options we have is to contract people with experience to do those staff jobs. That's a limited ability to do that.
An even better one, which was offered as an amendment to the S.4 bill, was to give us relief on the dual compensation rule. We have a lot of really talented folks who leave our Air Force as aviators, who come back and work as simulator instructors and platform instructors and academics. They do a wonderful job. We could use that same type individual to come back in and work in our staffs, both overseas and here in the states, with their experience, actual aviation experience. Right now there is a penalty to that because they have tothey can't take their retirement and civil service. In fact, we probably pay contractors more than we'd pay them, giving them both civil service and their retirement.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So we think that's a good amendment that's been put forward and we support it and we're looking for that as another alternative for us.
Those are some of the out-of-the-box areas that we're working through.
Mr. BUYER. Major Goodwyn testified that his number dealt with funding. You didn't comment on that. Flying hours, spare parts, and the cannibalization rate.
General PETERSON. Yes, sir. He is right about all of those, all three of those. Now, we have plus fundingwe reprogrammed the '97, '98 and '99. Our Chief has testified it will probably take us about a year to actually see that money turned into parts and falling into the units themselves, but we have internally reprogrammed. We do have a top line limit, as all organizations do.
Within that, I think that we have re-prioritized for readiness somewhere in the order of about six to seven billion dollars, if you take our '97, '98 and '99. And that was a reprogramming of those resources.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you. General Klimp.
General KLIMP. Sir, I wouldn't be doing my job for you or for my Corps here if I didn't attempt to put this in perspective this morning, and I'd like to try to do that by reading a couple of short paragraphs from an e-mail that I received recently from a Master Sergeant Cowen. Master Sergeant Cowen is the maintenance chief for HMM265 reinforced.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
On a recent deployment, he had a detachment of six aviates from VMA311 attached to his squadron. What I would like to read to you here is a couple quick paragraphs that Master Sergeant Cowen sent to those Marines upon their detachment from HMM265.
He says, ''Marines, I am sorry that I was not able to say these words to you before I left and to also thank you for what you have done for the Marine Corps and also myself. Now that you are home, there will be plenty of time to reflect on the previous 10 months of your Marine Corps career.'
''If you think of that time as a negative thing, then all of your accomplishments in the past 10 months will mean nothing to you. I wish you could just realize how much you have motivated, inspired and given immense pride to one master sergeant. What you have done with a handful of Marines, six jets, and a whole lot of esprit de corps, was prove to the world that the Marine Corps is still an elite organization and hasn't changed one bit.'
''In my 21-plus years in this organization, I have never seen a better display of patriotism, dedication, positive attitude and unit cohesion that you displayed during your time with us here at HMM265 reinforced.'
''Gentlemen, you should always think of your deployment as one of the most positive things in your life. Granted, it wasn't always a bed of roses. This is not a perfect world. The world will always need the Marine Corps as long as there are people like Saddam Hussein. In turn, the Marine Corps will always need men like you, men who can be called upon to ensure that the world will be a better place for us all.'
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
''No, don't think of your deployment in a negative light. It will rob the rest of us of the pride you instilled. Those of us who helped protect, motivate, and inspire are all better Marines because of you. I am proud to say that I have served with each and every one of you. I can also assure you that the Marines in this command and myself personally will never forget what you have done for us, our corps, and our country.'
''I wish you God's good grace in all of your endeavors. You have all earned the right to carry your heads a little bit higher than the rest. Remember, you are the future of our Corps and I am totally convinced that the Marine Corps still has a few good men.'
''Good luck and enjoy your well deserved return back home.''
Now, that does not specifically address pilot retention, but it speaks volumes for the leadership and the morale within both our helicopter squadrons and our fixed wing squadrons. I think that is reflected by recent visits that the Commandant of the Marine Corps made to both east coast and west coast ground and aviation units, where he talked to Marines about the issues that they are facing out there.
His reflection to me was that morale is sky high. In one particular case, he got up at 0.30 in the morning and walked the light line with the Marines on a FOD [Foreign Object Damage] inspection. He asked those Marines, what's bothering you, what are your problems out here. This was with an aviation squadron.
And their responses echoed those of our two young captains today. They were all operationally oriented. They said we need more flight time, we need more spare parts, we need more ordnance to drop on the targets.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In the aggregate, the Marine Corps has the number of pilots we're required. We've got our pilots out there. We are recruiting the number of pilot trainees that we need.
Our Helicopter pilot retention rates reflect our historic norms. Where we are experiencing losses greater than we would like are in those communities of the two young men, the two young captains belong to that you talked to earlier.
Mr. BUYER. Has funding been increased?
General KLIMP. Yes, sir, and I was going to get to that, but absolutely, and because of that funding increase and because of the support of Congress, we are beginning to see an improvement in those communities.
Mr. BUYER. Secretary Rush.
Mr. RUSH. Mr. Chairman, one thing that I heard both from the second panel and from my colleagues here, two things. One, truly, in this area, one size does not fit all and there is no silver bullet on this issue.
Secondly, with regard to the aviation continuation pay, I mentioned the one part that I heard, we need to do something to have a pay that doesn't stop at the 14th year of service.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other part, I will have to say, was the difference in between one member and another in the way the current program is applied and I can tell you the services already recognize that and have changed their application.
I was pleased to hear from the second panel about that they were aware of the Redux proposal and that that was an important thing to them. That relates to the thrift savings plan, because we're not more than three or four years away from discussions of cutting military retirement rather than restoring its value to where we believe it should be.
And the concern within the Department, with the services about whether a thrift savings plan, I will tell you frankly, wasthat someone would suggest that that would be a substitute for part of the basic retirement benefit that every member is entitled to and would somehow end up in reducing that benefit.
I heard what the members said in response to your question about whether it would be good to be able to shelter not only the aviation bonus, but the enlisted bonus, and I think that's an important point that comes through and their answer, of course, was positive on that.
Finally, military medicine is a very important subject and I heard and will take back the comments on TRICARE. But I can tell you, at the same time, that those comments have been heard and that the Department is working as hard as they're working on anything in order to make military medicine work for members and dependents.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you. Mr. Abercrombie.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I won't ask any individual. If you could just, as you will, answer or make observations, I'd be grateful.
I'm going to try and tie in what the Chairman has been talking about and meld it in with some of the options that have come up today.
Obviously, one of the elements is this fly only career track and I think people have commented on it, but I want to follow up with perhaps a little more detail, and you can help us with this.
I think that in the future, in the near future, there is going to be a greatly expanded role for Guard and Reserve in the context of, say, the steady-state draw-down numbers that are here. In other words, there will be an increasing role, an expanding role for guard and reserve, particularly in the post cold war world.
This hearing is not the time to expound on the philosophy or theory behind that, but if you'll accept, for the conversation sake, that Guard and Reserve are going to play a more prominent role and that we have to, therefore, take into account how we structure that, do youand I've heard some discussion about this from you and from the others.
I would like to have a little bit more in-depth observation about the role of an expanded Guard and Reserve with respect to the idea of having experienced pilots available, not necessarily in the service, per se, but nonetheless still connected by way of Guard and Reserve activity.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Would that be a way of dealing with the situation if we presume that the steady-state that now exists after the draw-down can, of itself, help to resolve questions about promotion and such?
General KLIMP. I guess I'll kick it off, sir. Our Reserves are, as you know, already fully integrated into the total force and they are working hard around the world, assisting in the accomplishment of Marine Corps missions.
Specifically for aviation, I sit as a member of the aviation QMB, quality management board. I talked about the one area where we are experiencing losses greater than we would like and that's primarily the fixed wing and within that, primarily the aviate organization or community.
One of the things we're looking at doing is going to our Reserves and hiring Reserve officers, if you will, to come back on duty for periods of, on a contract, for periods of up to maybe 3 years to fill billets like training billets at the training centers.
So I think there is an opportunity to expand even more.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. This question that's been raised about flying and non-flying jobs, would thatis that addressing that?
General KLIMP. To a degree, yes, sir, but it's to free up the active Duty pilots to go on and do those flying and non-flying jobs, and put experienced pilots in the training centers. That's one of the things that we're looking at and one of the ways we're looking at perhaps employment Reserves.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Again, our attempts have been to target the specific area where we are experiencing the difficulty.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. And now more Reserve and Guard call-ups are being made in this deployment question, right? The likelihood of Guard and Reserve call-ups for extended periods of time, as opposed to merely duty, so much training time, the classic kind of idea that, well, yes, you're on the weekends and there's a couple of weeks out of the year, and it didn't occur to people for a long time that, guess what, you're going to Bosnia, and your employment questions, your family questions, all the rest of it, the civilian employment area is going to have to acknowledge, yes, I'm going away for a while, and this may happen more than once.
So what I'm thinking about is that if that's going to be the case, you've got to have people that are up to combat-ready in a lot of different ways.
I'm not saying that necessarily you would have your first line pilots right now, Active Duty pilots, be displaced or supplemented, even necessarily out of reserve or guard, but I would think that if we go through with this and expect to deal with the deployment question that brought up by every single service, by pilots in every single service, we're going to have to have a force structure change, aren't we, with regard to the Guard and Reserve?
Isn't there going to have to be an emphasis, a dollar emphasis and a programmatic emphasis by the Congress in conjunction with your military decisions where the Guard and Reserve are concerned, if this isn't just going to be a little verbal side light that I'm engaged in?
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In other words, if we say, oh, there's going to be an increased role for the Guard and Reserve and, having said that, we then shut down our thought processes and the implications of that. Because if there is going to be an increased role for the Guard and Reserve, that means you're going to have put money behind it, we're going to have to think about how it's structured, we're going to have to think about what the transition difficulties and implications are.
Admiral OLIVER. Mr. Abercrombie, certainly on the Naval Air Reserve side, there are places where it's important that we provide support to our Reserves, because, for instance, the VR [logistics squadron] or the transportation function in Naval aviation is entirely a reserve mission and if they are not supported and funded and manned and given the wherewithal that they need to do that, then we're out of slips, because we don't have an Active Duty side that does that mission.
Then the other Reserves, as well, adversary squadrons, for instance, are entirely done by Reserve.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. You get fueling questions, the Air Force, right?
General PETERSON. Yes, sir. We're reorganizing our expeditionary forces and one of the things we're trying to do there is take advantage of our Guard and Reserve even more by establishing a more predictable schedule, and that allows our Guard and Reserve folks to work with their employers in advance, say a year in advance, and consolidate the whole squadron and get a larger size unit that's able to go and take a deployment at one time.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I won't go further with it today, because we could be here the rest of the afternoon, but this is a question that I think is going toor it presents a whole series of questions that we really don't have a firm grip on yet in terms of where we're going to go and what policy should be.
But my instincts tell me, after listening to all of this, that we're going to have to figure out exactly what the role is and what that means in terms of where we put money and how we structure it, so that it doesn't become a competition or something of that nature.
But do you all agree that this is an area that we've got to do some more consideration, give some more consideration to?
Mr. RUSH. Mr. Abercrombie, I would just say on that, I can give two examples. One, the one Army, the Army has put a tremendous amount of effort into the way that it brings its Guard and Reserve and active components together, how that's researched and how they can work and train together.
On the other hand, the Air Force has always had a well integrated active Guard and Reserve. In the Air Force, as General Peterson has said, they have, in the last decade, learned how to do the things that they had thought they were doing just as well as could be done much better and much smarter.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Okay. What about the question of enlisted aviators?
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
General PETERSON. I could take that for the Air Force, sir. I think oftentimes there is a misnomer out there, and I think this is true foror misunderstanding, and it's true for the other services, I believe, as well. But in the case of the Air Force, we don't have a problem with having people who want to come to pilot training and become aviators.
And so our problem is how many can we produce and how many can we absorb in the operational units, and that's where we've tried to max out our production. But it's not a matter of having people who want to come to fly, officers who want to come in and fly, and they come to us with a college education when they come in. So we're fortunate in that respect.
There could be a problem, I think, as some other services said, we have some warrant officers and we have some enlisted who come back and go into, when they finish their degree and come into pilot training, we have a number of those right now. Mustangers, we call them, and they're doing very well.
But it's not a demand problem for us. There could be a problem, I suspect, on warrant officers and fixed wing because of the pay differentials. I would suspect that the draw of the airlines would even be more substantial for them than it is even our officers today.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Anybody else on that?
General OHLE. We have the warrant officer program, as I said earlier, and we think that isthat type of program where we put officers into positions for fly only, 97 percent of the warrant officers do nothing but fly in the cockpit. There's very few out of it.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And then our lieutenants and non-branch qualified captainsin other words, those captains that have not commanded a company, have cockpit-only jobs and it's not until after you go to the advanced course and get higher military education do you then take leadership positions and get into the command and staff jobs.
So we think we meet the intent of that fly only policy.
Admiral OLIVER. I want to second what my colleagues have said, because I wouldn't want my statement to stand alone, but in addition to that, certainly, from Naval aviators, we like to say that we're Naval officers first and aviators second.
It's a lot more than just flying an airplane to be a Naval aviator. It's manipulating the controls of an aircraft, yes, but it's doing it in the context of a war-fighting expeditionary machine, along with other aircraft and other war-fighting platforms in a strategy that does a whole heck of a lot more than just fly.
So Naval officers who become Naval aviators have aspirations, as well as demands, that cause them to come in and do that. For those who want to come in in order to then go and become airline pilots, because that's the end-all be-all of their aspiration, that's fine and there are a number that do that.
But I think that if we built a cadre similar to what General Peterson said of folks who came in and their rewards basically were you get flight time and not much else, and that's what they were in it for, they would probably be more likely to leave in larger numbers than the folks who come in it for lots more reasons than just to fly airplanes.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. That's a good point. I appreciate that. Mr. Chairman, that's all I have. Thank you very much.
Mr. BUYER. Thank you, Mr. Abercrombie. I know you gentlemen have to leave to go testify before another subcommittee, but I want to address one last question.
First, before I move to that, Admiral Oliver, I would like to have a follow-up conversation with you and this is what the point is going to be.
It's on the fleet manning situation. You commented on it a little bit earlier. I'm still rather uncomfortable. I want to know if you have to take any kind ofany measures or extreme measures to meet the fleet manning requirements, whether it's extended tours, back-to-back deployments, gaps in other critical or non-flying billets.
And if you're taking these extreme measures, what effect are these measures having on other fleet requirements and readiness, and are we creating a future problem there. Finally, what is the risk in terms of the readiness and safety and capability in conducting future operations?
Admiral OLIVER. Sir, I'd welcome the opportunity.
Mr. BUYER. I'd like to follow that up with you. I am bothered by this 56 days, not counting it as a deployment, when you know they're counting it as a deployment. So I'd like to work through that with you.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
During our hearing last Thursday, Mr. Abercrombie asked two questions on concerns about leadership in the force. The service personnel chiefs, each of you, replied that leadership issue is not a problem.
The second question dealt with the problem of junior officers who don't want to stay in the military because they see senior officers, such as yourself, working very long hours and they say, wait a minute, I'm not so certain I want that.
And I know that, General Peterson, I'm sure that you read the ''Dear Boss'' letter from Air Force pilots, and so I'd like you to comment on the ''Dear Boss'' letter. And, Admiral Oliver, I know you've read similar letters from Naval aviators.
I would like you to know, when I hear these questions about leadership, I am not narcissistic. I'm sensitive to it, also. So when I hear it about leadership, I don't think it ends just with you. I have a responsibility to play, the subcommittee has a responsibility to play in this equation.
So I am very sensitive to it. So I don't read that by meaning, Okay, that gives me an opportunity or the subcommittee an opportunity to be critical of you, because we're in this one together.
But I'd appreciate your comments, because I'm concerned about this letter.
General PETERSON. I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman, and your comments just prior. It's interesting. I have a very good friend who now is a general officer, as well, who, when we were captains, wrote the first ''Dear Boss'' letter in 1977.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BUYER. Did you sign it?
General PETERSON. No. I wasn't in his outfit at the time, but I could have. In fact, I receivedI went to my first staff job under duress and I got a letter from 13 captains that said the similar thing, and I told my boss, and he said the Chief of Staff wanted to know if this was true, and I told him absolutely; I was in an outfit six months ago.
And it is true, there are a lot of frustrations. To directly address that letter, I would say probably about 50 to 70 percent of that I think is true. It reflects the frustrations that our young people have.
I have mixed emotions about it because I'm proud that they are that concerned about their service and their service to their country to take the opportunity and the time to write, and they also do that realizing this may not be the smartest thing.
I think the senior leadership who has walked through this path one time before, who grew out of that post-Vietnam area, saying we'd never want this to happen to us again, have a lot in common with those that are writing those letters.
I also am, as I said the other day, frustrated that we are working these hours, but I say my answer to that is just what I saw when I was a captain in those earlier years.
I had great respect for my commanders and leaders who stayed the course because it was their Air Force or their service that was undergoing a great deal of duress and stress, and certainly our service is today and there is no one that's going to come in here and fly us out of this, other than our own leadership and our people.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
With your support and the committee's, I think we will eventually get out of there. But one thing we don't get to do is pick the times we're in or the stresses we have, but we do ask our leaders to step forward when the times are like this and it's very difficult and we do a lot of things. We try to stay home and do e-mail before we come in the office. We try not to show up. But we flunk in that because there is a great deal of work to do right now in getting our services through these times.
I don't see an alternative to getting around that. I see it as a core responsibility. What we have to do is make every effort, so that someone else following us doesn't have to do that.
Mr. BUYER. Admiral Oliver.
Admiral OLIVER. Yes, sir. Thanks. First of all, let me note that I was quoted as saying I thought leadership was not a problem, because that doesn't characterize what I thought I said.
Mr. BUYER. Then the record is corrected.
Admiral OLIVER. Thank you. I had the embarrassing opportunity not too long ago to go visit my boyhood home and was given a stack of letters, some of which I had written when I was junior officer to my parents.
And I don't remember having that perspective, but it's a lot different than the perspective I would have now, if I hadn't read those letters. A lot of it was impugning the leadership at the time for things that I didn't understand.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I do think that, as I said last time, when people criticize leadership, what they're criticizing is anybody in the chain of command north of the last person they trust.
So it never occurred to me that it stopped at me just because I'm not very far north on that chain of command. So I think that all of us have some responsibility for the perceptions of leadership and I think, like General Peterson said, part of it is the times we inherit.
Most of our people in the service today have never been in a Navy that wasn't downsizing, or in any of the services, for that matter, and they've only known downsizing, they've only known an organization sending signals like we're going out of business.
And so it's not surprising at all to me that they think that leadership doesn't get it, because they see an economy on the outside that's the best in the world and they feel like they have a right to, and I agree with them that they have a right to share in its rewards.
So we need to send signals, in my view, that this is a growth industry. We have the finest services in the world and I think we ought to start acting like it and showing manifesting the fact that there is a great future for people and it's not going to be a constant never-ending series of reorganizations and decommissionings and going away and perturbations of that sort.
So I think that's a lot of where this leadership business comes from.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The only other thing I would say with regard to the Navy is that for many years, as you're well aware, we have been living in the wake of Tailhook and as a reaction to Tailhook, we had to look at our culture and we had to look at a lot of values, and we probably bent the twig too far, because there is no question we havewe now have in our Navy a perception of a culture of zero defect, which the current Secretary of the Navy is trying to address aggressively.
And I can tell you, as the Chief of Naval Personnel, he has given me much wider discretion than I've ever had to adjudicate cases at a much lower level for promotion boards and other things. And so it's going to, I think, go a long way to dealing with people a lot differently.
So those are two tangible ways that I think we can deal with this leadership perception problem.
Mr. BUYER. I did not mind at all mentioning during the impeachment trial for the Senate that this stigma of Tailhook with the Senate still looking for anyone who was within a 100 miles of that convention site is a career terminator, and at some point in time, that shadow has to cease.
That's just my opinion, Secretary Rush, but it's very real.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your testimony. Thank you, Secretary Rush, for coming.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The prepared statements of Honorable Rush, General Ohle, Admiral Oliver, General Peterson, and General Klimp, can be found in the appendix.]
[Whereupon, at 2:05 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
March 4, 1999
[This information is pending.]