Sample Essay On Retention Problem In The US Air Force
Plans of downsizing the U.S. military have drawn much attention recently and yet it is quite ironic that a major segment of the military is experiencing personnel shortage. Since 2011, the United States government has shown their intention of reducing the number of military service men. The plan is to shrink down the number of military personnel from approximately 514,000 soldiers and gradually trim the numbers to 490,000 by October 2015 until it reaches the planned number of 450,000 soldiers by 2019. The Army is the most affected segment of the military restructuring as a result of the planned downsizing. Just recently, 550 Army majors including those that are serving in Afghanistan are expected to be forced to leave the service. But despite the massive downsizing of the US military especially in the army, the United States Air Force is critical of their manpower. Two years earlier, it was reported that United States Air Force (USAF) have a pilot shortage and is offering retention bonuses of up to $225,000 in order to keep their best officers.
In 2014, the USAF personnel demographics include 309,339 air force personnel in active duty; 61,283 of which are officers while 248,056 are enlisted personnel. While this number may seem sizeable, in a study conducted by Taylor and Moore, indicated that the USAF is facing the largest pilot shortage in peacetime history. According to their study, it is estimated that the USAF is currently suffering a shortage of more than 15% of its pilot population requirement. Several reasons have been indicated why the USAF have been encountering pilot shortages for the past years. One of the major reasons for leaving is the excellent employment opportunities in the private sector. As observed, the Air Force has been losing unprecedented numbers of experienced pilots, who are leaving at the end of their initial active duty service in order to fly commercial airlines that offer a more lucrative salary not to mention a safer working environment. Reasons such as leadership, job satisfaction and career advancement are also among the major factors that causes retention issues in the Air Force.
In the face of pilot shortages, most people are questioning whether the USAF has made adequate strategies to address the problem. Evidently, in the face of intensive competition from the private sector, the government or USAF in particular, should find a way to meet or exceed private offers for them to be able to retain a significant number of their pilots. As mentioned earlier, among the steps that were taken to address the retention problem of USAF is to offer their pilots retention bonuses. According to Griffin, the Aviator Retention Program would offer pilots $25,000 every year in order to entice pilots to stay. The government is also planning to force private companies to raise their qualifications, obviously to discourage USAF pilots from applying towards private airlines. Even so, the monetary aspect of the job, while significant, is not the only reason why pilots stay. As observed, pilot fatigue from being deployed in war zones as well as being sequestered or not being able to fly are also major reasons for leaving. Also, conniving private companies to raise their qualification requirements unreasonably is quite unrealistic in the face of a capitalist world economy. The government, specifically the USAF should do better and initiate concrete strategies that does not only address the economic needs of their personnel but also addresses the over-all job satisfaction of their personnel especially their pilots.
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Associated Press. (2014, August). Army to force out 550 majors; some to get news while in Afghanistan. Retrieved November 2014, from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/02/army-to-force-out-550-majors-some-to-get-news-while-in-afghanistan/
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Griffin, J. (2013, February). Air Force, facing fighter pilot shortage, offers retention bonuses of up to $225,000. Retrieved March 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/26/air-force-facing-fighter-pilot-shortage-offers-retention-bonuses-up-to-225000/
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Taylor, W., & Moore, C. (2015). RAND Study Addresses Air Force Pilot Shortage. Retrieved 2015 March, from http://www.rand.org/: http://www.rand.org/natsec_area/products/afpilot.html