Editor's Note: The following op-ed is written by an active-duty Marine aviator. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
"Lat[eral] moves for [all aviators] to become a MARSOC [Special Operations Officer] are not being approved" at this time, the email from the Monitor said, adding that "[Inter-Service Transfers] for [any aviator] to any branch, to include the USCG, are not being approved [at this time]."
The email was just the latest restriction on aviators, and the next round of Headquarters Marine Corps' (HQMC) ineffective strategy for dealing with a critical shortage of company grade aviators in the Marine Corps.
The Air Force has garnered most of the attention regarding pilot shortages over the past few years, but it's hardly unique to their service, as the entire military is struggling to keep its aviators in the midst of an airline hiring frenzy and a strong economy. For years, the pilot shortage was attributed to Obama-era sequestration, aging platforms, and a lack of sufficient flight time.
But there is a more significant contributor to this shortage: mismanagement of pilots due to unwritten rules of the aviation promotion system.
Unfortunately for the Corps, company grade aviators catch on to these rules early, and flight school cannot produce enough new pilots to balance the inevitable exodus of captains. If this exodus is not effectively addressed, our ability to fight from the air could be critically compromised in a way that will take decades from which to recover.