On Dec. 12, the Black Knights of the U.S. Military Academy and the Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy will play their 116th football game against each other. For some service members, especially members of the officer corps, this weekend is the military’s game day to beat all game days. If you’ll be one of many Americans watching the game, Task & Purpose’s Joe Ruzicka has a great rundown of what you can expect. However, if you’re a service member who isn’t an alum of either academy, then like me, you might not feel compelled to watch this, or any, matchup between the service academies.
Reforming the military’s retirement system is currently a hot topic in our nation’s capital. Both the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act include proposals for retirement reform; the joint chiefs have weighed in; and the Department of Defense released a white paper last week outlining its position on the reforms. These proposals consist of two main courses of action: matching Thrift Savings Plan contributions for all service members similar to those available to what civilian government employees receive under the Federal Employee Retirement System, and a reduction in the multiplier used to calculate retirement pay after 20 years.
Today is an interesting time for military recruitment. The number of military personnel on active duty is at one of the lowest points in living memory, which means that it is important for each branch to find and retain the right people. Currently, the effort to do so seems to center around monetary compensation, either in the form of cash bonuses or educational funding. The deal is simple: do a job the military needs you to do, where and when the military needs you to do it, and the military will reward you. Unfortunately, trends such as the expansion of the Air Force's Aviator Retention Pay program in the year after a drawdown suggest that the deal is not working. But if money isn't enough to fill critical positions in the military, what would be? I think the answer can be found in responding to all of the wants and needs of people in uniform. Here are three ways the Department of Defense can do this better.