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Thirty-eight years ago Sunday, after nine months of waiting, we finally had the great delight of meeting our firstborn, Austin Bennett Tice.
Today, we wish we could remind him of how glad we are he was born, how blessed we are to be his parents, how truly we believe the world is a better place for having him in it.
But we can't do that; Austin is detained in Syria. We are not allowed any contact with him.
Sunday is his 2,554th day of detention.
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.
There are all sorts of reasons why the U.S. military enlisting 16 year olds (which means actually recruiting them at 15, 14, even 13 years old) is a bad idea.
Just to name five:
'Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line' shows the military's blatant disregard for rape victims
Editor's note: "Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line" is a fierce and jarring telling of one woman's experience of war, military sexual trauma and her ensuing PTSD, and working to prove herself in the male-dominated world of the U.S. Army.
'We were treated like second-class citizens' — a female Marine reflects on her two decades of service
Jackie Huber was one of the few, but she never felt particularly proud as a woman Marine.
She spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, from 1984 to 2004, and rose from the enlisted ranks to chief warrant officer. She worked in MISSO, the Manpower Information System Support Office, entering data about service members at installations on the East and West coasts. She volunteered for the same duty in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope and lived in a sand-filled camp that smelled of dirt and death.
Huber said it wasn't cool to be a Marine during most of her tenure, which was before the days military members were thanked for their service. Some of the men she worked with made it clear they looked upon women as more trouble than they were worth—unless they needed someone to sleep with, Huber said.
"We were treated like second-class citizens, and we had few rights and fewer advocates," Huber said. "That's why I didn't want anyone to know what I had done. I didn't wanted to be treated like that anymore."
The U.S. Army will always face challenges recruiting the soldiers it needs, but an uphill battle is no excuse not to strive to do better —or learn from other countries' modernization efforts.