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Retirees: Don't stand in front of Admiral Mullen...

...at the Pentagon Bus Stop.
Mullen: Personnel, Health Costs 'Not Sustainable'
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Sept. 22, 2011 - Acknowledging that changes are needed to deal with unsustainable personnel costs, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized here last night that the United States can't break faith with military members and their families.

President Barack Obama recommended this week that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction form a commission to come up with a plan for a new, future retirement system, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

That commission is expected to make recommendations as part of a plan to address the national debt that Mullen called "the No. 1 threat to our national security."

"We as a country have got to get a grip on that," he said, recognizing that the Pentagon, too, must do its part.

That will require some difficult and well-thought out decisions that shape what kind of military the United States will have in the future, he said, and how large the force will be and what capabilities it will have.

A big part of that equation involves people -- and how they will be compensated.

Mullen emphasized that there are no immediate plans to change the military retirement plan. Even if a change was to be made, he said, officials would press to have it "grandfathered," so people already serving continue to be covered by the current system.

And, if the choice came down to prioritizing between retirees and those currently in uniform, Mullen said, "my priority is for those who are serving."

"That doesn't mean that we do one and don't do the other," he told the midshipmen. "But that is my focus." [emphasis added]

The United States has a "very well-compensated force," Mullen said, telling the future naval officers it's well deserved.

"We are in two wars. We are dying for our country and we need to be well compensated," he said. "But it isn't infinite."

Personnel costs have soared 80 percent over the past 10 years, Mullen said. In addition, health-care costs skyrocketed from $19 billion in 2001 to $51 billion this year and are projected to reach $65 billion within four years.

"That is not sustainable," he said.

The full compensation package needs to be examined, Mullen said, including retirement pay, housing allowances, bonuses, health care and other benefits.

"There are going to have to be some changes," the chairman said. The challenge is "to do it in a balanced ... and fair way."
 

I know he pretty much had to say that, and probably means it.  But forwarned is fore-armed.  Heh.  How fine-grained are we going to get in our class warfare?

One answer is pretty clear.  Don't trust the government to take care of you.  And don't plan on it.  That way, if they do, it's gravy.  Too bad for most of us in the over-50 boat right now, though, eh?  Better ramp up those 401(k) contributions... if, of course, the government doesn't inflate the currency to uselessness in order to salvage their debt issues by ruining you.

Sigh.

In some respects, I'm glad the Auld Soldier didn't live to see this.

22 Comments

and don't stand between him and the door to HIS retirement with all the little perks that come with flag rank.  Maybe as a consultant to DOD, or even better, a position on the Board of a big Mil-Indus. company.  Who knows, I'm sure he will tough it out somehow.
 
Well, the DOD can save the money for his retirement flag....there's plenty of room under Weasely Clark's, since the ADM seems so interested in not foghting for his people.
 
 I wonder, is that what they mean by the term, "clawback" from flag officers? Just maybe, we should limit their options, *by law and UCMJ.* Just a thought, but for the record, politicians, too.  
 
Mullen has been a perfect example of the "Professional Purple Warrior",  He seems to have lost sight of his Pole Star after slipping into the CJCS slot.   Perhaps a good example of "different times, different visions".
Sad.
 
How long before the draft is reinstated to cover for the reduced personnel costs?  Not for or against, a professional army is always the need and desire.
 
Yeah. Break our word to former veterans. That's soooo gonna look good to current veterans.

This nation is growing more and more Roman by the year. And, by Roman, I mean that part of the history of Rome where the average Joe Citizen figured it just wasn't worth fighting for any more.


 
Grimmy is very perceptive.

And Mullen is good riddence.
 
J(NTA):  Don't encourage him.  It swells his head when you compliment him like that.
 
Do they think they will keep good people if they screwed in retirement? I would ask if Mullen is that stupid, but I already know he is. Right along with Harvey and Roughead. We could stand a bit of a RIF among the flags.
 
There was a time when those in charge came last to the cafeteria line ....

They've been lying to us since, well, forever, I suspect.  Somewhere between WW1 and WW2 was the peak of honesty.
 
Rumor has it that Mullen's already sewed up JoA's former position -- at thrice the salary, with a platoon of minions to accomplish any actual work that may fall into his "IN" box...
 
While perhaps not my former position (very few persons of that many stars are willing to live in someplace as isolated from the Beltway as Leavenworth) the rest of Bill's comment is true in *so* many ways.

I had a delicious moment of schadenfreude, when working as a part of a pod of contractors with the same basic client, a retired GO whom I had worked for turned to me with some scribbled notes and said, "Here, I need you to flesh these out and make a presentation out of them."

He did *not* work for my company.  I was *not* being paid to work his task.  Simply put, doing what he asked told me to do would have been breaking the law.  If he'd been a fellow employee, I probably would have demurred, or made the point of saying, "Sure.  What's the charge number?"  And I would have been legal (though I actually would have done more management than that and coached him on he's now a minion, and doesn't have minions.

Instead, I said, "No, sorry.  I can't do that, unless you'd like both of us to break the law.  But if you're having some problems with Powerpoint, I can coach you through that." 

He responded, "Hey!  We're a team, and I need you to do this."

I said, "No, legally, we're two contractors from different companies, working on two different task orders issued under the same multi-contractor IDIQ award.  And our companies aren't on the same contract team.  While we choose, inasmuch as we can, to be team players for the client, that doesn't mean you get to take our past lives as the basis for our relationship in this phase, and start handing off work to me like I'm on your staff, available for tasking by you.  I'm not.  Welcome to your new world, General."

Clients around here made the comment that they liked my former firm because it was full of staff officers, who are used to doing work, and just sit down and start working. Vice "Former Brigade Commanders and General Officers" who still think their job is to recognize good ideas and pick them for others to execute.

 
thanks, you really write in a way everyone - including me :-) - can@is able to understand, even if someone does not know very much with these things. But what exactly do you mean with your second paragraph? Frank
 
 Sir John, you company doesn't happen to need a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Surveyor  do they? I'd like to be able to tell GOs to pound sand too. :-)
 
...a retired GO whom I had worked for turned to me with some scribbled notes and said, "Here, I need you to flesh these out and make a presentation out of them."

We created the Inadvertent IMC and Sandstorm Survival Course  for the "legacy" Iraqi pilots because, although everyone recognized the need for it, nobody actually wrote the requirement into the contract. I stayed out of trouble by "doing it in my spare time" and meticulously tracking the sim performance to justify the (prepaid) usage as "programming and hardware upgrade interoperability analysis."

Sometimes "doing the right thing" can get you fired, and if I had actually diverted assets from the Flight Training School program, even though all parties had approved of what I was doing, the impropriety would have been grounds to boot me.

I have a hunch that if the Iraqi squadron commanders hadn't been among the first to go through it, and hadn't kept pushing Baghdad to formalize it, MoD would never have written the Letter of Requirement that made my company a nice chunk of change in '09-'10.
 
That's a situation all good contractors have found themselves in - when the client finds out you're giving them exactly what they asked for, and now we realize... that isn't what they wanted or *quite* what they wanted.  We're there to help the client succeed.

My situaiton was a contractor who didn't really internalize he was a contractor, and that included doing the scut-work that went with having the big ideas - not tossing that off to a flunky like he was used to doing.  Especially a flunky who worked on a different task for a different company!
 
Acknowledging that changes are needed to deal with unsustainable personnel costs...

Funding for military personnel at the present level is "unsustainable" and yet the stratospheric costs of expanding social welfare programs benefitting illegal aliens -- as if changing the verbage to "undocumented potential Democrat voters immigrants" magically changes their status -- which *surpasses* DoD personnel costs is now a humanitarian mandate.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

 
... that isn't what they wanted or *quite* what they wanted. We're there to help the client succeed.

Talking with my fellow mercenaries contractors formed my personal observation that the best companies to work for follow these three preliminary steps:

1. Determine what the client really wants (which is not always what the client merely *says* he wants).

2. Determine what the client really *needs*.

3. Make them mesh.
 
...and do so without violating the FAR.
 
Or any of the myriad export restrictions.

F'r instance, I'm not allowed to carry this particular laptop I'm using OCONUS -- even though I have all my 'Structor Support info on it -- because it's Bluetooth-capable.

Even though the PX/BX in Kirkuk carried the exact same model and was authorized to sell it to the Iraqi military......
 
Question for y'all smart folk...

IF the pay and privilages of current military retirees or privilages of former non retired military personnel are reduced below the level offered when their military contracts were signed, that's a breach of contract aint it?

And if it reduces or takes away from those perks and privilages post service for current military, then that is also a breach, isn't it?

I don't know if the balloon float pre meme fits the above or not. But if it does, wouldn't current military personnel be legally able to void their current contracts?
 
You'd think so, Grimmy.  But, in truth, this Administration hasn't found tossing away contractual obligations it finds irksome to its needs all that problematic - see Government Motors, among other things.  I rather suspect, for form's sake, when it headed to the courts, they'd just invoke a "it's like a bankruptcy" (all while saying "Psst, We're not really bankrupt, we're just dumping off these freeloaders!" to the markets) meme  That would allow them to break the contract, just like corporations can do in a bankruptcy, and then pensions are tossed over to the Federal gov't agency that handles pensions from defunct or reorg'ed companies - and the benefits are invariably less than what was promised, and which the worker provided value for that s/he can no longer recover.  Then they'd point out that since the pensions would end up with the federal gov't anyway, we can skip all that and just get straight to screwin' 'em, um-kay?

As for current folks, that poses a greater danger to them, but with the enlisted force, you just change their contract when they re-enlist.  For the officer corps, you tell 'em they can take the new offer or be released under the terms of the old contract - which means if they've got 17 years or less, zip, nada, zilch.

And if too many people walk away, they'll just bring back the draft, cut pay since they aren't volunteers, and pat themselves on the back about how clever they've been.  Hell, that almost reads like a lefty stroke-book.