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Deja-vu all over again.

I lived through the post-Vietnam era RIFs as an Army brat.  Believe me, the impact was noticeable - if not in the way Our Bill lived through it.

I lived through the post-Desert Storm RIF (reduction-in-force, in case you don't know the acronym) as an eliigible year group Major.

To counter some of the pain caused by the brutal nature of the post-Vietnam RIF, Congress gave the services some shaping tools, including the 15 year retirement, which has recently been reauthorized.

So, now I see this sort of thing again, in a sort of dreary deja-vu...

Early Retirement Could Be A Bad Deal For Troops.

Which opens with what is, to me, a d-uh statement.

Servicemembers who accept a 15-year retirement incentive approved by Congress this month stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their retirement payments, according to early estimates.

Having lived through the last round of this stuff - if you are sitting around at 15 years hating your life, and facing the fact that you are going to get up and go in to do something you *hate* (this would be especially true for pass-overs who are now being used to fill all the PITA jobs that no one wants but have to be done) and you have an opportunity open up on the out side... it's a better option than resignation.

If they end up having to dangle a RIF (I lived through the post-Vietnam RIFs as an Army brat, and the post Desert Storm RIF as an in-the-zone Major) it's a better option than getting fired. The fact that you were going to get less over time should pretty much be a d-uh statement. The question is - is it worth it to your (and your family's) sanity or an alternative to possibly nothing at all. Gad, I"m grumpy with this deja-vu all over again stuff.

Which of course is new to all the younglings who've never faced it before.

It's a tool folks. An option. There's always risks.

If you are a top third performer, this is an academic discussion. If you are a bottom third performer, you're hoping enough of the guys and gals in the middle third take the various options so that there is no RIF and you survive. It's the guys and gals in the middle who are in the crunch - but this time, with this economy, we're more likely to see a RIF, I'm thinking, as there are simply fewer good options to jump to.

At least this time around, unlike during Vietnam, the Regular/Reserve status thing has been fixed so that we're not just chopping talented guys who were full career active-duty "reservists" while protecting (until the very last round) the regulars - when in fact it was effectively a meaningless (yet important in this context) distinction in status.

In the end, it's going to depend on how deep the cut has to go, and how they choose to approach it. It's still better than what the Vietnam guys were offered, which was all or nothing. Having five and a half decades of experience watching my Army from the inside and out - we'll still keep a significant portion of the slugs (though the 360 assessment process *may* help that) because they look good in the suit, brief well, know how to suck up and can run. Even if they're otherwise not worth the powder to blow them from the gun.

3 Comments

I was in as a Junior NCO during the post Vietnam Debacle and was in the process of sitting out my Stateside year to retire during the Desert Storm draw down.

In both cases I saw too many people who actually got things done get bounced in order to protect the Political Game Players and Commanders Olympic Running Club!

I was fortunate to have a very technical MOS that could never meet the demand numbers so was insulated by scarceity!  
 
How many of these guys will actually retire versus clog up the already bad job market?
 
 As far as whether 15 yr retirement is a "bad deal" or not, here's a counter point from Peter Munson:

peterjmunson.blogspot.com/2012/01/parole-at-15.html

Everytime we have one of these things, the good guys always seem to either bail (anticipating the storm and are smart enough to take advantage of the incentives) or, trying to do the right thing get caught in the vortex.