Morale: Stranded In Paradise


February 22, 2008: Desperate to save money, the U.S. Air Force
has given in to something their troops have long been demanding. Namely, to
stay longer in the more pleasant overseas posts. Airmen in places like Europe,
Japan and Pacific islands, can now extend tours an extra year, or more. Last
year, this saved the air force over $30 million. That's because it's expensive
to move troops to and from these distant locations. And then there are
intangible benefits, like less time spent getting new people up to speed, or
the impact of higher morale on performance. Last year, nearly 8,000 airmen
extended their stay overseas. While some commanders attribute this to things
like $300 a month bonuses for those who extend in South Korea, or newly built
living facilities in many bases, it's mostly that troops have been eager to
stay overseas for decades. Until recently, such "homesteading" was discouraged.
The military was really into moving everyone around, at least once every three
years. But that, after years of study, turned out to, well, not really worth the
cost. About 16 percent of airmen in Europe extended for a year, while about ten
percent of those in the Pacific did. These men and women have stranded
themselves in paradise, and are happier in the air force as a result.


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