Peace Time: September 23, 1999


The Army downgraded 6,700 jobs held by sergeants by one or two grades in 1995 as a means to save money and alleviate the shortage of sergeants. It has found, however, that the more junior people cannot perform many of the jobs and will upgrade 4,000 of them by one or two ranks in the next three years.--Stephen V Cole

What Pilot Shortage? Responding to claims that there is a shortage of active duty military pilots - 2,100 in the Air Force and 1,100 in the Navy - the General Accounting Office recently issued a report that suggests that the services have helped create the problem. In both services significant numbers of pilots are flying desks rather than aircraft. According to the GAO 19.8 percent - 4,150 - of the approximately 21,000 pilots in the Air Force and Navy are holding desk jobs, many of which do not seem to have an inherent need for a flight qualified officer. Nearly a fifth of the Navy's 7,712 aviators - 1,450 officers, or 18.8 percent - more than a fifth of USAF's 13,000 pilots are similarly tied down, 2,700 officers, 20.8 percent. Of the 1,450 naval aviators holding desk jobs, the GAO claimed that 324 were "nonoperational and nonflying," and suggested that such jobs could be filled by other personnel, including reservists and retirees. A A Nofi

The US Army, faced with twin crises (a shortage of sergeants and a dearth of first-term soldiers willing to re-enlist) has come up with a plan to have the two problems solve each other. Soldiers who complete their first tour and agree to re-enlist will receive virtually automatic promotion to "buck" sergeant (pay grade E-5). The deal is not without its hitches. The soldier must be on a promotion list and either in or willing to transfer to a branch which has a particular shortage of sergeants (e.g., Bradley Turret Mechanic). The stripes come when the soldier re-enlists, completes any training required for the transfer to a new specialty, and completes the Primary Leadership Development Course. The Army has ordered PLDC courses to make room for 25,000 prospective sergeants in 2000, up from 22,000 in 1999. --Stephen V Cole


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