Saturday, December 6, 2014

Slaps In The Face

This is a long post, but IMO an important one. Please take a few minutes to read it in its entirety, and then if you feel so inclined take the action requested at the end.

Thank you.

Stop The Madness
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday appealed to lawmakers to "stop the madness" of across-the-board Pentagon spending cuts, saying they threaten U.S. military readiness and technological dominance at a time of rising global challenges.

Work, addressing a think-tank defense conference, said unless Congress gave the Pentagon greater budgetary stability and certainty, it ran the risk of fielding a military that was "increasingly misaligned with the strategic environment."
Under obama, we have no clue what the 'strategic environment' is, unless we buy into the school of thought that his strategic intent is to degrade our military capability - an idea that I initially rejected, but to which I am now giving much more credence.
The Defense Department has been operating in an uncertain budget environment since Congress and the president approved the Budget Control Act of 2011, which required the Pentagon to cut nearly $1 trillion in projected spending over a decade.
One unforeseen, and hopefully unintended, consequence of the budget cuts is the RIFing (Reduction In Force) of experienced and dedicated mavericks: mid-grade officers who began their military careers as enlisted men and women.
For all the insecurities of war, Capt. Elder Saintjuste always figured the one thing he could count on from the Army was job security.

A Haitian immigrant who enlisted as a teenager, he deployed three times to Iraq, missing so many birthdays and Christmases that he sometimes felt he barely knew his four children. He hid symptoms of post-traumatic stress so he could stay in the Army, because he loved his job and believed that after 20 years he could retire with a captain’s pension.

Then this summer, on the day Captain Saintjuste reached his 20 years, the Army told him that as part of the postwar downsizing of the force he would have to retire. And adding insult to injury, he would have to retire as a sergeant, earning $1,200 less per month, because he had not been a captain long enough to receive a captain’s pension.

“I worked, I sacrificed, I risked my life, and they took it away like it didn’t matter,” Captain Saintjuste said as he brought groceries into his house near Fort Bragg. “It wasn’t just losing a job. It was like having your wife leave you suddenly and not tell you why. It’s your whole life.”

For the first time since the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the Army is shrinking. Faced with declining budgets, the Army, the largest of the services, cut its force this year to 508,000 soldiers from 530,000, with plans to trim an additional 20,000 troops next year. If funding cuts mandated by Congress continue, the Army could have fewer than 450,000 soldiers by 2019 — the smallest force since World War II.

The cuts have largely come through attrition and reductions in recruiting, and have, so far, mostly affected low-ranking enlisted soldiers who have served only a few years. But this summer, the cuts fell on officers as well, 1,188 captains and 550 majors, many who were clearly intending on making a career of the military. More are expected to lose their jobs next year.

And for reasons the Army has not explained, the largest group of officers being pushed out — nearly one in five — began as enlisted soldiers.

Many are being pushed out despite having good records. When the Army announced the impending officer cuts a year ago, officials said they would target officers with evidence of poor performance or misconduct.

But an internal Army briefing disclosed by a military website in September showed the majority of captains being forced out had no blemishes on their records. The briefing, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, also showed that officers who had joined the Army as enlisted soldiers, then endured the demanding process required to rise into the officer corps, were three times as likely as captains who graduated from West Point to be forced to retire.
Ah yes, the infamous WPPA (West Point Protective Association). The not-so-informal group of graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, who are often accused of protecting each other, regardless of their level of competence or errors committed. Term is generally frowned upon by members of the WPPA.)
Many of those former enlisted officers had been encouraged to make the jump to the officer corps between 2006 and 2009 when the Iraq war was raging and the Pentagon was struggling to replace junior officers who were leaving the Army as soon as their initial commitments were over, often because they were worn out by multiple deployments.

The soldiers who volunteered to fill the gap — older than most junior officers because they had already served in the enlisted ranks — were picked from the best of the ranks, and some had to earn bachelor’s degrees to make the cut. Many said in interviews they believed they were being pushed out because they were entitled to more pay and were eligible for retirement earlier, since they had been in the Army longer than other commissioned officers.

“The Army knew we had more years and they could save money by cutting us,” said Capt. Tina Patton, 43, a combat medic who became an officer in 2007. “Looking back at our records, a lot of us can’t figure out why else we would be cut.”
There is, however, a small ray of hope for the former enlisted troops.
A group of 15 senators is calling on the Army to change its policy regarding prior-enlisted captains and majors who are being forced to retire at their highest enlisted rank.

In a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh, the lawmakers, led by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, said they have "grave concerns" over the treatment of these officers.

The Army this year selected about 1,100 captains and more than 500 majors for involuntary separation as part of an ongoing draw down to reach an end-strength of 490,000 soldiers by the end of fiscal 2015. Among those officers were soldiers who had previously served as enlisted troops before earning their commission.

"These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army's call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank," the letter states. "To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives."
It's not like it would be a major problem for the Army.
In their letter to McHugh, the senators called on the Army to change its policy to "delay the mandatory retirement date of affected soldiers until the first month after they become eligible to retire as commissioned officers."

"For many of the affected soldiers, this would extend their time in service by only a few months," the senators wrote.
This is a shameful way to treat individuals who stepped up and did what was asked of them. I certainly hope the powers-that-be do the right thing.

But I'm not holding my breath...

In other news, here's another slap in the face to our military.

Immigration Policy Reversal Denies Residency to Some Military Spouses
President Obama made his executive order on immigration weeks after a recent reversal of a U.S. immigration policy that will separate some military and Veterans Affairs employees from their spouses.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service reversed a policy whereby it automatically granted legal residency status to spouses of doctors and those with critical language skills who came to the U.S., joined the military and were fast-tracked to citizenship.

The reversal will force spouses to go back to their country of origin, stay there two years, and then apply to come to the U.S., just as any foreign visitor or student in the U.S. would have to do.

"They did just notify an Army doctor in Baltimore and another in Kansas City that their spouses' green-card applications are going to be denied and the spouses will have to go 'home' for two years," said Margaret Stock, a retired Army Reserve officer who pitched the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program to the Army in 2008.

"This will end up working out to a three-and-a-half year separation because ... the spouses will have to re-apply for green cards from overseas after two years, and it is taking [the State Department and Department of Homeland Security] about a year-and-a-half to process [the] applications," she said.

Citizenship and Immigration Services should be embarrassed by the policy, Stock said.

Obama also said his executive order will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders proposed.

But the policy reversal made by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service when it comes to foreign spouses of U.S. troops seems to fly in the face of that effort. A doctor with a family may think twice about accepting citizenship if it means the family must be separated for years, according to Stock.

She estimated there are about 300 Army doctors who may fit this profile. And many doctors who have come through the program are in the Army Reserve and work full time at VA hospitals across the country.

The policy change comes as VA Secretary Bob McDonald has been making the rounds of the country's medical schools in an effort to recruit new doctors. Army Recruiting Command projects it will fall short of its fiscal 2015 recruiting goals for doctors by 35 in the active duty and 77 in the Reserve.
Oh great. The military has a shortage of doctors. The VA has a shortage of doctors. The U.S. has a surplus of illegal aliens. So what does obama do?

He invites more illegals in, and kicks out people who have followed the rules, who have scarce and needed skills, and who have demonstrated their commitment to this country.

* blood boiling *

For whatever good it will do, I am contacting my representative and senators to express my disgust at both this absurd immigration policy, and the previously-mentioned targeting of prior-enlisted officers. I urge you to please, please do the same.

And pass the word on.

This is just plain wrong...


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Obama and his fellow travelers regard the military as serfs by their actions. Their words are not to be believed.

Old NFO said...

+1 on WSF, that way I don't have to use foul language...

CenTexTim said...

It is despicable how shabbily obama and his minions treat the military.