Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"What Kind Of (Submarine Officer) Is Best?"

Lots of links to share since I last posted:

1) USS Providence (SSN 719) launched a UAV! The media made sure to call it a "drone" to scare people.

2) In skimmer news, a Chinese LST violated the Rules of the Road in trying to ward off USS Cowpens (CG 63) from collecting intel of a local OPAREA exercise involving the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning. I suggest that since the Chinese PLAN has demostrated a desire to play at the varsity level, we take them up on it. I'm gonna guess that Chinese skimmers will collide with each other before anything bad happens to one of our ships. And, in 10-15 years, once the Chinese Navy gets a lot better, maybe we'll need an INCSEA agreement with them like we had with the Soviets.

3) Here's a great 10 minute video on leadership from a Submariner; it's well worth your time.

4) Word on the street is that there are lots of good jobs for former Navy Nukes at the Hanford Vitrification Plant in Richland, WA.

5) The budget agreement will, if it passes the Senate and is signed by the President, reduce the rate of increase for military retirement pensions for those of us under 62 years old and non-disabled. While it'll cost me money and does feel like a "unilateral after-the-fact" modification of the original enlistment contract I signed, I figure that since I support a reduction in the rate of increase of future Social Security payments as part of a "grand compromise" on entitlement reform, it would be hypocritical of me to get too NIMBY with this proposal. YMMV.

6) An article (membership required) in the December issue of Proceedings by a young LT is discussed over at the USNI blog. The article posits that the move to require more (85%) of NROTC scholarships be given to those who will pursue technical degrees is misguided. Excerpt:
The tier system was developed in 2009 as a result of fewer NROTC and U.S. Naval Academy graduates entering the nuclear-reactor community. The Regulations for Officer Development and the Academic-Major Selection Policy direct that a minimum of 65 percent of NROTC Navy-option scholarship midshipmen must complete a technical-degree program before receiving their commissions. A technical degree refers to Tiers 1 and 2, which comprise all STEM majors. Tier 1 includes most engineering majors, and Tier 2 refers to majors in biochemistry, astrophysics, chemistry, computer programming/engineering, civil engineering, physics, and mathematics. All other academic majors are non-technical, or Tier 3.
As a result of the new policy, a high-school senior’s best chance of obtaining a Navy scholarship is to apply for Tiers 1 and 2, since CNO guidance specifies that not less than 85 percent of incoming offers will come from this restricted pool. In fact, an algorithm decides the fate of hopeful midshipmen, balanced in large part with their proposed major selection annotated in their applications.
The post goes on to provide anecdotal evidence of all the History and English and Gender Studies majors who have done fine as Navy Nuclear officers. Most of us know one or two who have done fine. The underlying assumption seems to be that people who get engineering or chemisty or physics degrees only care about science, and are unlikely to be able to find Afghanistan on a map. The good LT goes on to say: "If less than 35 percent of our unrestricted line officers have developed the ability to think comprehensively through critical reading and reflection, what will the force look like in 20 years?"

Despite clear evidence that us guys with technical degrees can read charts and discuss the differences between Shi'a and Sunnism and understand that even though "eye" and "symmetry" don't rhyme it's OK for Blake to pretend like they do, the "we need a critical mass of submarine officers who didn't take Statics and Dynamics in college" mindset is, frankly, silly. I haven't seen the numbers in years, but back in the day the vast majority of Ensigns who made it through Nuke School and got their fish were technical majors, and we've done fine. Yes, there are plenty of Poli Sci majors who made it through, but there's no evidence that they make better overall officers -- they might be more popular with the crew and, when they leave, contribute to the "all the best JOs get out after 5 years" mindset, but that doesn't mean they were the best officers with the most long-term command and flag potential. A young officers job during his or her JO tour is to learn the boat, get qualified, learn something about leadership, and not make any huge mistakes. Based on my experience, officers with technical degrees have an easier time doing the "learn the boat" and "get qualified" parts of those, giving them more time to work on the other stuff. It's not like JOs are going to decide whether the interaction we're watching through the 'scope near the Straits of Malacca is piracy or smuggling based on study of the Dutch colonization of Indonesia in the 17th century; that's up to the Captain. And most of what officers learn about how the world works doesn't happen doing keg stands at some frat house; it happens throughout one's career.

Have dumbass COs slipped through the cracks who were great nukes but were flummoxed by references to Montague and Capulet in a Wilson Phillips song that somehow got played in the wardroom? Sure. Does that mean we need to give up populating our Force mostly with officers who are most likely to be able to get qualified and start down the road through the proven winnowing process that generates the COs and flag officers who run the Navy? I don't think so. But I look forward to the discussion.

7) Go Navy, Beat Army:

83 Comments:

Blogger Bubblehead said...

(Bonus points for figuring out where the title of the blog post comes from.)

12/14/2013 11:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would one go along with ANY change to either Social Security or retirement COLA calculations? Given the Government has already fudged the manner CPI is calculated to the point that it is essentially uncoupled from the true costs of living (meaning buying the products we all need to live our lives)it is yet another example of Government picking winners and losers.

12/14/2013 11:20 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Because by about 2040 there will only be two people paying into the system for every beneficiary, and by 2033 the SSA will only be able to pay out about 75% of promised benefits if we don't do something.

12/14/2013 11:39 AM

 
Blogger Curt said...

Retiree COLAs targeted in bipartisan budget deal -
http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20131211/NEWS05/312110027/Retiree-COLAs-targeted-bipartisan-budget-deal
- Interesting...

12/14/2013 12:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go along with a reduction in benefits because it's better than no benefits, which is where we're heading if we don't get a handle on entitlements (and like it or not, being paid for life to do nothing if you choose is a heck of an entitlement regardless of how it may have been earned).

12/14/2013 12:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that a technical major is necessary to excel as a nuclear officer, submarine or surface. I do think that a solid technical curriculum that supplements the general education and major requirements of a humanities major is necessary, though.

12/14/2013 12:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how about supporting reducing spending on unnecessary expenditures that have nothing to do with the real and proper functions of Government? How about really going after fraud waste and abuse both in the military and other branches of Government? How about opposing the continued expansion of Government beyond its Constitutional bounds? Point being there are MANY things that could be done before it became necessary to reduce COLA for military retirees or those on Social Security.

12/14/2013 12:57 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The picture of the Cowpens shows a little more rust than I'd have liked, but I guess if she's been working hard for months out there it's ok. Just so long as the radar isn't rusty, too.

12/14/2013 1:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be suspicious of the spurious claims that Social Security recipients get more back than they ever contribute. Even engineers should be aware of something called "the time value of money". The dumbass comparisons use by politicians to make the phony claims neglect key facts. First, the government uses social security funds for purposes it has vastly expanded since the program's inception and in almost every adminiatration since.

Since "lockbox" social security funds never earned a penny of interest (which would have been tax free to the U.S. Government). That means a contribution that would have paid for a brand new V-6 in 1970, is just a little more than an average recipient collects in two months today. What does a brand new Ford V-6 cost now? The difference is due to the time value of money, which had it been kept in trust as claimed by the government, would have more than kept pace even under Jimmy Carter's double-digit inflation.

Congress also cut workers' contributions to social security tax by 32% for 2011 & 2012. Thank goodness that has expired.

But, an even larger travesty than costly SSI and disability payments (involving high rates of fraud and abuse), are annual caps ($113,700 this year) on the wage subject to FICA (social security tax). The claim by those with influence (wealthy campaign donors) that since there is no way they could ever collect amounts equivalent to their pay-ins, the amount subject to FICA should be capped. In bonuses alone, Wall Street types make $millions not subject to FICA.

What is wrong with that, you may ask? For sales people and ordinary folk, there is little guarantee that last year's high income is going to be continued throughout a working career. Not so for the wealthy, who set their own salaries or can negotiate total compensation packages with the board of directors or partners (in law firms, for instance). Remove the caps.

If a chained (as in slaves) cost of living is good enough for retirees, especially veterans, why are not the annual salary increase Congress gives itself not chained as well?

victor, vet

12/14/2013 2:25 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Anonymous @1257: Re: Constitutional bounds, are you an "Article I, Section 8"-er? If so, which clause in Article I, Section. 8, allows Congress to authorize the Social Security and Medicare programs? (Disclaimer: I'm a big fan of the "general welfare" and "necessary and proper" clauses.)

12/14/2013 2:46 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pay close attention to the manner of who loses, and by how much, and you'll recognize that this is a Grand Bargain between Baby Boomers and Millennials to pay less than what was promised to the Gen-Xers who served between them. Guess which generation has fewer voters and/or campaign donors?

The worst part of this deal is that it only saves about $6.2B over 10 years, despite failing to honor our debts. If we're going to dishonor ourselves it should at least achieve major savings.

12/14/2013 2:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Nobody ever switched majors from Political Science to Mechanical Engineering because they weren't capable enough for Political Science.

Non-technical curricula do not have a monopoly on critical thinking or creativity. They DO have a monopoly on being easy.

12/14/2013 4:35 PM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

It has been just over fifty years since I earned a BS with a "Social Studies" major from USNA and went directly to NPS Mare Island. I have to admit the Rickover requirement to take Engineering Math my last semester instead of another "Bull" Course saved me at NPS. Ten years later I was Director of Officer Training at NPS Bainbridge. From that experience I am able to say that most Liberal Arts majors were successful but they really had to work hard and get lots of Extra Instruction to get through the academics at NPS. Those who did not put in the extra effort generally were asked to pursue other Naval careers. I doubt it has changed that much in forty years despite all the changes in technology and equipment. One thing I noted as a PCO was that the questions on the Engineer Exam we took were the same or similar to the questions when we qualified as Engineer but the answers were very different because of changes in standards, technology, and better understanding of impacts of certain events on the plant. I suspect that others have seen the same. I ended up being an engineer who was actually more comfortable discussing history and enjoying the various articles that Rickover sent to wardrooms in those days. I agree with Joel that you need a good technical background with some social studies to be successful in today's technical world. What is scary is the number of citizens that have not understanding of science and are not able to make good decisions because of that lack of understanding.
Regarding the 1% hit in COLA in the new budget agreement - I am over 62 so it does not affect me but I do see it as a breaking of faith with the younger military retirees. It is also the camel's nose in the tent regarding retirement benefits. I would be willing to see a change to the chained CPI if it also included a lifting of the limit on FICA taxation to make Social Security solvent for future generations. I realize it will reduce my benefits somewhat and have a greater impact on the younger retirees but it may be necessary in the big picture. I just wish that the current generations had the same sense of responsibility as the "Greatest Generation" regarding paying for what is necessary for all rather than just for themselves. I sense a great selfishness in the upper two percent that has led to the great income inequality we see today. My two cents - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

12/15/2013 11:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) The 'general welfare' clause was never intended to be applied to social monetary programs. You cannot take 'general welfare' out of the sentence in which it was written.

To tie this to the degree thing, the non-technical majors that you deride in your article can read well enough to know that the clause "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States" contains the conjunction and which would require that the purpose of the funding provide for BOTH common defence[sic] AND general welfare. It wasn't until FDR's court packing scheme that the Supreme Court was convinced to interpret it any other way.

I'm not saying social security should just vanish tomorrow based on being unconstitutional, I'm saying the document is no longer relevant to the discussion and hasn't been for over 70 years. If we're going to discuss whether or not to keep it, it's been around long enough that we can do so on its own merits and citing a document that has been treated as guidelines rather than rules in the 2nd half of the 20th and 21st century.

2) Military retirement is a damn good deal. There are few, if any, other careers that will pay you 50-100% of your salary for the rest of your life starting in your 40s, increase this salary along with CPI increases, provide you with continuing health benefits, give you access to taxpayer subsidized groceries and tax-free department stores, and allow you to purchase insurance to pass those benefits to your spouse if you die first.

Yea, military life is tough. But so are a lot of other jobs, and their companies realized a long time ago that they can't afford to keep paying people who no longer work there for 40+ more years of their lives.

I like the idea of military retirement, but I would completely understand if Congress decided that you do not collect a penny until you are eligible for social security, with exceptions made for dismembered servicemembers who can no longer work. So you put 20 years in the military. Thank you. You were financially compensated for your service. Now go back to work until you're 65-70 just like everyone else.

If service members keep riding this 'But I served 20 years uncle sam owes me the world' attitude, we are eventually going to find ourselves on the wrong side of a public relations crisis. The post 9/11 American attitude was very military friendly compared to the period before it, but I think that is going to wane in the next decade especially as OEF and OIF come to a close.

3) NROTC scholarships are not supposed to be a handout for the sole benefit of the recipient. They are an investment in future officers, and the investment is poor if the Navy decides to fund someone's history degree so he can do a 5-and-out and save money for graduate school. I'd be willing to wager that the people making the decision on the policy have looked at retention numbers and how many techs vs. non-techs go on to be engineers, XOs, and COs, and have determined that technical majors are a better investment for the Navy. Also, realize that lately the sub force has had a higher-than-average failure rate at PNEO over the past few years, no doubt due to shortening the self-study period from 12 weeks to 8 paired with no good pre-existing notes on VA class boats. Solution? Hire more tech majors who would be able to grasp engineering concepts more quickly.

12/16/2013 1:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that as long as an austerity mindset grips Congress, military retirees are in trouble. When push comes to shove, it's a lot over to screw the <1% of people who retire from the military than to screw everybody.


Neither these changes, nor cutting Social Security are truly necessary, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for military retirees.
More than half of them vote Republican. Sometimes you get exactly what you voted for.

12/16/2013 5:46 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The post CO makes some good points, but I take issue with the fact that he takes credit for innovating leadership techniques that are standard practice in the fleet.

Every JO has been asked to read the COs mind after using the standard "I intend to..." line. It's actually an obnoxious way to ask a question - ask what you want to know and cut the guessing game bullshit.

12/16/2013 8:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do not be alarmed by the threat of proposed changes to military retirement pay. It is part of the political con regularly perpetrated on the public.

Currently, it works like this:

The Democrats are anxious about savings Republicans seek from civilian federal worker retirement, so they counter with the dishonest threat of savings from the military side. In the end, both give in, and their leaders (lawyers) pretend not to be on the same team. This is dishonest, orchestrated in advance by the leadership of both sides, and designed to make voters think we have two major parties in conflict when we have really have two leadership teams in league with one another, and accountable to lobbyists for their re-election and, in too many cases, their more lucrative post-congressional employment opportunities.

12/16/2013 12:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering both parties voted overwhelmingly for the deal, I am pretty sure they are on the same side on this one.

12/16/2013 4:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:39 nailed it:

If service members keep riding this 'But I served 20 years uncle sam owes me the world' attitude, we are eventually going to find ourselves on the wrong side of a public relations crisis.

12/16/2013 6:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the UAV that was recently launched from the submarine....how did it communicate back to the sub after launch?

Was this some sort of secure method of comms or yet another possible method to backtrack back to the sub?

Just curious.

12/16/2013 6:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@6:47
just how stupid do you think actual submariners are?

12/16/2013 8:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess is that once launched, it gets controlled by an AF "pilot" back in a cushy office in the U.S., and the boat stays at PD awaiting the signal to prepare for landing (if it even lands back on the boat).

12/16/2013 8:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Considering both parties voted overwhelmingly for the deal, I am pretty sure they are on the same side on this one.

12/16/2013 4:28 PM"

Politically, I'm a little surprised Paul Ryan would put his name to this bill. You gotta figure he's going to try to run for POTUS again in 2016, and his support of a bill that alters military retirement without grandfathering current retirees opens him up to allowing candidates like Hillary to reach out to moderates in swing states.

"Pay close attention to the manner of who loses, and by how much, and you'll recognize that this is a Grand Bargain between Baby Boomers and Millennials to pay less than what was promised to the Gen-Xers who served between them. Guess which generation has fewer voters and/or campaign donors?"

Not a single member of the Senate is a millenial. The oldest millenials will be turning 30 this year and will just hit eligible age to even run for Senate. The youngest Representative just turned 30 as well, which makes him a gen-Xer. The POTUS, who has veto power, is a gen-Xer. In the 2008 national elections, voters aged 18-24 have the lowest overall turnout, followed by voters 24-30 (who during that election were still Gen-Xers). This is trending downward.

So much for that theory.

12/16/2013 8:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@6:47

They used GI Joe walkie talkies.



hagar

12/16/2013 10:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"@6:47
just how stupid do you think actual submariners are?

12/16/2013 8:30 PM"

I don't know how dumb HE thinks submariners are, but you're demonstrating that at least one of them thinks that military satellite communication is a big fucking secret in the year 2013.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/predator2.htm

12/17/2013 12:21 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other than the time honored submarine tradition of attacking the person asking the question (god I loved that tradition in the submarines - nothing like shooting the questioner to "prove" you have the bigger set of brains/balls....)

I asked the question as communication security is somewhat important to actual submariners. I wanted to understand the risks associated with this UAV concept to figure out if it is worth the effort or just a fancy way to get yourself killed via counter detection.

But by all means if we want to continue to shoot at the questioner and avoid the question - have at it.

Otherwise - ATFQ

12/17/2013 5:45 AM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

I agree with the comments on increasing the retirement age to get the benefits. There is no other industry or shop in America that allows one to get 50% pay at 38-45 that I know. Maybe the AD guys should switch to the system that the reserves use with points and all that toward retirement.

Benefits in the military have always been screwed up. Consider, back in my day with the BAQ/VHA, if you had more dependents, then one was paid more. But you also made more money based on rank. So an E-5 with a wife and 3 kids had less to live out in town than an O-3 with wife and three kids. I never liked the system because if there's a benefit, it should be rank-blind.

Another one: Quite the taxpayer handout to pay someone tax-free to live off base (BAH) then give them the mortgage interest deduction for the tax free payments they just received to pay their mortgage.

Just a rant.

12/17/2013 7:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a_former_elt_2jv said...

“There is no other industry or shop in America that allows one to get 50% pay at 38-45 that I know”.

Law enforcement? Fire fighters?

12/17/2013 9:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous' 1:39 AM and 9:33 AM"

"Yea, military life is tough. But so are a lot of other jobs, and their companies realized a long time ago that they can't afford to keep paying people who no longer work there for 40+ more years of their lives."

and

"“There is no other industry or shop in America that allows one to get 50% pay at 38-45 that I know”.

Law enforcement? Fire fighters?"

Military service is unique and while I often see it related to Law Enforcement or "other tough jobs" the difference is significant. While there are many similar aspects to other arduous or dangerous jobs, military service is the only profession in which the fundamental reason for your presence DEMANDS that you go kill other people! Sometimes in great numbers at a single stroke.

This premise is lost on many non-combatant young but is inherent is everything they do or support. Anyone who completes 20 yrs of service eventually is faced with the realization of that purpose whether they're enlisted, simply doing maintenance, or senior officers who control launch authority for weapons of incredibly destructive power.

The people in combatant roles live with this more clearly and directly than others. Everyone in service is in support of destroying other peoples capabilities to hurt the United States and that normally means killing people who operate or maintain the weapon systems of our designated enemies.

Unless you've lived with those actions or been prepared to immediately execute orders that would accomplish death to others, you can only, philosophically, discuss job equivalence. Perhaps people who work in penal systems who are required to execute prisoners would be comparable. There is no one more sure of the consequences of their actions than one who pulls a trigger or fires a weapon system. That they come to that realization of the responsibility they wield is a sure thing, whether early or late in their careers. No other job has this as its fundamental and underlying responsibility.

You can discuss and make valid arguments about whether to continue the retirement pay policies we've had in the past. As our force structure continues to get smaller, the individual demands only increase. To break faith with people we've made commitments to for their prior service is to invite current service members to break faith with our current demands on them.

EMCS(SS)Ret

12/17/2013 10:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EMCS, you speak like someone who has never served with people who have been in combat. Forgive me if I'm wrong in that assessment.

Are you saying that a CAR and a verifiable enemy kill should be a pre-requisite to collecting retirement? Because that sure sounds like the argument you're making, and if so you're advocating cutting the benefits of 80-90% of U.S. service members. You're also sending the message that someone's service is not important or difficult if they haven't been in direct action against an enemy.

Military and police work are unique in that these careers force someone out at a certain age and career transitions can be difficult for some people. But even most police forces I know of require 25-30 years on the job and they don't hire people under 21, so you're looking at someone in their early to mid 50s vice late 30s collecting retirement at the earliest opportunity. That is a big difference in age and potential for starting another career. It's much easier for a 42 year old retired senior chief to transition to another career than a 55 year old retired police lieutenant, and there's a 8-13 year minimum gap in how much the DoD is paying their retiree vs how much the cop is being paid.

The act of being required or potentially required to kill may make the duties unique, but does not, in itself, entitle people to lifetime retirement starting as early as age 37. Especially not when servicemembers are paid salaries and benefits for performing their duties.

12/17/2013 2:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a_former_elt_2jv said...
I agree with the comments on increasing the retirement age to get the benefits. There is no other industry or shop in America that allows one to get 50% pay at 38-45 that I know. Maybe the AD guys should switch to the system that the reserves use with points and all that toward retirement.

Benefits in the military have always been screwed up. Consider, back in my day with the BAQ/VHA, if you had more dependents, then one was paid more. But you also made more money based on rank. So an E-5 with a wife and 3 kids had less to live out in town than an O-3 with wife and three kids. I never liked the system because if there's a benefit, it should be rank-blind.

Another one: Quite the taxpayer handout to pay someone tax-free to live off base (BAH) then give them the mortgage interest deduction for the tax free payments they just received to pay their mortgage.

Just a rant.

12/17/2013 7:42 AM"

1) BAH is designed to pay for rent and is scaled for what 'a typical person making the servicemember's salary' would rent in town. It is scaled to rank because it's tied to base pay, not because the military thinks an E-7 deserves a bigger house than an E-5 just on rank alone.

Because it's intended to pay for rent, the military doesn't track if you use it for a mortgage. Nor do they track if you rent an apartment with 3 buddies and pocket the difference. To do so would require more manpower and effort than it is worth.

2) The tax advantage that servicemembers collecting BAH enjoy is substantial and you'd be giving a lot of people a big paycut if they're required to pay taxes on BAH (which servicemembers still technically get even on base housing, it's just allotted to the company that runs the housing so it appears on your pay stub and never touches your bank account). I'm not saying it's the wrong answer, but you're talking about doubling or tripling the amount some servicemembers have to pay in taxes a year.

12/17/2013 2:10 PM

 
Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Alright, lets explore this one: If you claim the mortgage interest deduction, then your BAH is taxed, otherwise it is not.

As for the difference in housing allowance based on rank-- I understand the difference, but practically, they do pay the difference on rank, so in effect, they are saying that the E-7 should have a bigger apartment than an E-5. Maybe there should be groups instead. Enlisted, Officer, and Flag BAH rates. There's just not a lot of equity in the situation now.

(P.S. I was speaking more about the BAQ/VHA where PSD was in the business of reviewing leases, etc.)

12/17/2013 2:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for the difference in housing allowance based on rank-- I understand the difference, but practically, they do pay the difference on rank, so in effect, they are saying that the E-7 should have a bigger apartment than an E-5. Maybe there should be groups instead. Enlisted, Officer, and Flag BAH rates. There's just not a lot of equity in the situation now."

But why should there be? If you took away BAH entirely, an O-5 is going to get a nicer place than an E-5 because he can afford it. His rank and responsibility warrants more pay.

BAH is supposed to be an extension of that. It's an added tax-free allowance because it's acknowledging that people, those who are married with children, are being forced to continually rent when they would normally purchase a house.

I don't particularly see the non-equity in the system, aside for the fact that it makes assumptions about a person's age and family size based on rank that are holding true less often these days.

As for your solution, it's shallow. If I claim $12,000 in mortgage interest and collected $18,000 in BAH, do I lose the entirety of tax-free BAH to claim the deductible? Part of it? What about the fact that BAH is typically not high enough to cover a mortgage payment unless you put a lot down on the property? What about the fact that you're going to discourage homeownership among service members because not only do they risk having to sell the property at a loss if they get orders to relocate, but also they have to lose the tax advantage that they would sustain from renting?

How are you going to get the IRS to even 'see' BAH when the federal government can't even make a simple signup website (the IRS doesn't see allowances reported anywhere)?

12/17/2013 3:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BAH is supposed to be an extension of that. It's an added tax-free allowance because it's acknowledging that people, those who are married with children, are being forced to continually rent when they would normally purchase a house."

Active Duty people don't buy homes now? That has not been my experience. It still doesn't really make sense as for why it's tax free. It's just a giveaway to military members for being in the military. Same with BAH, BAS, and Free Medical.

Great benefits, but let's not pretend that people in the military TRULY do something above and beyond to deserve them. I didn't truly appreciate how generous the benefits in the military were until I got out. Despite making significantly more money, I still take home quite a bit less because of the tax advantage, paying for my own health insurance, etc.

Once you adjust for it all, O-3's with 4 years of experience are making low six figures, easy. Especially if they have a family.

12/17/2013 4:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Active Duty people don't buy homes now? That has not been my experience. It still doesn't really make sense as for why it's tax free. It's just a giveaway to military members for being in the military. Same with BAH, BAS, and Free Medical."

Some AD buy homes; most do not and those that do usually do it on the backend of their careers when they feel they have a good chance to homestead in a spot or they just deal with being a geobach for that last tour.

You want to charge servicemembers for medical, stop sending us to a window licker who has a GED and 1 year of training anytime I get sick and start letting me see a goddamn physician. Preferably one that has actually been through residency and isn't trying to write off symptoms in an effort to penny-pinch for his boss because he is immune from civil suits. The military medical system is set up in a way that saves a lot of money, and that's fine, but if you served then you know that 'free medical' is a whole different world in the military.

Also, it is not uncommon for higher risk jobs to have better health benefits as part of the compensation package. Otherwise, no one would want to do the job. You want Sgt Jones to pay for his own amputation that he has to get because he was wounded in the line of duty? That makes no sense.

You could make an argument for taxing BAH, just realize it's a big hit to the bottom line for anyone collecting it as it can easily be close to half a service members pay that they don't have to report on their 1040s. As far as BAS, its existence just doesn't make sense at all... the Navy gives people tax-free money so that it can withdraw it as a fee for eating boat or base galley food. I'm sure there's some voodoo accounting thing supply deals with that makes that make sense but on the outside that's just fucking stupid.

12/17/2013 4:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got out a few years ago, but at least on the O-Side Active Duty folks bought homes at a similar rate to people in the "real world". If you go outside of Navy Experience to the Air Force (I did a shore tour on an AF base), this is doubly true because they frequently do 5 year tours, so they are in one place long enough for that to make sense.For that matter, there are lots of other civilian jobs that require a similar cadence for moving to have hope at advancement. Sometimes requiring effective pay cuts as you move to more expensive places with no pay adjustments.

I sort of agree with military healthcare, but honestly, my wife is the only one that really had bad experiences, so I switched from Prime to standard so she did not have to go visit the Chop Shop anymore. I remember hating military doctors with a passion growing up, but didn't think it was so bad once I was active duty. In the civ-world, Health Care is expensive and I would gladly endure slightly shittier service to save the $5K per year I spend on Premiums to get a $5K Deductible for me, my wife, and 1 child. Health care at most companies is a pretty good deal if you just insure yourself, but they don't subsidize the families as much, and the premiums skyrocket as you add people. My current company is doubly bad for me, because they don't punish the breeders who have 6 kids with higher premiums. Some places charge per kid.

BAS still ends up a pretty good deal, I don't get to deduct the unsubsidized lunch I eat at work from my taxes.

I am not really arguing to take military benefits away, if anything, I think we should strive to make the civilian world look more like the military in terms of costs, especially for healthcare, which is a ridiculously high cost for most people.

I think there is a lot of people in the military who don't understand how good their benefits really are, and how much money they actually make. I remember frequently hearing about how much more money people were going to make on the outside and frankly, it might be true for enlisted nukes who can actually pull down a substantial raise right out the gate, but almost everybody else is going to take a net cut in pay once you adjust for all of the benefits.

The only part I find annoying is how many military members disparage people on government benefits, but threaten to cut their future retirement they suddenly become dyed-in-the-wool socialists. But that's mostly just because it's being a hypocrite.

12/18/2013 5:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:47

UAVs and AUVs are Autonomous, they do not require communication to/from a parent submarine/pillbox in Nebraska to function.

As such, only the UAV would have to radiate in the EM spectrum, and then only when it had something to report (such as streaming video).

As to the retirement discussion, it helps offset the opportunity cost of a military career. Very similar to the police officer discussion. To use an EMC(SS) as an analogy for career transition is disingenuous and is one of the most extreme examples you could have used, as almost 100% of what they did in the military transitions to a civilian career. Most of the military learn and practice skills that have very little civilian cross-over. While their friends were working up certifications, real-world job experience, and making connections in their industry - the service-member was doing patrols in rural Afghanistan, filing paperwork at a FOB, or doing repair-work to a tank. Naturally some jobs have an easier transition, but even the best transition jobs (like Navy Nuke) put you at a disadvantage when you get out in your 40's. There you are, in your 40's, and at best you can walk into a NLRO job, because the navy does not provide you with the training and licensure necessary to be a RO or SRO. Meanwhile, your friend who didn't serve, worked his way up to SRO 10 years before you were eligible to retire, has a wall full of credentials and licenses, and is far more employable than you will be.

12/18/2013 6:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:47

UAVs and AUVs are Autonomous, they do not require communication to/from a parent submarine/pillbox in Nebraska to function.

As such, only the UAV would have to radiate in the EM spectrum, and then only when it had something to report (such as streaming video).

As to the retirement discussion, it helps offset the opportunity cost of a military career. Very similar to the police officer discussion. To use an EMC(SS) as an analogy for career transition is disingenuous and is one of the most extreme examples you could have used, as almost 100% of what they did in the military transitions to a civilian career. Most of the military learn and practice skills that have very little civilian cross-over. While their friends were working up certifications, real-world job experience, and making connections in their industry - the service-member was doing patrols in rural Afghanistan, filing paperwork at a FOB, or doing repair-work to a tank. Naturally some jobs have an easier transition, but even the best transition jobs (like Navy Nuke) put you at a disadvantage when you get out in your 40's. There you are, in your 40's, and at best you can walk into a NLRO job, because the navy does not provide you with the training and licensure necessary to be a RO or SRO. Meanwhile, your friend who didn't serve, worked his way up to SRO 10 years before you were eligible to retire, has a wall full of credentials and licenses, and is far more employable than you will be.

12/18/2013 6:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known retired Chiefs that have walked into instant SRO Programs. The Navy Nuke pipeline is really not a good comparable, because it actually does give a good shot at post-Navy employment.

I think you are right that the dude walking around the 'Stan with a rifle and a 90 IQ is the better example.

12/18/2013 8:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sailors helping with fukushima supposedly having radiation-related injuries. Anyone else know anything about this?

http://www.stripes.com/in-growing-lawsuit-servicemembers-fault-tepco-for-radiation-related-illnesses-1.230512

12/18/2013 8:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The only part I find annoying is how many military members disparage people on government benefits, but threaten to cut their future retirement they suddenly become dyed-in-the-wool socialists. But that's mostly just because it's being a hypocrite."

I don't know how you can equate working for a living or receiving benefits for being wounded in the line of duty with receiving money for doing nothing. They are not the same aside from the fact that they come from the same employer.

Maybe you're just too far removed, but I welcome you to go onto a submarine, look a nuke in the eye, and tell him he's a welfare queen for working 60-80 hour weeks in-port and 60 hour weeks underway to keep the ship on station.

12/18/2013 8:29 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:25 AM

The "Instant SRO program" is not actually an instant SRO. It takes 1-2 years of intense training to get your license as an SRO. You don't come out with EOOW/EWS quals and walk right in to SRO, because you are not licensed.

12/18/2013 8:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://calculator.gijobs.com/

Calculate it for an E-4 over 3 submariner, and adjust the civilian health care down a bit (their assumed vision and dental costs are a little high, IMO). I get something around $58K/year.

They're not welfare queens, but let's not act like they are unfairly compensated. How many 21 year olds without a high school education do you know that make 58K/year+? Yeah, it's a hard job, but so are a lot of other jobs.

I'm not saying that military members don't deserve what they get, there are parts of the life that legitimately suck (hey, I got out, right?). All I'm saying is think twice before you start looking too hard at other people's federal pensions, social security, or Medicare. As those programs get whittled down, or contributions go up, a lifetime, inflation-adjusted retirement at 37 + heavily subsidized health care + $100K for College education for your kids starts looking egregious.

I am using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, I get VA disability. Believe me, I'm not disparaging these programs. I benefit from them and am thankful for the help. I'm also aware that other people work hard at their jobs while contributing to Social Security, Medicare, and federal pensions. If Congress gets a bug to start going after payroll and entitlements, the military is unlikely to be spared forever, and I think it's a fool's game for AD members to promote cutting entitlements and federal pensions, because they will likely be next.

I will say that VA benefits appear to be screwed up, but mostly because they are not generous enough and scale in weird ways. I mostly would like to see more money going to people who say, lose limbs, and less to people who have like "manageable Back Pain".

12/18/2013 3:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an under 62 retiree, I don't have a problem with the reduced increase- except- somehow Congress hasn't seen fit to deny ILLEGAL immigrants, people who have broken our law, EITC. And several states believe it's not OK to give veterans in-state tuition, while giving it freely to ILLEGAL immigrants who are here in violation of out laws.

12/18/2013 4:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

** Above I meant to say without a COLLEGE education, not high-school

12/18/2013 4:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That calculator is a little off for a typical E-4, single, no dependents, and fit as a fiddle.

Healthcare costs for that person would amount to about $2400-3600/year under Obamacare in most states. Without Obamacare, this person would probably pay almost nothing in healthcare barring a catastrophe.

Dental: $100 for two semi-annual checkups. No need for insurance.

Vision: No cost if healthy vision. Besides, the military doesn't pay for contacts.

Also, they factor in BAH, which an E-4 living in the barracks isn't entitled to. Yea, you'll have to get an apartment but in most places outside of metropolitan areas, a single person with a roommate or two can rent for under $500/mo.

All told you can knock $5-7k off their estimate for a single E-4, 21, and perfectly healthy.

And to answer your question: Anyone who spent a year in school learning to be an electrician or mechanic could be making $50k/year by the time he is 21 provided he has the maturity to show up to work on time and listen more than he talks, and he would work 2/3 to 1/2 the amount of hours doing it. Go to a 2 year IT school to get your certs and you can make $75-80k to fix computers at a company, which is a lot more than ITS3(SS) is making when adjusted for time spent at work.

So to bat it back: it's not terrible, but let's not act like it's a superstar paycheck that is unobtainable by other means. It's not difficult to break the $50k/year mark without a college education.

12/18/2013 7:38 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Median salary for a high school educated 25-34 year old is $29,950. I would say making roughly double that (i basically think that the barracks room is probably worth about $500 per month) 4 years earlier is pretty damn good.

Is it POSSIBLE to make more? Yeah, but it's only about 25% of people that manage to figure out how to do it. What's the average nuke making at 25? He's definitely put on E5 maybe E6. He's probably clearing 65 or 70K, which would definitely put him well above average for a high school qualified 25 year old.

Further, TRICARE is bomb-ass triple gold plated insurance. Anything you are getting free off the marketplace does not compare at all. Zero deductible, little bullshit outside of incompetence.

Not so much grunts, but Navy nukes are pretty easily I. The top 20% or so of pay for their demographic splits (assuming they don't get degrees while in-service) throughout their career.

Is it fair pay? Absolutely, the job sucks and there are massive amounts of bullshit. I fully hated being active duty. But looking back, I can say the benefits and pay were top notch.

12/18/2013 9:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The median salary for a high school graduate is driven down by cultural norms that tell normally capable people to go to college even if they don't know that they want a career that requires a degree. The pool of people with only high school diplomas and under 22 are not going to be the cream of the crop.

You're comparing a nuke's training and salary to someone who graduates high school and works retail or in restaurants when you quote the median.

It's a better comparison to compare a nuke's income with someone who has gone to trade school because that's essentially what the Navy does for most rates -- puts someone through 6 months-2 years of watered down trade school and sends you to a ship for OJT.

And while you would have to front the cost to get certifications for being a mechanic, or an IT guy, or an electrician, or whatever in the civilian world, you can make equally if not better pay than a nuke doing it on the backend. Once you adjust for hours worked it's a no brainer. And if we're going to compare them to submarine cone rates who don't get accelerated advancement, the monetary compensation isn't even close.

Tricare is top-notch triple gold plated insurance my ass. Yea, you don't pay anything, but you get what you pay for -- endless red tape to see a an actual physician, if you hit a PCM who thinks it hurts his pride to give a referral then you're SOL. And most service members really don't need to consume that healthcare. It's primarily there for the ones who get wounded in combat.

Without chronic care for the wounded and retired benefits, projected healthcare costs for the military would drop something like 40-60%.

12/18/2013 10:26 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salaries for trades comparable to a snipe's job description with 2-5 years experience:

Electrician
http://www1.salary.com/Electrician-II-Salary.html

Auto Mechanic
http://www1.salary.com/Automotive-Mechanic-II-Salary.html

IT entry level:
http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Information-Technology-Generalist-Salary-Details.aspx

Industrial maintenance tech:
http://swz.salary.com/SalaryWizard/Industrial-Engineering-Technician-II-Salary-Details.aspx

Industrial machinery mechanics:
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes499041.htm

As you can see, the Navy doesn't really do much better than people doing a similar job for the same amount of time. Also, people can get paid OT, bonuses, etc that aren't included in those figures, whereas in the Navy you just get told to work longer.

12/18/2013 10:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging by the ch----en sh-t behaviour of COs in San Diego Harbor and their prolific use of 5-short blasts against every yacht/pleasure craft on that particular part of the planet, 500 yards must have scared the be-Jesus out of them. Perhaps if we did more manoueuvring in company rather than Night Steaming Boxes, we might not be so trepiditious of a ship at Standard Distance (whatever that may be).

12/19/2013 3:12 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get the distinct feeling that you are still Active Duty. Take it from somebody that probably hated the Navy more than you and probably talked more shit about how bad the pay and benefits were in the Navy... Now that I have a few years of perspective, the pay and benefits in the Navy submarine force are pretty good (I agree it is less so for coners).


I agree with you that it is "possible" to make as much money as being in the Navy in other jobs, but very few people do it. In fact, I would suggest that not even close to all of the Navy Nukes would be in the trades if they hadn't joined the Navy.

I have a distinctly intimate relationship with various healthcare entities. My wife is disabled and thus qualifies for Medicare. Because of various job changes in and out of AD and Reserves, I have dealt very closely with Tricare Prime, TRICARE Standard, Tricare For Life, Medicare, Aetna, and BCBS. Administratively, they all suck pretty equally. Most of the billing problems I have had have surrounded around BCBS and Aetna, because their process are less standard. My wife's Medicare stuff is always right, her Tricare stuff has sometimes been screwed up but they never argue about paying. Medicare is pretty much never screwed up because hospitals go through such a large volume of Medicare patients. The biggest hurdle there is explaining why a 27 year old has Medicare. Right now I have a bill that I have been trying to get corrected with BCBS for over a year. Medicare was the only place that was able to tell me what BCBS had screwed up. When I had problem with TRICARE, I could just call them and they pretty much always took care of it in one phone call.

I don't like the chop shop, but never really had a problem with them personally. My wife did, and we switched her to TRICARE Standard. TRICARE standard is the single best medical insurance available. Period. Probably its only fault is that it doesn't have an abortion rider for people that would want it, and their prescription list is not as comprehensive as private options. But it's so much cheaper than any other option, you will have to be on some seriously expensive non-covered prescriptions to ever make up the fact that you have a $1000 per family deductible, rather than a $5000 deductible. And it's free! I pay almost 10% of my salary a year to Medical premiums and deductibles (we max out annually because of my wife's medical problems). You honestly cannot find insurance as good on the marketplace, or anywhere else. I'm not saying it's perfect, it isn't, but in the outside world, insurance pretty much sucks too.

12/19/2013 9:43 AM

 
Anonymous SparkyWT said...

In the budget deal new federal employees have to contribute more toward their retirement than those hired before 2013. The older employees were grandfathered. I have not heard of any change to Congressional/Senate/Presidential retirements.

As for the Retiree & Veteran's changes, we seem to be the only organization that Congress feels it can change the rules on at their whim. If you meet the statute DoD/Service requirements, you've fulfilled your portion of the contract with the gov't and earned an agreed upon benefit. In the civilian world, this change would be construed as a gross Breach of Contract suit. Furthermore as military requirement is covered under Title 10.A.Chapter 71, Sections 1401/1401a of the US Code, changing this law that retroactively affects existing citizens violates Art 1, Section 9 of the Constitution; “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed”. But we're dealing with an imperious political body that believes we don't represent a significant enough voting pool to threaten them on election day -- and they're right.

Federal employees have a union. The over 55 crowd has AARP and a few other orgs -- plus sizable numbers. The poor/welfare/ illegal crowd has an alphabet soup of organizations that can really hurt the politicians (especially when it comes to democrat votes). What do we have; the VA, retired XX org, American Legion? These are too disparate to truly affect any outcome in DC. Furthermore, our senior officers and enlisted advisors won't defy the civilian leadership to any great extent.

We are 1% of the population and our voice is insignificant. Unless we all move to a very sparsely populated state where we can become the majority voting bloc, we will remain the easy target for future cuts.

If there are any lawyers on this blog, do you see any way to challenge this based upon US Code violation/ unconstutitionality?

12/19/2013 9:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous@ 9:43am:

You're bouncing around all over the place and keep comparing apples to oranges.

Your original premise is that a 21 year old single E-4 nuke is making a lot more money than he would be on the outside.

My premise is that he's making an extra $5-10k (which is about 10-20% more) than what he would be in a comparable job for working 50-67% more hours and having a much poorer quality of life. Maybe, barring Naval service, those nukes wouldn't be working as an electrician or industrial mechanic. It's moot, we can only compare apples to apples and people doing a similar blue collar industrial maintenance job can make easily make $50k+ after 2-5 years experience. You are mistaken if you think otherwise and it's a false comparison to compare that pay to the pay of someone working fast food or retail.

Tricare standard is good insurance, but a single E-4 nuke isn't using that unless he gets wounded in the line of duty. He's using Tricare prime and most of his health concerns are going to be handled by corpsman. That's my point. So is your issue that Tricare is too good for dependents?

Stop looking at O-3 over 5 YCS pay with COPAY added on and a wife with chronic healthcare needs as the gold standard for what enlisted servicemembers make. If you crunch the numbers, the only 'good deal' for enlisted servicemembers is to get out after 4 and use $70k+ in GI bill benefits. If you are an otherwise capable person, which most nukes are, it is not difficult to make more money on the outside.

12/19/2013 1:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So an E-4 over 3 makes roughly 10-15% more than he could on the outside. Now what if he star re-enlists? Now he's making ~70K... Maybe even higher depending on what the multiples are these days. Add on a dependent and take on another $8K a year in BAH/BAS/Family Separation.

If you think there is a wide variety of opportunity for 21-25 year olds to make mid 70's without a college degree you are mistaken. It is possible, sure, but I think it's foolish to think that every nuke would have the initiative or knowledge to go seek out blue collar technical jobs if they didn't join the Navy. 25% of them would be working at Gamestop or Best Buy, for no other reason than they didn't know about better opportunities or how to access them.

Look, if it's so easy to make the big bucks in the outside world fresh out of high school, why are all the highly intelligent Navy Nukes (and they are highly intelligent!) doing that instead of getting screwed out of house and home underwater in a tin can? Does Meineke give you $100K for a college education after you quit? Will they give you a raise if you get married? Do they have a million dollar inflation adjusted retirement at 38?

My issue isn't that TRICARE is too good for anybody, or that the benefits are TOO generous only that:
1) Recognize that they definitely are at least good.
2) Recognize from the outside looking in, for somebody that never had to field day or get treated like a 12 year old by some Ensign straight out of the Academy, they look OUTSTANDING.

That's it. They are a juicy target for cutting because relatively few people receive them, they are expensive, and they are more generous than what people in the civilian world get.

If you think that Joe on the street is going to be convinced that a kid with 3 years of experience "only" makes $58K a year in bonuses, benefits, and pay, and thus we should take food out of the poor kid's mouth, or take money from Grandma is a winning argument over the long term, I think you are probably mistaken.

For the record, I don't think we should do ANY of those things, I just think it's both hypocritical and bad political strategy for people that are eligible for over $1 million dollars of government largesse to suggest that we need to cut taxes, social security, Medicare, and food stamps but must preserve their gold plated retirement plans. For better or worse, I think the long-term benefit levels for the military are tied tightly to the long term benefits of Medicare and Social Security because military benefits will look more and more generous as the latter two decline.

12/19/2013 2:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, as Iraqistan fades into memory, people will see less reason to hook up people who are no longer "defending the country" in the eyes of the public. (Yes, I realize there will still be deployments, but most people do not)

12/19/2013 2:55 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So an E-4 over 3 makes roughly 10-15% more than he could on the outside. Now what if he star re-enlists? Now he's making ~70K... Maybe even higher depending on what the multiples are these days. Add on a dependent and take on another $8K a year in BAH/BAS/Family Separation."

There you go changing the goal posts again.

Someone who STAR reenlists is committing to at least 8 years of service. You don't think someone who works as hard as a nuke does in their field can make $70k by the time they are 26? I'm not talking possible, but fairly likely?

Yea, if you pissed away your college degree on liberal arts bullshit or decided to fuck around in retail for a few years, you won't make it. But if you learn how to do something useful and demonstrate yourself to be reliable and competent, it's fairly easy to be a big fish in a small pond.

I'll give you that the GI bill is a great deal, but you have to get out to use it. It's certainly a benefit that someone gets, but it's somewhere in no-man's-land when trying to compare compensation because someone who makes a career of the military won't actually use it.

As for why people go nuke: Usually it's because they learned the hard way that they should search the interwebs over believing a recruiter.

Now, as for the PR stuff, I fully agree. It is not helpful to respond to a 1% cut to CPI increases of retirement with parading pictures of wounded and dead servicemembers (notice it's a cut on increases, which means retirees will still make more money next year than this year, just not as much more). It's going to get old quick and our leadership needs to stick to the line that the military, similar to law enforcement or fire departments, spits people out at around 45 years old. They need to be compensated for the fact that they must go do something else entirely because the military needs people who are willing to stay in that long. While the retirement benefits is better than someone who, say, works at JP Morgan, JP Morgan won't kick you out of the finance industry altogether at 45.

Finally, a 21 year old operating a nuclear powered warship is not a 'kid,' and the median age of an enlisted person with 3 years of service is something like 24 or 25 years old.

12/19/2013 9:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to add to the above:

I kind of understand where you're coming from in that I felt well compensated as an officer. However, I would never let anyone I know enlist in the submarine force. There is no gain over doing the same job in the surface fleet and spending a lot less time at work doing it.

12/19/2013 9:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are better ways to help cut DoD costs. I know about a lot of O5 retirees that get out, and move into a GS14/15 job they just created. Maybe they should stop allowing the double-dipping.

12/20/2013 9:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are being overly optimistic about the career prospects of MOST enlisted submarine nukes if they had not joined the Navy. I think they do work very hard, but it's also largely not by choice. I worked hard during my JO tour too, but guarantee you I wouldn't have been putting in 80 hour weeks if I thought I could get away with not doing it. I am pretty sure everybody in my division felt the same way.

I also think that they are capable of making a similar amount of money on the outside world, but most would not actually do so. The fact that they are joining the Navy at all suggests that they don't have a line of sight to some equal or better job.

Yes, those jobs exist, but many people lack the knowledge or connections to access them readily.


Off-topic somewhat:

If somebody asked me about the military, I also would not tell them to go join the submarine force. The few young people that have asked me about it, I tell to go to the Air Force, because the quality of life is better, or have directed them elsewhere (like the trades) because I thought they would enjoy that more.

I am more FTN than just about anybody, and think that the Navy was a mistake for me, but recognize that it is also the only easily visible step to a better life for many people.I don't think it is clear-cut that the Navy is a screw-job for everybody. You might want to think that your personal distaste for it colors how you see the cost-benefit equation of the Navy as a whole.

12/20/2013 12:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are better ways to help cut DoD costs. I know about a lot of O5 retirees that get out, and move into a GS14/15 job they just created. Maybe they should stop allowing the double-dipping.

This and contracting are kind of a scam, IMO. There are a lot of do-nothings floating around various DOD and contractor jobs whose only skills seems to be "successfully completed XX years in the military" and "Is a body that can be billed to the government".

Contractors and procurement is where money should be saved.

12/20/2013 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ anon 12pm,

Look, I think you're painting with a broad brush. People join the Navy for all sorts of reasons, many of which as a stepping-stone to going to college. I think a lot of nukes would not pursue blue collar maintenance careers had they not joined the Navy because kids who are as book smarts as nukes are generally discouraged from doing so. But the point is that those jobs are out there and available, nukes would be able to obtain them if they tried, and the Navy doesn't pay its nukes out of line with what they would make in the civilian world doing it. Comparing a nuke's pay and benefits to a McDonald's worker because they both have 'just a high school education' is not a good comparison.

As far as FTN, I'm not FTN. I wouldn't let anyone I know enlist in the sub force because they could get the same training and experience while enjoying their own rack, a personal locker, fresh air, and 4+ section duty inport. I think that the post 9/11 GI bill is a great deal and if you don't have a way to pay for college, serving in the Navy for 4-6 years is a great way to get an education on the backend and also have some job experience on your resume. But when it comes to making an enlisted career out of the Navy, in which you don't use the GI bill, it is not difficult to break those pay and benefits in the civilian world.

And when it comes to some MOSs in the Army/USMC (or even Navy), you might not get skills that maintain your earning power when you retire at 38-48. But the military needs those experienced enlisted personnel (just like PDs and FDs need experienced people), so that's why it pays out retirement so early.

12/21/2013 9:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, to tie this back into the 'great deal' that retirement is:

An E-7 with 20 years of service retiring from Groton to TX (I just picked a state out of a hat to retire to with low income tax) would have to make $102k as a civilian in order to equal his military salary and benefits, according to the website posted. His retirement pay is ~$25.5k, or 1/4 of what he is used to living on.

12/22/2013 10:18 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@10:18-

The great deal of retirement is not in the amount of the pension but in the work required to receive it following retirement.

12/22/2013 10:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are 42 years old and have 3 children aged 14, 10, and 8. You are a GySgt in the USMC with an infantry MOS and have to retire because you FTS E8. How do you plan on supporting a family of 5 on $25.5k-30k a year. Who is going to hire you for $75k starting to equal your pay?

It's a great deal until you realize that it's peanuts and you were better off getting out after 4 years and career transitioning then.

12/22/2013 4:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question for an attorney....or sea lawyer wrt recent COLA reductions.

I enlisted in the Navy after 1986, and therefore was required to choose between two retirement plans. At the 15 year point members are required to choose between 1) High Three Avg or 2) CSB/REDUX. CSB/REDUX is a two-part deal. It includes a $30,000 bonus, but also results in a reduced retired pay. One of the "reduced retirement pay" elements is COLA minus 1% until age 62.

I elected High 3 and declined the $30,000 as I wanted to keep COLA intact.

I am now awarded a COLA minus 1% by our government and out $30K.

I am sure there are others asking the same question.

12/23/2013 1:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An E-7 with 20 years of service retiring from Groton to TX (I just picked a state out of a hat to retire to with low income tax) would have to make $102k as a civilian in order to equal his military salary and benefits, according to the website posted. His retirement pay is ~$25.5k, or 1/4 of what he is used to living on.

Again... What career can you work in in the Civilian sector where you can earn $100K/year with a lifetime, Cost-adjusted retirement in 20 years without a college degree?

That's a lot, even for the trades.

12/23/2013 1:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And again, what civilian employer is going to kick you out of the industry altogether in 20 years?

You aren't looking at the whole picture when you say that. If GySgt Smith was allowed to stay in the USMC and do something productive until he was 60-70 years old, you'd have a point. If he was able to build equity in a house and have a wife pursue a career, you might have a point. But he doesn't have those options, and at 42 years old, assuming he enlisted at 18, he will be told he has to go as an E-7.

You take away that retirement benefit, you take away any incentive to stay in a career that is going to spit you out in your 40s, especially for the ratings and MOSs that don't translate well to civilian jobs.

Perhaps the DoD would do better to craft pay and retirement benefits more closely to one's military specialty, since for example, a nuke ETC's post-Navy employment prospects are going to be decidedly better than an infantry GySgt because the nuke spent 20-24 years building technical job skills and technical management skills while the GySgt did not.

12/23/2013 3:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One final note:

The AD pay looks so good in part because BAH is becoming inflated. Everywhere I've PCS'ed to, the landlords knew what BAH was and it was almost impossible to haggle with them because they know that they'd get the next Sailor to buy off on the place. It is to the point where I pay about 25% more in rent than I would if I were to have a 15 year mortgage on a similar sized property, and I don't get to build equity while doing it. Balfour Beaty and its miniature, over-priced duplexes isn't much better.

12/23/2013 3:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that some of you are under the delusion that you are owed a living for the rest of your life. Nearly everyone in today signed up when the military was offering the most generous retirement package in the world. The idea that being paid to do nothing from about age 40 for the rest of your life is a raw deal simply floors me.

12/23/2013 3:19 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And again, what civilian employer is going to kick you out of the industry altogether in 20 years?"

Many companies push employees out in informal ways after a "certain age". I have certainly worked place where there were very few employees over 45.

This is not completely unique to the military

12/23/2013 4:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that some of you are under the delusion that you are owed a living for the rest of your life. Nearly everyone in today signed up when the military was offering the most generous retirement package in the world. The idea that being paid to do nothing from about age 40 for the rest of your life is a raw deal simply floors me.

There is a long leap from being able to continue making a living doing what you have been doing for the last 20 years, and being 'owed a living.' I agree that no one is owed a living, but if you want servicemembers to stick around more than 4-6 years but kick them out after 20-30, then the military needs to compensate them for that. And when you put the compensation into perspective, it ain't a whole lot. You view it as being paid to do nothing. I view it as being paid a poverty wage if you are supporting a family, which most people are at the age of 38-48.

Many companies push employees out in informal ways after a "certain age". I have certainly worked place where there were very few employees over 45.

Bullshit. The lowest unemployment numbers in 2009 were people aged 45-65. Some jobs might force people out, but the biggest income earners in the U.S. are working baby boomers.

12/23/2013 6:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I view it as being paid a poverty wage if you are supporting a family, which most people are at the age of 38-48."

Maybe you should change your view, then. Couldn't hurt to look on the bright side of things.

12/23/2013 7:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bullshit. The lowest unemployment numbers in 2009 were people aged 45-65. Some jobs might force people out, but the biggest income earners in the U.S. are working baby boomers.

That would totally explain why median income for people aged 55-64 is less than for people aged 45-54 and why 55-64 has been the second hardest hit in terms of real income over the last ten years (after the 16-24 year olds). Or why Age discrimination claims with the EEOC have grown by about 40% in the last 15 years.

Unfortunately, I can't find U6 unemployment by age group, which I think is what would actually settle this.

12/23/2013 8:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it that hard to type unemployment by age into Google?

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/business/Unemployment_by_Age2.JPG

http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea10.htm

Also, your median income levels don't filter out retirees, which is why income drops in the 55+ age group. WORKING boomers have the highest median income in America.

12/23/2013 9:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's U3 unemployment, I was specifically talking about U6.

I gather you don't know the difference.


I can tell you that 45-54 have had larger percentage decreases in real income than any other age group over the last 15 years. 55-64 have had the lowest, but I expect that to be due to the early availability of Social Security.

http://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Household-Incomes-by-Age-Brackets.php

Are you really suggesting that age discrimination is not a thing at all? It just doesn't exist?

12/24/2013 8:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are also forgetting that there is this whole entire government jobs programs called the DoD which hires underqualified retirees for all sorts of jobs where they can do piss-poor jobs at things they are not really qualified to do, making more money than any private-sector, non-contractor would pay them. There is plenty of opportunity for military retirees, usually in the same office they retire from.

12/24/2013 8:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's go back to this hypothetical gunny pushed into retirement. So he's looking at $25K per year for the rest of his life. Let's say he lives from retirement at 40 until the age of 80. That's 40 years of this stipend, which amounts to an even million dollars of taxpayer money in exchange for no services rendered. How many 40 year olds with no college do you know who have a million dollars in their IRA/401(k)? Throw in the fact that he paid exactly nothing into this system and it ought to start looking pretty good.

12/24/2013 11:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, stop dodging the facts. I can't find U6 unemployment numbers, either, but there are fewer part-time 55+ year old part-time employees than 25-55 yo part-time employees:

http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea18.htm

U6 vs U3 is inconsequential.

I'm not suggesting that age discrimination doesn't exist. I'm suggesting it's a lot more rare than you make it out to be. And if we're going by raw unemployment figures alone, they would suggest that there is age discrimination against males under 30.

The 45-54 age group had the biggest wage hit in the last 10 years, but they still make the highest wages of any age group (all of which took a significant hit to real wages in the last 10 years except the 65+ age group). And the drop isn't necessarily from unemployment. Your original claim was that many industries will force people out in their 40s, which isn't supported just by looking at wage trends.

12/24/2013 4:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, there is not enough information to really verify either argument. Here is what I think is happening, but BLS statistics don't go into enough detail to confirm this:

- In general, Older Workers get laid off less, but also have a harder time finding new work (this is basically proven in various studies)
- Once laid off, older workers KNOW they won't be able to find work, and thus leave the labor force entirely by applying for disability or "retiring early" (I think this is basically supported by declining workforce participation in age 55-64 and skyrocketing disability claims during the recession, but there is no real way to separate "real retirement" from "forced retirement" in the statistics.
- These changes are distributed unequally through the income ranges, meaning that lower income workers get screwed first. This is basically a common-sense statement, that assumes 1) Lower-wage positions are more likely to be the type of labor that gets harder with age 2) Higher income individuals are more likely to have a hand in deciding the layoffs. This is what I think drives up Median Income for older Americans.
- 40 Is too aggressive to suggest this is where problems start.

I never said this:
Your original claim was that many industries will force people out in their 40s, which isn't supported just by looking at wage trends.

I said many COMPANIES. Which is a very different thing. There are places where this happens, and just judging by the size of the American Economy I am extrapolating this out to "Many".

Honestly, there is nothing you can say that will make me think that Military Retirement and benefits are nothing other than the most generous government giveaway available. There is literally no other place you can work that is like it, outside of Congress.

Again, maybe it's deserved, but I take issue with the idea that military members MUST have exceedingly generous retirements as a matter-of-course or the idea that A million dollar inflation-protected lifelong annuity and highly subsidized health care is some sort of screw-job.

There is some merit to the idea that the military prepares you poorly for civilian careers, but that is definitely not universally true and depends very much on your military career and what you choose to do afterwards. I saw lots of pretty worthless retirees in government DOD and contracting jobs when I was active duty. I'm pretty sure none of them were working for poverty wages.

12/26/2013 3:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, there is not enough information to really verify either argument. Here is what I think is happening...

Again, I don't think that unofficial forced retirement is as prevalent as you say. I think it exists, but like you said now we're just going in circles with no definitive stats to tell the story. I think it's fair to say that retirement is the cause of why the 55-64 age group makes less money than the 45-54 age group and even the 35-44 age group (although they all are within +/- $2000 of $80,000 a year), but it's impossible to tell how many people were unofficially forced to retire.

I do think that if this were a frequent issue that the 55-64 age group wouldn't still be making, on average, $78,000/year per household with a median of $57,000/year per household in 2010.

I said many COMPANIES. Which is a very different thing. There are places where this happens, and just judging by the size of the American Economy I am extrapolating this out to "Many".

If we're talking specific companies and not entire industries, the comparison is apples to oranges. The military doesn't kick you out of its company, it's kicking you out of its industry (38-48 is too old to start a new career in LE, which is probably the closest analogue for ground-pounders). You can't be forced to retire from the USMC and get hired as an E8 in the USAF.

Honestly, there is nothing you can say that will make me think that Military Retirement and benefits are nothing other than the most generous government giveaway available. There is literally no other place you can work that is like it, outside of Congress.

Law enforcement. Work 25-30 years, collect 100% retirement based on average of top 3 years of pay. Full health benefits with $0 out-of-pocket expenses for you and all of your dependents up until the age of 26 BEFORE Obamacare mandated that stipulation.

Again, maybe it's deserved, but I take issue with the idea that military members MUST have exceedingly generous retirements as a matter-of-course or the idea that A million dollar inflation-protected lifelong annuity and highly subsidized health care is some sort of screw-job.

And I'm still wondering what you expect a 24 year GySgt to do immediately following forced retirement to support his family. I'm also wondering how you think he'd be able to support said family on $28,000/year without going to work somewhere.

There is some merit to the idea that the military prepares you poorly for civilian careers, but that is definitely not universally true and depends very much on your military career and what you choose to do afterwards. I saw lots of pretty worthless retirees in government DOD and contracting jobs when I was active duty. I'm pretty sure none of them were working for poverty wages.

You can't assume every retiree is going to find a cushy DoD job that takes care of the good ol' boys club.

Are you saying that the branches need to cater their benefits and retirements separately and even down to the specific ratings/MOS? I'd be okay with that because the military needs people to stick around for 20 years in careers that will not give the person skills to obtain a new career on the backend. I agree that someone who spent 24 years as an ET nuke has much better post-military employment prospects than a 24 year BMC.

12/27/2013 4:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Usually by now someone would have remarked that they don't issue you a family in your seabag...

12/27/2013 5:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which might not be the dumbest cliche that fat, lazy, incompetent, and divorced Chiefs say to excuse their piss-poor leadership of junior Sailors, but it definitely ranks in the top 5.

12/27/2013 11:18 PM

 
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