Avoiding a Pilot Retention Death Spiral: The Pilot Shortage and DOD's Challenge to Maintain an Effective Fighting Force
Technical Report,31 Jul 2017,09 Apr 2018
Joint Forces Staff College / NDU NORFOLK United States
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The U.S. Department of Defense DOD faces a pilot shortage. Examination of the current pilot shortage reveals that external pressure from commercial aviation, changes in Congress, legislation, and internal DOD actions exacerbate existing problems within the DOD aviation recruitment and retention programs. Commercial pilot retirements combined with a growing global economy create significant pilot shortages and ample opportunity for military pilots to leave the service. Congressional failure to pass on-time budgets and provide fiscal certainty undermine DOD attempts to retain pilots by forcing DOD to make compromises that negatively affect pay, readiness, quality of life, quality of service, and focus on the mission. The current conditions encourage commercial airlines to benefit from the military investment, while budget limitations force DOD to make choices between systems and personnel, and Congress fails to provide long-term strategic guidance that would alleviate stresses on the system. Without adjustments, the current system will prove unsustainable and without benefit to any stakeholder over the next decade.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations