Biggest Issue: Communications at every level

PERSTEMPO (see comments on homesteading): not the issue; the difference is between OPTEMPO and DEPTEMPO—feel DEPTEMPO is OK (evidenced by reenlistment in frequently deployed units) if the mission is a good one, you are given responsibility and authority, and have the support of superiors; problem is tasking in garrison (make work; leadership unwilling to say enough is enough)

Personnel Issues

Family Issues




Leadership Issues

Job Factors



Reasons for Captain Attrition:

--Perception of "no 1 block, no future" or at least a reduction of options. Potential now seems to be determined earlier and earlier in a career. No room for "late bloomers;" no ability to overcome a 2 block.

Importance of Issues to Career Decisions (10=High; 1=Low):

Impact of PERSTEMPO on Career Decisions:

Officer "say" in reassignment process:

Very Branch dependent. A majority believe they have a reasonable amount of input with assignment officers.

Reaction to the following phrases:

PowerPoint Army: Form over substance; over reliance on computers; use of computer and info systems micro-management and enforcement of "zero-defects"

Peace-keeping: Reality; relevance; 21st century; loss of focus on warfighting skills; problem to be solved.

Micro-management: Worse every day; over reliance on email and statistics; more stats=less judgment; less face-to-face contact with superiors; more management and less leadership; linked to zero-defects culture; loss of human dimension; social alienation; info systems provide opportunity to task in 5 seconds without due thought to time required to accomplish the task (action tasked, action completed mindset)

Mentoring: Less time given to building true camaraderie and esprit de corps; trend toward mentors as politicians; some good happening; lost art in some branches (particularly CSS); dissatisfaction of seniors influences juniors; leadership dependent; application is uneven across units and branches; some mentors concentrate on one or two officers and leave the rest; done right, it is the answer to zero defects and micromanagement.

Top-down loyalty: Character; ethics; accepting responsibility; related to zero-defects

Zero defects: No risks in training; getting worse; short assignments in key positions (XO/S3) magnifies errors, causes officers to be oriented on short-term results; field grade officers are biggest violators; leads to looking for culprit and the entire chain of command hangs.

Readiness reporting: Truth hurts but necessary; seniors MUST set the example; lots of this inflation left from drawdown--it is over but culture hasn't caught up.

  1. Providing resources for realistic training. (Shortages of training ammunition/missiles is a current issue for Navy/Air Force flyers.)  This not only increases readiness but shows resolve by the services for their troops and influences morale.

  2. Everyone's a warrior. Combat training shouldn't be limited to combat arms. Case in point, the 2nd Class Petty Officer pulling duty in the mess decks for a whole cruise. Where's his or her feeling of accomplishment and esprit de corps? Why shouldn't a yeoman qualify on the pistol range annually?

  • they need to be like the bad leader to succeed or

  • that the Army rewards these bad leaders with promotion and further command, so they leave.

1) LT/CPT look at disgruntled Field Grades and say "We don’t want to be like them"

2) Warrior Ethos disappearing

3) Job versus Profession

4) Bureaucracy

5) Communications shortcomings

6) Deteriorating Trust in Senior leadership

7) Instability

8) Drawdown turbulence

9) Capturing exiting personnel data

10) Watering down of standards (Not really germane to this discussion but I include it)

11) Officer assessments

12) Is the Army’s Grass turning Brown?

13) Assignment Process



NOTE: Students think most of the reasons CPTs leave apply to Majors as well; 04s just have too much invested to get out. (Most perceive that the 10 year point is latest window - based on comments from corporate headhunters - to get out and get a decent start on the corporate ladder).



CPT attrition:

Reassignment Process:

Other reactions:

Strategic Issue: The Army has no strategic vision of its operational or training environment. (No one in the group offered to write one.)

Strategic Issue: The Senior Leadership does not inform the Force.

Strategic Issue: The Army leadership needs a Congressional Marketing Plan like the Air Force.

Assorted other comments/observations/recommendations:

  1. Recruit disabled persons in a limited capacity

  2. Lift the ban on homosexuals

  3. Provide 15-year contracts as other European countries do.

  4. Give $1,000 bonuses for every service member who signs up a person into the military

  5. Place recruiters right next to college campuses to sweep up the drop outs (when kids drop out of college, who better than to provide an alternative to 'Wendy’s')

  6. Conduct partnership with industry whereas soldiers in certain skill sets, are trained and work in the military for 5 years, and then are guaranteed a job with Fortune 500 companies.

Why has CPT attrition risen from 6.7% to 10.6% in the last 10 years?

Do you feel you truly have a say in you assignment process?

Yes - 6 No - 7 (This is a shocking number, to me!)

Impact of PERSTEMPO -

High PERSTEMPO is generally viewed as good by 'first termers', as they are doing what they signed up for. However, as they experience multiple deployments to the same places with the same mission, personnel get tired, as the tasks become drudgery. Especially true for 'High demand, low density' MOSs. Students stated that high PERSTEMPO units like the 82nd and 101st have high reenlistment rates.

Time between PCS moves -

Peacekeeping -

Narrative explanation of above comments:

First and foremost, this feedback is only as good as the action that is taken on it. We all agree that the decision to solicit this input is just a first step toward effectively solving the issues that we raise. It is not enough to simply "say" these issues will be collected and acted upon. Admittedly, we are somewhat pessimistic about this process. The fact that these comments will be collected, deciphered, "filtered" and passed through the chain of command, in our group’s opinion, bastardizes the process. If the CSA’s intent is to solicit free and unfettered input, then this process is not in keeping with his intent.

Likewise, if the CSA is truly concerned about retaining captains, a small but significant reflection of the larger quality of life issues troubling the army, than one hour of his time spent at Ft. Leavenworth is not enough. Actually, one hour each day is not enough. As senior representative for the army, he alone is in a position to truly place emphasis on quality of life issues. In times of uncertainty (which most would agree describes our current security environment), organizational experts from Mintzberg to Quinn to Gates suggest you concentrate on core strengths. There is no better time than now to focus on our army’s core strength- it’s people. Quality of life is the issue! The current exodus of captains is symptomatic of the decline in our army’s quality of life.

Most of what we outline below is a reflection of the issues endemic to all military members (single or married. Based on the issues we outline below, the stage they are in their lives, and the luxury of alternatives given today’s growth economy, it is not surprising that captains are deciding the costs of continued service exceed the benefits.

III. In the last ten years, voluntary CPT attrition has risen from 6.7% to 10.6%. Why are Captains getting out? The issues of a strong economy, numerous job opportunities, deployment frequency, and "doing more with less" are well understood. Are their other reasons?

1. Care for family is number one reason Captains are getting out…benefits, pay, medical & housing

  • too much money out of pocket for medical

  • better family benefits in the civilian sector

  • too long to see a doctor….especially a specialist

  • all the above just adds to family pressures

  • if people are the core of the army, then take care of the people

2. Too much micromanagement taking place.

  • Captains are told exactly how to do their jobs….can’t use their initiative

  • should receive mission oriented order and left along to do the job

  • being task at last minute to do something, then expected to work last or on the weekend to get it done

  • Captain’s are watching the officer’s above them….don’t like what they see in terms of working hours…..treatment by their superiors

3. Army is an admin army… not tactical…expectation is high quality training…not getting it

  • there is a lack of training across the board

  • the money for training is going toward other requirements..PK and other continuances

4. Quality time for family.

  • many officers feel they should work hard, but also be able to spend time with their family

  • should be no need for an 18 hours work day while in garrison

  • expectation is that while at school (CGSC) time should be available for family…..not seeing it

5. Just plain not having fun anymore.

  • feel they are being ask to conduct task/mission with inadequate resources

Narrative explanation of above bullets:

The first area we looked at is taking care of families. The theme of this discussion centered on the general decline in benefits and services (ranging from housing to medical to pay) that we’ve experienced in the past 8 to 10 years. Subordinate to this issue is spouse satisfaction. This is influenced by a number of other areas. One significant contributor to spouse dissatisfaction is the ever-decreasing number of benefits and services, as well as the quality of those benefits and services. What used to be taken for granted, in the way of benefits and services, is either no longer available or of such poor quality that military members look to alternative "out-of pocket" solutions instead. A second contributing factor is the increasing instability associated with frequent "open-ended" deployments and PCS transitions. Spouses are unable to establish any long-term employment or community relationships because of this instability. Lastly, the army relies on (some may say expects) military spouses (wives) to perform family support activities for which they are not paid, trained or resourced properly to perform. If the army must rely upon this form of "volunteering," then it must build institutionalize this service.

IV. What is the importance of the following issues in terms of making career decisions?

1. Quality of life issue is the most important.

  • job availability for spouse at new duty local

  • frequency of moves wear on entire family

  • spouses are unable to establish any long-term employment or community relationships because of this instability

  • spouses are forced into the AFTB program…many unit have quotas on number of spouses…end up becoming responsible for many other families

  • no assurance of career advancement….career is pretty much set

  • relook retirement program…..offer some type of vested system for job security sake

2. Leadership.

  • we have a checklist type of leadership….not a true leadership…senior leader are simple checking the block

  • examples are risk management, safety, CO2 training and homosexual training to mention a few

  • loss of trust in senior leadership….they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk…BAH as an example….they had to know about it….if not they were derelict in their duties

Narrative explanation of above bullets:

The second area addressed relates to a decline in professionalism and poor leadership. Though this is a difficult area to quantify, we did agree that some areas of leadership and professionalism have been replaced with "bureaucratic management" techniques. The information age, and its attendant information technology enhancements, has provided the army leadership with an opportunity to radically empower young leaders. Meaning to provide more information and the time and flexibility to operate independently, assuming they understand their task (ie. Have been properly trained and understand the intent). In reality however, the technology has been used to micromanage junior leaders, and the tasks they perform.

As we move further away from actual exercises, toward staff planning and simulation exercises, leaders are becoming more concerned with managing information than they are with being leaders.

Mentoring was discussed as well. We agreed it was not being done enough, and not effectively, in those cases it was being done. How many leaders actually attempt to mentor their subordinates because they want to (not because the army’s leadership manual prescribes it)?

Likewise, current leadership norms tend to consider anyone below the rank of major as "immature" and "irresponsible." The degree, to which junior officers are not treated as mature individuals across the entire spectrum of tasks performed, is a significant issue.

We also talked about retirement benefit options in some detail. Captains are in a position to leave the service and seek employment with companies offering competitive 401(k) programs that do not hold them to beyond a five-year commitment. Perhaps it is time for the army to reevaluate the duration of our service member’s retirement commitment. Given their alternatives, and the fact that historically, young people are less prone to making long-term professional commitments it may be time to consider other programs. A program that provides individuals with an option of 10, 15 or 20 years may motivate captains to remain in service longer.

V. What is the impact of increased personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) on the willingness to accept the conditions of an Army career? How important is/are:

the number of unaccompanied tours in a career?

the number of weeks per year away from home?

time-on-station before PCS?

  1. Quality vs quantity time away.

  • much of the time training away from home station is wasted…simulation away from home station

  • continuances are continuing to add up…many are felt to be unnecessary

Narrative explanation of above bullets:

The third general area discussed is that the Army is no longer fun. The group agreed that this phenomenon is due to a number of contributing factors. These are: resource constraints, zero defect mentality, the "up-and-out" syndrome, and the opportunity to replace live training with simulations

VI. Do officers truly have a "say" in the reassignment process?

  • most officers felt they do get a say in their assignment

  • a few felt they were told one thing and another was done

VII. What reactions do you have to the following phrases? What do they mean to you?

1. Power Point Army.

--we are leading by email

--too much time spent getting things pretty….not conducting real training…pretty vs content

2. Zero defects army.

--officers don’t feel as if they can make mistakes

--new OER cause commanders to put staff officers in the two block to make room for one blocks for commands….many staff officers feel this puts them at a disadvantage from that point on

--up and out policy threatens the officer’s chances of retirement…the cooperate world has a vested policy

--officers are forced out on H/W standards but are in outstanding physical condition

3. Lack of focus on where the army is headed.

--force twenty-one, light, mobile strike force

--seem we design the force before we decide what the mission should be…should be other way around

4. Mentoring.

--it simply is not happening

--counseling rarely happens…even with the new support form

5. Top-down loyalty

--just plain don’t see it that way…perception is top is watch their own butt

Narrative explanation of above bullets:

The last area we discussed related to the current force design initiatives. Though we do not know to what extent it may influence captains, the sudden and frequent changes to the army’s force design exact a heavy toll on everyone. Bottom line, we will be inheriting these new designs in years to come.

Junior officers are often taken advantage of in performance reports. Most, serving within staff positions, are often subordinated on performance reports in an effort to inflate command performance reports. This dynamic immediately places the individual at a disadvantage for subsequent board reviews. Ironically, the junior officers serving in these staff positions are commonly selected from among their peers because they are superior performers.



ACE Facilitation Guide in Support of the CSA’s CGSOC Sensing Session

GENERAL: The staff group was very animated on these issues. All had an opinion. Despite efforts to direct the conversation to perceived positivism, virtually every officer was negative. Of the 13 USA officers in the group, only ONE was even considering remaining in service after 20 years. All were initially reluctant to participate in this discussion, as many believed they would be held accountable via an audit trail for what they said. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about the environment of today’s Army!

The facilitation guide was very useful and the following comments were proffered:

In the last ten years, voluntary CPT attrition has risen from 6.7% to 10.6%. Why are Captains getting out? The issues of a strong economy, numerous job opportunities, deployment frequency, and "doing more with less" are well understood. Are their other reasons?

What is the importance of the following issues in terms of making career decisions?

The following items were chosen unanimously as "VERY IMPORTANT:"

A majority felt the following items were "VERY IMPORTANT;" the rest said "SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT."

A majority felt the following items were "SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT."

What is the impact of increased personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) on the willingness to accept the conditions of an Army career? How important is/are:

Do officers truly have a "say" in the reassignment process?

What reactions do you have to the following phrases? What do they mean to you?

(as a general note, virtually all of these evoked negative reactions)

What is your perception of the Army’s senior leadership?

The current crop of majors find it somewhat incredible that the senior leadership mentions ethics to them. From their perspective, these are the same folks that won’t support healthcare, the same folks that allowed housing allowances to erode, the same guys that get personally involved and tinker with the assignment process (how can a GO make an informed decision on who should have BQ job? He doesn’t know all the candidates, so it becomes out-and-out favoritism), the same guys who base decisions on political correctness rather that right and wrong. Many believe their needs to be a clean sweep of senior leadership before the rest of the Army follows. Many pointed out that they were not talking about moral ethics (i.e. "sleeping around") but PROFESSIONAL ethics – selfless service, honesty to subordinates, courage of their convictions, etc.. Other comments were:



As middle managers, feel betrayed by senior leaders. Specifics include:




When asked how many will do 20 years and out all but 2 officers raised their hand. Changing the question to If you were picked up for Battalion Command and assured you would make 06, all but 3 officers still raised their hands


Chief of Staff of the Army's Leadership Survey

Command and General Staff College Survey of 760
mid-career Students (Majors with a Few LTCs)