Navy Pilot Retention

August 3, 1998

Comment: #160

Discussion Thread:  Pilot retention #s 149, 152, 153, 155, 156, 158 - Need for higher defense budgets  #s 157 and 159.

The article referenced by George Wilson builds on the data contained in #149. Note that Wilson says Defense Secretary Cohen has acknowledged readiness problems in closed-door meetings with congressional leaders. Wilson also cites Floyd Spence as saying that these problems suggests the need for higher defense budgets.

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Experienced Carrier Pilots Shunning Bonuses and Bailing Out of the Navy

by George C. Wilson LEGI-SLATE News Service



 Only 10 percent of the carrier pilots who could have received bonuses of up to $19,000 for staying in the Navy opted to do so as of the middle of this fiscal year -- the lowest “take” rate in the 10-year history of the current bonus program, according to Navy officials.


A number of other congressional leaders are also looking for a way to increase defense spending without kicking up a storm about breaking the balanced-budget agreement of 1997 [P.L. 105-33]. Chairman Floyd Spence, R-S.C., of the House National Security Committee, for example, recently told LEGI-SLATE News Service that pilot shortages and other readiness problems should impel Congress to raise the caps on defense spending this year. One method -- adding more money to a continuing resolution for fiscal 1999 spending -- looked like “the best bet” to him.


During the current fiscal year through March, the Navy through its pilot bonuses had persuaded only 33 percent of the pilots it wanted to commit to at least 14 years in the service. But McCreary said that, as of June 9, it had achieved 59 percent of the acceptance goal.


The reasons pilots gave for resigning were these: family separation, 20 percent; promotion opportunity, 14 percent; quality of leadership, 12 percent; sea duty, 8 percent. The information came from exit surveys conducted with 126 pilots in fiscal 1997, or 30 percent of those who resigned.