Culture change needed to address military staffing shortage
By Amy Bounds
13 April 2014
In response to a year-long report by the Pentagon Office of the Secretary of Defense on human capital development for the force, the U.S. military service academies and the U.S. Southern Command (USSOCOM) released a joint statement on April 10 in which they agreed that the human capital crisis facing the U.S. military is the result of a decades-old problem.
As the Pentagon report noted, the U.S. military is in good shape when it comes to its educational system, with strong retention rates for military and civilian personnel, and “high graduation rates for top military talent.” However, it noted:
The shortfall in human capital for the nation’s most critical military forces has become an urgent national problem that cannot be ignored….Our nation’s most important military forces require a significant amount of skilled, qualified, and trained human capital to meet the demands of today’s complex, highly technology-reliant and rapidly changing threats….We have to make every effort to ensure that these leaders remain trained and ready for command…..We must change our current approach to human capital development and establish an annual process to monitor and assess the readiness of our military force.
The academies and USSOCOM also agreed that one of the fundamental challenges facing the U.S. military is that the majority of students entering the service academies either leave before graduation or return to school elsewhere.
The academies took a very public stand on this issue when a total of 1,350 U.S. service academy students participated in a three day walkout on March 1, 2013 over the issue of the “academies’ continued role as college preparatory schools that produce graduates who can be used in every corner of the nation’s workforce.”
The students were protesting the academies’ role as a major source of employment for military recruiting and that these colleges have become “col