Time—away from loved ones, consumed by admin, out of the cockpit—and a system that does not recognize and reward the highest quality people are driving out some of the Navy’s best officers.
Too many of the Navy’s best junior leaders are leaving, creating an erosion of talent at the O-4 and O-5 levels. Despite initiatives such as the Fleet Scholar Education Program and the Career Intermission Program and attempts to reduce administrative distractions and reinstitute the aviation command retention bonus, concerns are increasing. These efforts to improve the situation are Band-Aids that generally motivate only those who would have stayed anyway. The real issues affecting retention fall into four overall categories: undue administrative burden, proper compensation, an antiquated promotion system, and low readiness. All these problems can be attributed to a growing disregard for any leader’s most important asset: time.