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Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-04-2006, 05:08 PM   #1
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Flexible retirement options for military

Looks like the military wants to add a 10 year retirement option:* same COLA'd* pension we all know and love (2.5% of pay times years of service) but starting at age 60 instead of immediately.* Plus you'd get up to 10% TSP matching while you're working.*

Wonder if it will fly?* Know a lot of guys who would jump at chance.

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?s...&article=35448
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-04-2006, 08:44 PM   #2
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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Originally Posted by FlowGirl
Looks like the military wants to add a 10 year retirement option:* same COLA'd* pension we all know and love (2.5% of pay times years of service) but starting at age 60 instead of immediately.* Plus you'd get up to 10% TSP matching while you're working.*

Wonder if it will fly?* Know a lot of guys who would jump at chance.

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?s...&article=35448
One problem with these proposals is that MOAA (and others) track them excessively, complete with breathless updates & appeals for more letters/money. Yet most of the proposals never see the light of day.

Anyway, overall MOAA does a good job. When Norb Ryan, a former Chief of Naval Personnel, tells Congress that something is bad for personnel, he has the credibility to pull that off.

Having seen a few pendulum swings, this one looks a lot like REDUX. The problem with deferring pension income until age 60 is the military's high-risk profession where even the survivors will have reduced longevity. Consider the current controversy over the man or woman who dies before eligible for retirement-- medical retirement (just before death) is strongly preferred by their families while DoD actuaries feel that SGLI & DIC is intended to produce the equivalent of that 20-year retirement income stream (hint-- it won't). And retirees at 20-30 years, before age 60, will be highly reluctant to ER (with its attendant high savings burn rate) in anticipation of a pension at age 60. So groups like MOAA will attack this proposal on the grounds that no one will retire before age 60, effectively gutting 10-20 years of the current retirement system.

I suspect that this new age 60 idea will draw a lot of comparisons to police officers & firefighters who get to work for 20-30 years and then draw their pensions immediately. Same degree of risk without having to deploy to the Western Pacific.

It's hard to imagine that DoD could finesse both an age-60 retirement and a tripling of TRICARE Retired registration fees during the same administration that lets the CINC fly Navy jets without a current qualification.

It must be just a coincidence that Donald Rumsfeld is a retired Navy Reserve O-6 who didn't get HIS pension until age 60 and who will work until he drops in harness.

Considering Iraq and the current operations tempo, I think a TSP match will have to happen in the next 5-10 years just to keep up retention and to conform to society's norms... the recruiters will be telling their services how that's working for them.
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 12:21 AM   #3
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

I think a ten year option would be good. Just about any job you get has a vesting period short of full retirement. The military has either you retire or you don't.

I don't think they govenment will go for it, simply because many people over 10 years stay for the 20 just to receive the retirement. If they optioned for a 10 year retirement, I think many would jump ship to a better paying private sector job. While I was in most of the people in the jobs that would pay very well in the private sector were over their 10 year mark and were only staying for the retirement. Most already had jobs lined up 2-3 years out.
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 06:55 AM   #4
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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Originally Posted by lets-retire

I don't think they govenment will go for it, simply because many people over 10 years stay for the 20 just to receive the retirement. If they optioned for a 10 year retirement, I think many would jump ship to a better paying private sector job. While I was in most of the people in the jobs that would pay very well in the private sector were over their 10 year mark and were only staying for the retirement. Most already had jobs lined up 2-3 years out.
Concur. It seems like the 10-12 year is critical for folks making the decision to stay or punch. I know several folks that had crappy assignments at this point and pulled the handles.

At the 10 yrear point I had a great assignment and didn't realize what was happening til I was at 13. Then it was a no brainer for me to stay. But to potentially walk out at 10 vested at age 28-32 I would think (all things being equal) private sector would be very attractive.

JDW

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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 07:21 AM   #5
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

I have been in, worked with, or been around the military every work day for the last 35 years. Because of the end of conscription, Congress has had to pay them much more money than they did during the days of the draft but the concept of the 20 year retirement is alive and well. The 20 year retirement at age 40 was a perk for surviving the poverty of active duty service.
Today, the military pays their people much more than the civilians who build and repair their equipment. In fact, the non combat arms of the army, air force, and navy allow them the time, opportunity and the funding to complete a bachelors and a masters degree over the course of a 20 year career. Soon the navy and the others will follow will require a bachelors degree to advance above E7.
I think its really time to change the concept of the 20 year retirement and start it at age 60 or so. As much as we need them, the concept of the 20 year retirement was predicated on living
in virtual poverty and then earning the brass ring. not being paid $40K or $50K ( and yes folks for those of you who don't know E5s and E6s do make that when you crank in health care and housing allowances, separation incentives, tax free allowances, etc.)
It may be time to separate the combat arms of the services from the non combat arms. A grunt who goes out on partol daily is in greater danger than a sailor who sits off the coast on a carrier and chips paint or an airman who processes supply parts in the AC.

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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 11:22 AM   #6
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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Originally Posted by Gpax7
Today, the military pays their people much more than the civilians who build and repair their equipment. In fact, the non combat arms of the army, air force, and navy allow them the time, opportunity and the funding to complete a bachelors and a masters degree over the course of a 20 year career. Soon the navy and the others will follow will require a bachelors degree to advance above E7.
Interesting. You would think that (1) there would be better retention instead of people jumping from the military into that contractor's job, as happened every year over the eight years I spent at training commands, and (2) more than a minority of enlisted & officers getting their degrees. Even at my last training command, where arguably we had the college-degree program down cold, I was only seeing a degree completion rate of 10%/year in the enlisted and 20% among the officers. (Most were there for 2-3 year tours.) Many conversations revolved around "#@$% tuition assistance program is out of money again", "the college doesn't offer that course in the right sequence" or "my $#%^ credits lapsed after that last sea duty" or "Nords, please go on this trip for me so that I don't miss my mid-term exams." That last request came from one of my commanding officers.

The situation has dramatically improved over the last generation. However I think much of the improvement comes from competition in the civilian sector, improved access to education (especially the Internet), and humongous recruiting/retention efforts. DoD isn't driving the initiatives-- it's being beaten into them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpax7
I think its really time to change the concept of the 20 year retirement and start it at age 60 or so. As much as we need them, the concept of the 20 year retirement was predicated on living in virtual poverty and then earning the brass ring. not being paid $40K or $50K ( and yes folks for those of you who don't know E5s and E6s do make that when you crank in health care and housing allowances, separation incentives, tax free allowances, etc.)
Last time we cut retirement benefits, the JCS went before Congress in 1999 and begged them to restore the retirement system as a way of improving recruiting/retention.

The military times newspapers (Army Times, Navy Times, etc) publish annual "How much do you make?" articles comparing pay & allowances to civilian-sector wages. The DoD runs a website calculator comparing your military compensation to civilian salaries. Again based on retention rates, I think many feel that the military's virtual-poverty concept is alive & well, just as it is for some jobs in the civilian world. And after earning all those special pays, most military would gladly give back the family separation allowance, combat pay, & hazardous duty pay if they didn't have to repeat the experience. No one should join the military for the money.

I'm trying to remember the last time I've seen a separation incentive. The most noteworthy recent incentive has been the Navy's "Blue to Green" program to pay sailors a bonus for transferring directly into an equivalent Army MOS. I bet that's real popular.

In the mid-'90s I was at a retention meeting for junior officers. The admiral went into fatherly-advice mode and said "Now, you young guys can't count on leaving the service after five years and being able to snag one of those $100K/year jobs that you've been reading about. That's a bunch of Internet hype." To which one JO raised his hand and responded "Sir, my wife's salary just went from $110K to $125K, not including her bonus. I've submitted my resignation letter and I have two job offers over $100K/year. I'm willing to reconsider, but what's the submarine force going to offer me for a bonus next year? And how many deployments will that require?" The flag officer should have quit while he was behind-- it never occurred to him that JOs would have a working spouse, let alone spouses who made more money, or JOs half his age making as much as he was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gpax7
It may be time to separate the combat arms of the services from the non combat arms. A grunt who goes out on partol daily is in greater danger than a sailor who sits off the coast on a carrier and chips paint or an airman who processes supply parts in the AC.
When's the last time you were in a combat zone, Gpax? (15 years for me!) Can you show me the line around the Green Zone that separates "safe" from "hostile fire"? Which part of that carrier's crew would you classify as "combat" vs "non-combat"? What would be the survival rate of the grunts who were only considered eligible for "combat" jobs? Or the civilians working in the World Trade Center?

I'll point out that much of the Navy's shore-duty jobs have been outsourced to civilian contractors. Outsourcing another shore duty job means that an afloat sailor can't rotate to a shore job after five years at sea. (If I wanted to spend my entire Navy career on sea duty, I would have joined the Merchant Marine and gotten paid much better for it.)
And I don't know if this is still the case, but in the '90s many aircraft carriers deployed with civilian contract employees in the galley, the logistics department, and for some advanced/test systems. However when the carrier actually entered the Arabian Gulf, a painful minority of those employees had a way of disappearing-- for very good reasons and some not-so-good reasons that were quite frustrating to both the military and the contract company.

You have to maintain both combat & non-combat jobs and rotate veterans between them. During WWII the military's aviators complained that they felt expected to stay in combat until they were captured or killed. Widely-publicized programs put quotas on the number of bomber flights or the length of carrier combat tours. Aviators rotated to non-combat jobs in training or logistics where they worked on solving the problems they'd had on the front lines. (Especially submarine torpedoes.) Each wave of returning warriors trained the next generation, and the personnel & systems dramatically improved throughout the course of the war.

Compare that to the German submarine force or the Japanese aviators. Both were expected to do their jobs until they were killed. By 1943 the average age of a German submarine's commanding officer was... 23. With six years of service, darn near all of it in combat. The Japanese aviators were also killed instead of training their reliefs, and the training/logistics staffs never had the feedback or the motivated officers to fix their problems. That led directly to battles such as the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot".

I think the military is barely treading water on retention/recruiting with today's programs. Most young'uns join for the excitement & adventure, not for the healthcare benefits or the retirement plan, but every second- or third-enlisted military member with a family lists family/benefits as their top reason for staying in or getting out. If the retirement programs are hollowed out by these proposals, the force will be too.
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 01:35 PM   #7
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

I agree Nords.* There is no "front line" anymore, and being combat service support* vs. combat arms (I am branched Artillery) won't let you sleep safe at night.*

My National Guard unit has been over 60% deployed and all of them talk about nightly mortor attacks, even in "safe zones."* Don't forget about the constant threat of IEDs everywhere you drive.

I don't think the 10 year retirement will fly.* In the National Guard, we all have to wait until age 60 to collect our retirement.* There are talks to drop it to 55, or ladder it based on deployments or time in service.*

All proposals have been shot down and not supported by the state Adjutant Generals because they belive it will hurt their end strength numbers.*

I fully support it, since I am only 39 with 21 years in...* I just don't see it happening.
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 02:47 PM   #8
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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It may be time to separate the combat arms of the services from the non combat arms. A grunt who goes out on partol daily is in greater danger than a sailor who sits off the coast on a carrier and chips paint or an airman who processes supply parts in the AC.
I've had the pleasure of being a Supply clerk, an Air Defense Artillery officer and a Finance officer. Guess which one put me in the most danger? Finance. Belieive it or not I've had fellow finance officers that would go on pay missions to set up base camps and come back with stories of being shot at or losing soldiers to IEDs. Combat arms units get more funding at the unit level than any non combat arms unit period. When I was in ADA we had all the toys and funding we wanted. In finance we had to beg and borrow for everthing. When it's time to roll out guess who gets the up armored Humvees and guess who gets the ones with vinyl doors? Who do you think sets up a base camp and provides funding to the locals for using their land, water, or whatever resource the Army needs to support its force? With a total active duty Army force of about 500k everyone bears the brunt of war not just the combat arms guys/gals.

Quote:
I'll point out that much of the Navy's shore-duty jobs have been outsourced to civilian contractors. Outsourcing another shore duty job means that an afloat sailor can't rotate to a shore job after five years at sea. (If I wanted to spend my entire Navy career on sea duty, I would have joined the Merchant Marine and gotten paid much better for it.)
Same in the Army. I think my last duty station had the same number of civilian contractors working there as military. The problem will surface when there are no positions to decompress after 2 one year tours to Iraq and Afganistan, because while you were deployed those positions were civilianized. The OPTEMPO will remain high and so will the divorce rate at the pace the Army is going. If they offered a 10 year retirement the current problem they have with retention will be nothing compared with those that would run for the exits.

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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 04:37 PM   #9
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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I think the military is barely treading water on retention/recruiting with today's programs.*
I think you're definitely right about that.* The numbers put out by DOD are not telling the whole story.* Out here they call it "Musical Marine."* Right before a big deployment a unit will get a huge dump of guys from elsewhere - many of them just returned from Iraq with a different unit.* After the deployment ends the unit is drained and the personnel sent to other units about to do their own deployment.* * The spouse attended a briefing by the head of enlisted manpower a few months ago and he said the barely veiled desperation was sobering "If you have any Marine who wants to re-enlist, send him to me today." They are doubling the number of recruiters and counting on that, plus huge re-enlistment bonuses to solve the problem.* But you're right... if the pay is so great, why aren't people staying.

Anyway, it was this fact that had me confused by the article: they implied that there is a glut of useless personnel at the 12 year mark just hanging on until retirement, and that the government is reluctant to screw these guys by getting rid of them before they make it to 20.* Maybe this is true for some occupational specialities, but not in most... and a 10 year retirement option will not discriminate between them. It has the potential to make a bad retention situation much worse.*
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military
Old 03-05-2006, 07:12 PM   #10
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Re: Flexible retirement options for military

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Anyway, it was this fact that had me confused by the article: they implied that there is a glut of useless personnel at the 12 year mark just hanging on until retirement, and that the government is reluctant to screw these guys by getting rid of them before they make it to 20.
I heard that all the time at that stage of my life. I'd just finished my worst duty station ever (COMSUBPAC staff), had learned that I probably wouldn't be making an XO tour, and had been forced into San Diego exhile when Pearl Harbor ran out of billets.

The assignment officer's attitude was "Yo, dude, sorry about XO, you owe me two years for taking this job, later, whatever, gotta go help some real submariners make a career. Call me in 18 months." That attitude persisted through four more detailers over the next eight years.

The headhunter's attitude was "Well, we'd love to have you, but you need to make the leap now. If you hang on any longer, people will wonder why you're leaving the military when you could have held on until retirement. They think you've been thrown out of the service or that you aren't able to follow through on a goal." He's a college classmate and a good buddy but he called it as the employers see it.

I stayed in to anchor my spouse to her duty station (SD or Pearl instead of Yokosuka or Diego Garcia). In retrospect the smarter approach would have been to immediately punch for the Reserves, mobilize to active duty in the location of my choice, or take a contractor job. But we got through the next eight years, and it's just one of the many roads to ER.
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