- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I liked this comment yesterday from the over-educated, eloquent "Kieselguhr Kid" in response to the article about Navy officers leaving:
OK, so as a junior-to-midgrade officer in the process of dropping out, I’m hating this article. It contains all the wrong ideas and I hear them all the time anyway — it reflects the institutional mindset of the brass.
First thing: worry less about how to get me more money and education and crap. We became junior officers in wartime because we wanted to do meaningful work for our country. I had a job offer worth over six times my starting salary as an officer (indeed, I emailed the offer letter to my AOC consultant because he was taking forever to get me to officer basic). I didn’t sign up for the perks. I signed up for the mission.
I’m quitting because I don’t believe any more that my senior officers give a crap about the mission. Every time — every single time — I have met with one, I hear about what moves and positions are good for my career progression, just like the article here seems to be worried about. Screw that. Tell me what positions I can make a positive difference in. And lead by example, dammit.
How about the military starts acting like servants of the people, and good caretakers of its enlisted? Those two things and you’ll get all the junior officers you need to stay in.