Retention Survey

Officer Retention Survey:

This morning, I and a bunch of younger officers had to take a survey sponsored by the Army Research Institute, aimed at job satisfaction for junior officers (junior in rank; some of us are not so junior in age). The results, I'm told, will be out in a month or two. The purpose is to help figure out why so many pre-majors leave the Army, and find ways to convince them not to.

The multiple-choice questions were about what you'd expect. There were many variants on (1) are you afraid to leave the Army because of money? (2) do you learn more from your leaders and peers as opposed to Army-provided training materials? (3) how impressed were you with your most recent supervisor? (4) how impressed are you with your current training? (5) how much do you think the Army really really cares about you and your job? and (6) do you think of yourself as a natural take-charge leader type? There were two questions I didn't like, about whether you'd advise someone else, male or female, to join the Army (insufficient data there). There were also sections on whether you think you owed the Army various things (mostly extra efforts and commitment; I answered mostly "agree" or "strongly agree") and whether the Army owed you various things (mostly personal attention, flexible work hours, recognition, etc.; I answered "disagree" or "strongly disagree" on just about everything except leadership). There were some good questions about your source of commission, whether you were from a military family, and so forth; but in the main the focus was on "What kind of things is the Army giving you?" as opposed to, "What else is the source of your commitment?"

There was a section at the end to write what you pleased about the subject matter of the survey. I put something like this:
I joined the Army to support the war effort. I don't believe the Army should attempt to attract too many selfish officers. A leader who is obsessed with his own pay, education, and benefits is NO INSPIRATION. Such people are poisonous, and I am glad not to have worked for many of them.
Frankly, I can't comprehend anyone who would sign up in wartime for benefits alone, or even mainly for that reason; but I don't think I want to be led by people like that in any event. Some years ago, I read a Wall Street Journal article on the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, which suggested that the SDF had a lot of trouble recruiting when their ads emphasized pay and benefits; and did somewhat better when they emphasized the challenges and hardships.


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