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Pollie watson sent this in.

Discouraging times.

Here’s someone's perspective of today's naval aviation. from the young aviators I know now, the part about naval aviation not being fun anymore is very accurate. check your 6. ramjet.
Not official, but deck plate pulses tell us the following:
- 3 Airwing Commanders plus ~3 CVN COs pulsed ->
- 2 Airwings Commanders advise 6 of their 8 COs retiring post 05 Command,
- 3rd Airwing Commander advises 5 of his 8 COs retiring post O5 Command.
- ~3 CVN COs advise they have less than 40% retention rate amongst junior officers who can get out after their initial obligation is up;
- And 2 out of 3 of their O5s (all communities) retire as soon as they can after/ during their tours onboard ship.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Several fathers with JOs in strike fighter squadrons advising their sons/ daughter turning down orders to TOPGUN as students & instructors;
JOs not interested in (1) being a TOPGUN grad & or (2) being a TOPGUN instructor -
They do not want to take on all the “extra work" & most of them plan to/ would rather get out instead.
Also - the exodus is only beginning to break out. BUPERS & USN leadership expect this to get far worse before it gets better.

Postulated reasons?
(1) Fun is gone, ready rooms/ ship’s company do not ‘hang out’ together anymore; all are severely risk adverse due to the potential to “read about’ any perceived misbehavior.
- Especially true of JOs not wanting to be anywhere near their COs/ XOs, department heads, same reason as above.
- When we do our annual planning for our Tailhook reunions, we plan for the ~O5s & above + retirees + corporate reps staying at the NUGGET resort/ hotel in Reno where we hold the symposium.
- We also plan for the JOs (some O4s, all the O3s & junior) to stay at the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) across town - well away from their leadership & what they call “the white & blue hairs” at the NUGGET.
- These JOs will do drive-bys at the NUGGET for a few specific events (Bug Roach mixer, Thursday night social) but they spend the majority of their time at the GSR with their fellow-JOs.
- This includes even the Flag panel on Saturday afternoon where JOs used to flock in to the auditorium & ask hard (sometimes not so well thought out..) questions.
- Now they (some of them, not all of them) stream the Flag panel from afar on their mobile devices while lounging & relaxing at poolside at the GSR.
(2) Junior officers do not believe their leadership “has their back”.
- They are certain instead any mistakes they make -or are perceived to make- will terminate their career (risk adverse environment again);
- JOs & COs believe all O6s and above are now “company men”, consuming & regurgitating the Naval Aviation Enterprise (nonsense to them) too often instead of leading them by example & taking risks on their behalf to say & get what they believe they need.
- Flying hours are pathetic. Unless you are nearly deploying &/ or deploying often, you can expect less than one hop per week, if that.
- Jets are broken, most awaiting parts (AWP); less than 50% of the flying fleet is FMC, in some places that number is less than 30%.
(3) JOs & COs are bone tired of being used as & having to put up with all "social & cultural experiments & new/ alleged norms” jammed down their throats by the ‘company men’ (civilian & USN);
- Tired of the forced diversity requirements, tired of promotion & selection processes prioritizing special-interest groups over superior performance;
- Tired of being told they must accept things that are - in most cases- directly counter & against their basic moral upbringing (LGBT etc.);
- Tired of working their butts off on noise & nonsense other than their warfare specialty;
- Opinions vary, but we’ve heard today’s Aviation Officer spends ~80%~85% of his/ her time on administrivia & social training not at all related to flying & warfighting (& leadership) requirements.
- We are also told this percentage increases as one gets more senior;
(4) Airlines are hiring anyone (& anything) that can take an aircraft off & land it; minimum flight hours used to be ~1500, now it’s ~500.

Interestingly, the USAF is deemed to be in WORSE shape by a wide margin.
What’s the Navy doing about this?
- More money/ bonuses;
- This will not fix the problem, even Navy leadership knows they cannot buy the dissatisfied officers who are departing;
- More bonuses will only give money to those who already plan to stay in - the [sub-standard] officers who in most cases, have nothing else to do -or- can do nothing else well enough to leave.
- Challenge is - most of the O6s & junior FOs selected are viewed by JOs & departing COs as company men/ women & non-warfighters - who do not & will not “have their backs”;
- And, all of the more senior warfighters are either gone, retiring or being forced out due to political correctness/ “the buck stops here” events/ incidents they inherited & were not really responsible for.

Sadly, even us old guys talking about this over coffee or beers see no light on the horizon.
We do not have believable answers to the JOs & departing COs who ask us why they should stay in .. other than “it'll get better, trust us.”

Do I think it will get better - absolutely yes, especially under this current Administration.
Question is though, will the upward swing in flight hours, decreasing focus on nonsense policies & programs, &, the creation/ injection of some real leaders/ warfighters be in time?

Interesting times.
Cheers and thanks,
Name withheld to protect the innocent


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