Army: Furloughs Make Civilian Force a Serious Flight Risk

Army: Furloughs Make Civilian Force a Serious Flight Risk

Sequester-forced furloughs and more recent workdays lost when the government shut down for two weeks killed productivity at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Robert Cone said Wednesday at a luncheon during the Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

“What I frankly find a little tough for people you think are absolutely essential is to be told those are not essential, to send them home … This is no way to treat a full partner in the business of the Army,” Cone said.

Still worse, said Cone, is that the lost workdays came against a backdrop of hiring freezes that have left jobs going unfilled and organizational downsizing of up to 45 percent in places.


“At some point it has to be translated into a human cost of the people who work for us,” he said.

Just as the Army is concerned it could lose valuable active-duty troops because of the cutbacks that are coming, Cone said he would make the same argument about the civilian workforce.

“We as leaders have a responsibility to come up with a vision for the future of the civilian workforce,” he said. “We have to have a commitment to this notion of [civilian] leader development and professional education.”

Cone said his vision should consider taking education and development programs geared only to military personnel and opening them to civilians.

Leveraging the military’s leader development system to include civilians offers a number of opportunities, he said. There is no reason why more civilians should not take military-oriented courses, he said.

Civilians in upper management already attend university programs alongside military personnel, though and all elective courses such as military history may not be open to them. Cone said he would see this changed, and also make it possible to open education and leadership programs to lower-level civilian workers.

“Once you’ve paid for … that university management structure, it makes more and more sense to bring our great civilians in and put them on that equal footing” with the uniformed military, he said.

Programs intended to keep and develop the Army’s best civilians are particularly important given that the hiring freezes – as people have retired or left jobs because they moved away – have begun making the organization look “like a block of Swiss cheese.”

An irony of the downsizing, however, could be that making up the larger workforce with one that is smaller may turn out to be more expensive, according to Cone.

“If you want a more adaptive workforce, it may cost you in terms of the levels of education [needed],” he said. For example, he said he is being told not to use knowledge-based contracting – that is, contracting with companies or individuals with skills or knowledge that does not exist among its military or civilian employees.

“Frankly, I use knowledge based contracts because I have gaps and seams in my civilian workforce,… if they truly want to do away with knowledge based contracting, I’ve got to tell you something, there’s going to be some good jobs inside TRADOC that are going to be opening up.”

This is an opportunity for us to reshape the organization, he said.

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What a novel concept: treat 3rd leg of airman stool as an equal! The General knows a 3-legged stool w/a short leg won’t stand & can’t support even itself! We should lose the mindset of civs/contractors. How is it that we don’t have certain skills in our workforce? But we can HIRE a contractor who’s either retired Mil or a former Civ? Contractor didn’t teach them everything they know!?!

In many staffs civilians took forced days off and no military people missed them. Work got done more efficiently and soldiers got served. No whining from our military folks. 73% of Americans said the shut down had no effect on them.

What a bunch of BS. I worked in the Army for 24 years and federal government for 17 years. If it wasn’t for the civilian workforce in South Korea it would shut down. First of all a normal US enlisted Soldier only works 24 hours a work doing his job and that is a perfect week with no distractions. With Sgt’s Time CQ, CQ Runner, Staff Duty, fall clean up spring clean up you name it the days of Soldiers doing their job has become less important unless they are deployed n IRAQ or Afghanistan. Do the math and then re post the facts. I wrote a 19 page document for the 4 star general to testify to Congress last year. How is it f former NCO can be so experienced and provde insight on how to change the Army because we are going in the wrong direction.

I was a first sergeant for an 1,100 person unit and the base commander used my unit for his personal detail requirements. I had an E3 personnel clerk in the orderly room and his duty day all day, every day was to do detail rosters. We would do anything including grass cutting, moving furniture and relocation of civilian offices, setting up social events, parades, retirement ceremonies, painting. You name it we did it. When I complained and raised hell with the Snr. Enlisted Advisor my only success was a reduction of the detail from let’s say 40 to 35 folks. I NEVER had a commander who would stand up and say “our mission is more important than your detail.” Never! I know of no civilian company that would take a highly skilled electronic technician or jet engine mechanic or medical technician, etc. and instead of doing their job, have them cut grass. This is why our military force is so inefficient. Yes thank God for the civilians that supported us.

Indeed, a waste of time. This could all be done with contractors (or prison labor?). Don’t know of any hospital that details surgeons to clean the floors. Comparative advantage for the win!

Interesting point. Sounds like a soldier’s life is full of make-work to make the days go by in peacetime…civilians, ideally with subcontractors (though I like the idea of inexpensive prison labor stateside) are presumably cheaper.

(1) Lesson learned: FIRE half of all the generals, admirals and senior civilian executives and political appointees. Not needed. Just make work to justify their existence.
(2) FREEZE senior officer and civlian pay for the next five years and INCREASE junior enlisted so they don’t have to go on foods stamps. If it drives out senior officers, good. Called self-selection against the downsizing yet to come. Got to start somewhere.
(3) Figure out how to make deployments and rotations work better. Less overseas bases; not more (as seems to be the plan). Longer PCS. Stop screaming about the dwell time between combat deployments (the “Greatest Generation” is looking down on our current “middle class” military lifestyle and shaking their heads in shame).

Why does everyone think civilian employees get paid so much money that we can take a pay freeze for 7 years but the military side keeps getting raises every year? I make significantly less than a private sector worker in my field, I choose to stay because I know my work is important to the country despite being “non-essential” during the shutdown. Before I transferred to a different agency I worked as a Dept of Army employee for the National Guard. They would put Techs into an ADOS/ADSW status doing their civilian job just so they could make more money than they would normally as a dual status tech. They raked in the BAH and BAS meanwhile those of us with a different MOS than our civilian job got hit with the pay freezes while these other people raked in the money.

The system is ripe with corruption.

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