In 2015, the Surface Reserve Component (SRC) leadership projects that we will have a looming gap in our O-4 to O-6 billets. A PERS-3 model indicates that the SRC will be operating at 76% capacity at the LCDR level, 74% capacity at the CDR level and 59% at the CAPT level.
There is a 1998 Proceedings article titled “Listen to the JO’s: Why Retention is a Problem” that has received a surge in recirculation recently because it rings sadly true today. Like it or not, the fate of the SRC is tied to the health and well being of the Surface AC. These reasons of frustration and disillusionment highlight why many of our AC counterparts are leaving the military altogether and not giving the RC a shot.
As most of us know, the AC SWO community does not talk about the RC because of a combination of honest ignorance and the fact that no CO Afloat wants to be known for encouraging his JO’s to “leave” the community. There’s no professional incentive for them to pursue it. There are too many other fires to put out. In short, these issues are part of the underlying current as to why the SRC is having issues filling its OPA.
I know what you’re thinking about the numbers discussed above.
“If there’s fewer of us in the pool and the requirement stays the same, then I’m a shoo-in to promote!”
Yes, statistically there is a higher probability of promotion, but just because the numbers work in your favor to promote doesn’t guarantee that it will be automatic. There’s still room for you to fail gloriously if you don’t take it seriously. How would you like to be the JO that couldn’t get promoted with these kind of statistics in your favor? Yeah, me neither.
A little preparation now can position you well to take advantage of the current conditions as well prepare you for a shift in future manning requirements or the civilian job market. Be proactive. Comb through your record and make sure all your FITREPS, pictures, AQD’s, etc. are included and that any irregularities that are accounted for with letters of explanation.
Take your records to a senior officer and ask them to review it. See what could be improved or what needs some damage control. Simple things like a master’s degree gotten while a civilian fall into the category of nice-to-have’s when your record is stacked against the rest. Ultimately, you might be surprised what you find out about records management.
This experience will also be invaluable as you help the new arrivals coming in behind you. In the end, you want to leave yourself the maximum number of opportunities available to take advantage of. Market conditions change in the civilian world and what starts as a bright private sector career can turn around quickly.
Don’t neglect simple disciplines as a reservist that can cause future obstacles.
The question remains for the group: How do we recruit more SWOs from the Active Component to the Surface Reserve Component? What are your thoughts?