Changes Needed in “Antiquated” Military Personnel System

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has directed the military to overhaul its personnel system, which the Pentagon’s top personnel manager said Tuesday is “antiquated” and “almost Soviet in its intensity.” Change “is long past due” to adjust to the changing needs for critical skills in the military and to the different attitudes of the “millennials” who are becoming the majority of service personnel, said Brad Carson, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, during a forum held Tuesday by Defense One. Military leaders and outside experts agree there is a “desperate” need for greater flexibility in a system that is locked into “mindless adherence” to historic rules, Carson said. Some of the changes being proposed are relaxing the “up-or-out” policy that would prevent an expert in cyber from staying as a major for 20 years and the rapid rotation of officers through different jobs to earn promotion; bringing in civilian specialists at mid-career, rather than starting from the bottom, and promoting on talent, rather than time in grade, he said. Carson said he has promised Carter a report on proposed changes by mid-August.