High Morale, High Readiness

Increases in both retention bonuses and flying time are needed to reduce the Air Force’s pilot shortage, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein reiterated Thursday. During a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing, Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asserted retention bonuses are not proving effective and young pilots care more about flying than money. “Sir, I approach this as a balanced challenge and opportunity—quality of service and quality of life,” Goldfein said in response. “Removing financial burdens through aviation bonuses is certainly following the quality of life category.” Later in the hearing, he noted service planners have found an increased bonus is a necessary quality of life change to increase retention and reduce the shortage of almost 700 pilots. But quality of service—allowing airmen to be as good as they can be at their jobs—is just as important, he said. “Pilots who don’t fly, maintainers who don’t maintain, controllers who don’t control will walk, and there’s not enough money in the treasury to keep them in if we don’t give them the resources they need to be the best they can be,” he said. “In my mind, readiness and morale are inextricably linked. Where we have high readiness, we tend to have high morale because we give them the opportunities to compete.” Along with requesting Congress to increase the retention bonus, the service is standing up new F-16 training units to increase pilot production by October 2017. (See also: Pilot Shortage Back With a Vengeance from the August 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine)