Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Calm down

You're going to see this over at Eschaton:
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).

...

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses.
I love to tee off on the Bushies as much as the next guy--especially when they're screwing soldiers (which they do...a lot)--but this one isn't really their fault. You see, Atrios's ellipses leave out a very important paragraph, though I doubt he knew it.
The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.
This is um, just wrong. See, the bonuses were never supposed to be offered* to AGRs and technicians. Bonuses are for the "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" soldiers, known in the guard as "M-day" soldiers. AGRs and technicians have full-time jobs in the Guard in which the pay is based on either the active-duty military scale or the GS government pay scale, respectively. Why, honestly, would you need to pay those soldiers a $15,000 bonus when they'll re-enlist because they have to in order to keep their jobs?

I hate when journalists who don't understand the intricacies of the military get people worked up over b.s.

Update: I received an e-mail that asked why active duty soldiers would get bonuses if AGRs and techs don't. It's simple. AGRs and technicians are full-timers for a state. Active duty soldiers are usually forced to transfer to a different unit every few years with very little choice (if any) in where they're going. AGRs and technicians can have relatively normal lives, staying in the same community their entire careers if they so choose. In fact, a large number of AGR positions are in non-deployable sections of state headquarters, too, meaning that, unless specifically tasked out for one reason or another, they can most often avoid deployments.


*The original post said the bonuses were never offered to AGRs and techs. This, obviously, is not the case. What I meant to say is that the regulations never officially allowed them to be offered to those soldiers. In other words, some retention NCO screwed the pooch on this one.

2 Comments:

Blogger DakotaAviator said...

Sir,
You wrote, Update: I received an e-mail that asked why active duty soldiers would get bonuses if AGRs and techs don't. It's simple. AGRs and technicians are full-timers for a state.

Its not simple - not in the least. And what you wrote is not quite true... at the very least you are not being accurate. Double check what the "A" in AGR means. Thats right ACTIVE.

To clarify, AGR soldiers are different than the other two 'types' of soldiers in the Guard/Reserves.
The second catagory of soldier is the regular weekend Reservists who are called "TPU" soldiers. (That acronym is not important to this post.)
Then we also have a third catagory of reservist/guardsman that is called the "MilTech" (technician by your language).
MilTechs are CIVILIAN employees of the government and are also TPU soldiers. They mostly do clerical, admin, maintenance or similar work during the normal work week. During drill weekends or during mobilization they perform whatever their Duty MOS is, however it may or may not be the same as or similar to their MilTech job.

Active duty soldiers are usually forced to transfer to a different unit every few years with very little choice (if any) in where they're going. AGRs and technicians can have relatively normal lives, staying in the same community their entire careers if they so choose.

Again, you have your "facts" in out of whack.

AGR's (at least in the Reserve system) are REQUIRED to move around every few years. Approximately every 3-5 years they are required to change duty stations and these moves are rarely (if ever) to somewhere in the same state. I have NEVER heard of anyone being allowed to move to another Reserve unit in the same town or immediate geographic area. Of note is that while 3 years is the standard for PCS (permanent change of station) moves, in the last 10 years or so its often been around 4-5 due to a shortage of people in the AGR program.

While its true that Miltechs can stay in the same community their entire careers and they are not required to move, MilTechs that want any upward progression and promotions will HAVE to take positions that are often with other units and this often times requires a move.

For example, Mr Joe Snuffy fills a MilTech position with a unit in SmallTown Iowa as a GS5 admin guy. Hes been doing the same job at the same paygrade (with minor time in service increases) for the last 6 years. Joe wants to move up in the world and take more responsibility and get a position with more pay, and who wouldn't? As Joe holds one of only 2 MilTech positions with his unit, he will have to look elsewhere for an opening. So he ends up applying for an internal hire (read transfer) to the closest GS7 position which is in another unit in a town about 150 miles away. He has to either move or commute to hold this job.

With MOST jobs in the Reserves and Guard a person can not keep the same exact job and continue to move up in paygrade. There are exceptions but they are very few and far between - probably less than 5% of the MilTech positions can do this and usually PersCom will only allow you to move up three paygrades maximum in that one position.

Another thing about AGRs is that they have different rules regarding deployments than other Guard/Reservists.

The TPU soldiers (including the MilTechs) can only be deployed for 24 cumulative months under the current presidental call up, however they can also VOLUNTEER for more duty by signing whats called a "COA-T Tab" (pronounced 'Ko-Tee Tab') which waivers the limits on deployed time.

AGR's however have no such 24 month protection - they can be deployed, return to the states then redeployed again with another unit in as little as 8-12 months (or even less in certain cases).

While I can not speak with personal authority on it at this moment, I'm pretty sure the Guard system works very similar to the Reserves. I spent several years in the Guard in the late 90's but things could have changed somewhat since then.

In fact, a large number of AGR positions are in non-deployable sections of state headquarters, too, meaning that, unless specifically tasked out for one reason or another, they can most often avoid deployments.

I think you should give your local STARC or NG Headquarters a call and clarify that.
Based on conversations I've had with NG Lt Colonels and Colonels, I'd be willing to bet that less than 10% of the AGR people are truly nondeployable.

I read a memo earlier this year that was put out by Army Reserve Command (USARC) Headquarters in 2004 (I think) directing the RRCs (Regional Readiness Commands) to STOP "protecting and holding back their Staff and Headquarters soldiers" from deployments.
What had been happening was that higher commands were holding back some of their experienced personel from deployments because they were concerned about a negative impact on their day to day operations.

Gen Helmly has basically stated at various times that "we are a nation at war and if you have not yet deployed - you will" and I believe he will push commands to live up to that.

Right now to keep someone from deploying they will have to get at least a one or two star generals signature on it and send it up to the overall Army Reserve Command - I'd bet that Helmly or his immediate subordinates check that stuff out pretty closely and they probably put a boot in someones asses if they abuse that policy.

FWIW - if the AGR's or MilTechs are eligible to reenlist and others in similar MOS's and positions are getting a bonus then they should be getting the same bonus as well. Whats at stake is simple fairness and equality to the soldiers.

Please be more careful with your posts - your information is in the ballpark but not quite accurate.

You can contact me at dakotaaviatorPORK at gmail dot com but be sure to take out the "pig" before emailing.
If you doubt my info - I'll gladly contact you from my army.mil email address once you email me.

Regards,
~DA

2:16 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

DA-

If AGRs have to move in the Reserves then I apologize for that confusion. They don't in the Guard. I know AGRs who've been in the same slot for a dozen years or more.

And, yes, I know about COTTAD, etc., and I never intended to imply that AGRs and techs are REMFs. Still, the regulations do not allow for bonuses to be given to AGRs and techs and, frankly, I'm sick of people who feel the need to "protect" soldiers from their own lack of knowledge. You know that the regs are all out there and people need to know what's coming to them.

6:43 AM  

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