Andrew Bacevich on Military Retirement

Andrew Bacevich comes out against the Defense Business Board reform of military retirement in Sunday 21 August 2011 Washington-Post. Dr. Bacevich (COL, USA-RET) make a persuasive  argument.  I can’t argue with his analysis.

The great strength of his argument is his tying military service to a profession and not a vocation; a choice to serve vice a career.

There is going to be pressure to “change” the military retirement system.  The pressure is primarily going to come from the left who wishes to protect the social safety net and the “tea party types” who want a radically reduction in the deficit.

A week ago I challenged our readers to think about this issue.  A visceral reaction to the proposals will not suffice and rather than help will hurt any counter to the Defense Budget Board report.  Any argument made which repeats “we have always done it this way, why change,” will find little resonance among our politicians.

More to follow.


  1. DaveO says:


    Thank you for presenting an opinion from Bacevich where I agree with him. The weakness to his argument is the how the current system treats reservists as less valuable than the regulars. By emphasizing our profession as a profession, and not a trade, and yet separating those who get retirement benefits (i.e. money) at 38, while those who contribute to generating wealth (and tax dollars) and law & order and other societal roles have to wait until they are 60 – all the while maintaining deployability and expected to be at the same level of competency as the regular.

    The DBB will win this because of our own willing acceptance of fracture.

  2. mdl says:

    Aside from the military and perhaps law enforcement and emergency services, pick a profession that requires written testing, a strict physical and screening followed by recruit training with an attrition rate of 25%, that also requires additional schooling similar to the infantry then sends one to a foreign land to fight, oh and you can't quit during your time in unless it is at the end of your contract or you want to face disciplinary action.

    Somehow I don't see some 19 year old minimum wager at Wegeman's willing to defend the produce section with his life while using a radio to call in close air-support while trying to keep his team in one piece.

    Now do this for 20+ years then retire close to 40, and due to operational tempo and deployments, you might have been able to squeeze in some college, but rarely have a degree. By this point, your back is bad, knee's shot and hearing gone from humping a heavy load over rough terrain while firing a slew of weapons and having been shot at, perhaps wounded and then had to kill others, oh, while watching your own men and perhaps women, be killed or wounded.

    Yes, these are good benefits, but they are earned. If it was so darn easy, why doesn't the military, especially the combat arms, over-flow with people? Why don't more who enlist, stay to the point of retirement and the rich payout?

    • AFLogic says:

      Military retirement benefits are the reward for writing a check for your life and giving it to the government. Make it scalable by job, how many times deployed, heck even the number of times you were injured in the line of duty. But I do not agree with cutting them, /especially/ for those already in.

  3. AFLogic says:

    Bit of good news regarding any retirement changes for those already enlisted. People already in will not be affected by any changes made.


    "People who have come into the service, who have put their lives on the line, who have been deployed to the war zones, who fought for this country, who have been promised certain benefits for that — I'm not going to break faith with what's been promised to them," Panetta said.

    People in the service today will come under the current retirement system, which gives retirees 50 percent of their base pay after 20 years of service.

    • C'mon AFLogic, are you in this for yourself? It's this "I got mine, you go get yours" attitude that prevents us from being the most powerful voting block in the Country. Whether you are already retired or currently serving, we need to look beyond our time and insure the next generation of serviceman/women are rewarded with the best benefits that our Country can give them for volunteering, serving, and either dying or becoming disabled in the service of our Nation. Nothing is given, everything is earned.