Saturday, July 09, 2011

You're in the Army now... only maybe not...

Prior to WWII, the peacetime US Army had about 175,000 men in uniform (by comparison, Wally World can field slightly over eight-and-a-half times that many troops...) so even if you wanted to quit your dead-end job selling pencils from a tin cup on a street corner and launch an exciting new career polishing shoes and cleaning rifles, they might not have had an immediate opening for you.

Fast forward to 2011 and the announcement of the latest unemployment numbers and... oh, hey! We're bringing the boys (and girls) back home!
The Army and Marine Corps are getting smaller, and now there's a nearly year-long waiting list just to get into boot camp, no matter which branch you want to join.
Now, I'm all in favor of a troop draw-down, but all those people getting out are going to be entering the highly-competitive selling-pencils-from-a-tin-cup market, and at the same time, there will be that many fewer positions for folks looking for three hots and a cot, a highly-marketable skill (like helicopter door gunner), and the GI Bill.


Murphy's Law said...

Yeah, but at least the Obama Administration is fighting hard to make sure that 20 million illegal aliens can stay here and compete in the job market. When US troops came back from Korea, Eisenhower freed up jobs by deporting countless illegals under "Operation Wetback". But Obama wants to give the illegals taxpayer-subsidized college educations, supposedly because just busing them to the border is "too expensive".

Tremaine said...

To make it worse, they get preference for any government job due to them already working for the gov.

Gives us regular guys a leg down on the competition.

Ed Rasimus said...

Tremaine, you may want to do some research on that. There are instances of veteran's preference, such as with the Postal Service, but there are many more government jobs that are NOT open to Vet's until after a substantial waiting period. And many others for which the military service doesn't provide the necessary preparation.

What really counts is education and job skills. Many of the folks needing jobs today have not prepared themselves to compete.

The real travesty in this is that we need a strong defense and we get something in return for those tax dollars. We don't need more welfare dependency and "entitlement" which offers nothing back to build America.

Ken said...

Iffen one is inclined to take the pessimistic view (I don't, but ain't ruling it entirely out neither), door gunner might be a highly marketable skill.

Tam said...

"Strong Defense" != "Blank Checkbook To The Pentagon And Defense Contractors And Enough Troops To Staff All Of Our Cold War Commitments Plus The Balkans Plus Prosecute 2.75 Foreign Wars"

I can be as hawkish as the next kid, Ed, but somethin's gotta give.

Anonymous said...

"We have to focus on creating more and better jobs for the people of America!" saith the O...

Yet the one "jobs program" that gov actually has control of and that generates the real and tangible return that Ed speaks of?

Yeah, let's dismantle that one and take all these obscene corporate profits to "create" some private sector votes -uh, I mean jobs- that he can claim credit (heh) for.

And all without a glimmer of recognition of the irony, and the tragedy, of it all.

How's this for an election platform...two years of hots, cots, training, and dedication for every 18-30 y.o. who wants and can do the job. And all those illegals? This is how you buy your ticket to stay. Strengthen, not emasculate our defense (and who but a fool things we're done playing in sandboxes?), give a sense of maturity and purpose to a whole generation of jobless and hopeless youth so they're not jacking you and me to get by, and maybe, just maybe, we can save the world again.


Anonymous said...

Did I mention pay for it all with the ONE-HALF of stolen booty -er, I mean tax revenue- that we are busily pissing away on unconstructive, even destructive, vote buying -dang it I did it again- I mean social programs?

Yeah, that'll happen. AT

Anonymous said...

It's going to get worse. The Navy is looking at a reduction in force and the Air Force did so about 2007ish. Personnel is the easiest thing to cut as it produces immediate savings.

BTW, door gunner is an additional duty and pretty easy to learn. Negative lead is the tricky part.

Al T.

Anonymous said...

The Carter Cutbacks did this in reverse. He RIFed huge numbers THEN ruined the economy.

Hobie said...

Don't laugh, those door gunners can go straight into the TSA...

Mad Saint Jack said...

The Navy is looking to fire 3000 people.

It really is that bad.

Brad K. said...


Um, with veteran preferences in hiring, I expect that unemployment won't be the issue -- that many veterans will get hired, at minimum wage, and replace older, minority, and less skilled folk underemployed to make ends meet.

I expect the unemployment they increase will be more those needing jobs badly, and increasing the ranks of the underemployed.

Underemployment is a scourge on the workforce. While they look, and often produce like, traditional, "here for the duration" employees, they are conscious of having less responsibility, less career interest, less opportunity, and less motivation to continue their employment if something better comes up. That doesn't lead to stability in the work force.

Yes, veterans will face difficulty in finding work; I don't think it will be a larger difficulty than the rest of us. And remember -- the media doesn't sell soap, telling you about the veterans that get a decent job, live moderately well, and make a reasonable transition to civilian life.

I expect many employers are less than delighted to be facing the prospect that some of those veterans expect to get a previous job, or better, back, according to Federal law. Not all, but some will fall into that niche.

Isn't it funny, how simple it seemed to draw down the military so far, that then next thing we knew, we were in WWII. Interesting, that. Of course, if our current administration were smart we won't get to that point where the absence of an American worldwide presence invites another global conflict . . . Um, I guess I can hope, or something.

Ed Rasimus said...

Tam, do you exaggerate just a tad for impact? ""Strong Defense" != "Blank Checkbook To The Pentagon And Defense Contractors And Enough Troops To Staff All Of Our Cold War Commitments Plus The Balkans Plus Prosecute 2.75 Foreign Wars"

At the very height of the cold war we had a "two-war strategy". For the last 20 years or so it has been a "one and a half war" plan. Today the military is smaller than at any time since the draw-down after WW II and before Korea.

Unless we are going to abandon our global leadership role, we can't shrink much more. We've reduced from a near-500 ship navy to a third of that. We've reduced an 18 division army to eight. We've slashed a 26 wing tactical air force to 10. The total defense budget is 2/3 of a trillion dollars and dwarfed by expenditures on social programs.

We certainly can make cuts, but when arguing "guns or butter" you'd better remember that if you can't protect your butter then you've wasted your money on the bread.

And, I'll skip comment on the statement of another poster regarding former military sucking up all those minimum wage jobs from senior and more experienced workers. That's cliche and wrong on too many counts.

Bubblehead Les. said...

TSA doesn't hire Vets. No Veteran Preference. Lots of my friends are Vets, some who are Military Police, and NONE have been hired. However, if you are a 61 year old Grandmother, like my friends Mom, you can be qualified to take out a young Al-Queda Terrorist who is storming an Airport with a Homicide Vest by using your Ancient Chinese Secret Granny Fu skills.

But hey, this isn't the first time they decided to cut the lower levels, while saving the Deputy Assistant Assistant Deputy General in Charge of Public Consumption jobs. Happened after 'Nam (to my Cousin), after the First Gulf War (Bush the Elder), then Billary REALLY chopped Bush the Elder Cuts AGAIN, and now the Anointed One (who has single handily won the War in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and killed Osama Bin Laden, just ask him) decrees that World Peace Has Arrived, and we will soon be at FDR's Military Staffing Levels, which will put us somewhere around the level of Botswana.

Meanwhile, Tsar Putin announced a few months back his Trillion Dollar Military Modernization Program and Troop expansion...

Tam said...


"Tam, do you exaggerate just a tad for impact?"

Uh, yes. ;)

We need to cut butter more than guns, but we need to cut guns, too. We can't keep kiting checks.

We also can't let politics dictate where we make the cuts in guns, but pragmatism isn't a strong point with politicians.

Anonymous said...

As an Army recruiter, I can tell you that our requirements for a job are getting more strict. We're looking for HS grads, mostly. Those with GEDs (the ones who actually could use the Army) have to score a 50 or higher on the ASVAB, pass the TAPAS, and some other test I can't remember the name of right now. No Felonies, no possession charges, no single parents, and males with a BF% over 26 or females with a BF% over 32.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find qualified applicants who meet all these standards. Only 1 in 4 HS seniors can make it, and once folks are out of HS, that percentage drops. If you're prior service, forget it, all we have for you is the Reserves or, if you're male and a hard-charger, Special Forces.

Yet, even with all this, and with a station mission of 3 active and 1 Reserve, we still get threatened with Relief-for-cause NCOERs if we don't over produce.

NotClauswitz said...

The illegals are already getting free guns from the ATF, now we're gonna let them start their own Army! Three burritos and a joint! Si se puede fumar ganja!

Drang said...

@ Tremaine & Brad K.: What is this "Veteran's Preference in hiring" of which you speak? Is that related to the "We prefer not to hire any baby killers, you knuckle-dragging no-neck Neanderthal" I heard so many times?

Anonymous said...


Think illegals don't have their own army now? Let the ones that want to earn their freedom, citizenship, and opportunity do so, and they'll be the first ones to defend against the ones that don't.

Also, blaming stupid corrupt gov for arming drug gangs is as specious as blaming fun shows...each might contribute a trickle, but the heavy stuff is all coming from neighboring govs, and there's plenty of it.

No, where there's demand there will be supply, so get to the root of why these murderous scum need the firepower, which is to protect their pipeline and proceeds.

Legalize that shit and kill the gangs and their biz overnight. And use the tax thereby generated to pay those that really yearn to breathe free to protect the land that gives them that opportunity.

It's simple, but it's fantasy.


Anonymous said...

In my little corner of the world vets are given preference in hiring by the railroads. They also get to count their years of service toward their RR retirement. Retire from army with 20 years at age of 38, work 22 years till age 60 on RR. Army pension+ RR pension at full rate though under 30 years service+ half RR pension for spouse+ various vet benefits that I am not familiar with. Oh, and they pay into RR retirement fund, not social security.

Tam said...

God knows I gave preferential consideration to vets (especially recently-discharged ones) in hiring.

Not out of patriotism so much as a managerial preference for people who understand the concept of "Be At Work On Time".

Brad K. said...


Employers are required to report on employees and new hires, how many minorities, how many veterans, how many women, etc.

Affirmative action has required many bulk employers to completely automate their hiring system, to avoid charges of bias.

When I worked for the US 2010 Census, they plainly and openly counted a test score as a maximum of 100 points, and prior military service as an additional 5 to 10 points.

Many employers, to stay under the affirmative action radar or because they find the problems adjusting to civilian life are more manageable than others, also consider a veteran over non-veteran, given two reasonable comparable candidates.

When you go slinging the epithets about your average American serving in the uniformed armed forces, please keep in mind that American forces are ultimately controlled by the civilian government. Many are there to get away from a bad start in life -- military service has long been a successful way for people to skip to a higher social class, to learn more about the wider world. Many learn discipline, integrity, and living a responsible life. Not all, certainly, but then, as Boris De Bastid points out, military service can and has served to rehabilitate a lot of marginal youth.

Blessed be.

NotClauswitz said...

Teh Gangs are 1.) home-away-from-home for the kidz of homeys who are in lockup and 2.) daycare for the house-cleaners, dishwashers, janitors and "au-pair's" kids - if there weren't drugs they'd be smuggling software and code-keys and rootkits and selling bootleg super-viagra.

Anonymous said...

"...if there weren't drugs..."

Then there'd be no money. Always follow the money.

And then there'd be no military-grade weaponry for the cartels, no street weaponry for the street gangs, and a lot more reason for those street orphans to pursue the opportunity for a good life. For those that don't take that opportunity I'm all for flushing them out, shipping them out and keeping them out by whatever means necessary. But for those that do, and this applies to illegal and legal youth alike, military training and service might offer the perfect home-away-from-home alternative; a chance to learn responsibility, self-sufficiency, honor, and purpose. Oh, and those hots and cots that Tam mentioned in an environment far preferable for them and us than the one down at county lockup.

As for those alternate gigs, hey that's capitalism! The market will ultimately shake out the scammers, but at least it is unlikely that rival software gangs will be having shootouts down at the mall.


Drang said...

Brad K: I'll go tell the assholes who weren't hiring me because of my 20+ years of service that you said they should be nice. RIF.

Brad K. said...


Um, if you don't respect the company to make the best decision, for them, then maybe I can see their point.

I mean, if they found you were as promising as someone else with similar background and both well suited to the open position, and neither of you fell under affirmative action guidelines, only then might they consider your service to be a deciding factor.

I hope you are aware that there are many, many jobs in this country that will not hire anyone that has been to college, let alone graduated. (This might apply if you were officer, rather than enlisted.) Many blue collar employers won't bother trying to manage people that are vastly under-employed -- they are often bitter, and prone to leave the job on a whim.

For some jobs the first thing the employer looks for is showing up on time, every day. If your last employer won't be reporting that, you are at a severe disadvantage; for many jobs the employer won't care whether you would be an asset to their business -- they want you there, and to do as you are told, without questions or attempts to improve efficiency, or solve problems, etc. And they don't want to hear about any problems, not yours, not your previous work experiences. If you are willing to mention personal or professional problems, they will assume you will be bad-mouthing them, too.

Right now it is an employer's market. They need to get the best fit for experience and skills for each position, the most productive candidate, and for the lowest possible wage. Government changes in regulations, expectations of additional taxes and other increases in the cost of doing business, and forecasts of further economic slowing mean that they need to keep all their costs down, and focus on getting the most work out of the fewest people. This means that anyone changing careers, or anyone else wanting to work at something they haven't done before, or having had a decent salary, is at a severe disadvantage. Write President Obama. I think he is so busy paying off labor unions and big bankers he doesn't care about wrecking the companies and people that might be hiring you and me.

So check the attitude before checking back with the good folks with the ability to put you to work, if they figure that would be a good thing for them.

And if, all other things being equal, they have a box to check marked "military service", then check "yes", just in case it helps you and them.

Blessed be.

Gewehr98 said...

One thing I found out when a certain medical firm hired this retired USAF puke - they got a nice tax incentive by checking the box on the federal form.

The discipline and punctuality were all gravy after that, I suppose...

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Pretty much every civilian job I applied for after active duty said, "That's nice, but we want someone with real experience."

I'm not sure what they meant, as I had worked on more equipment of more generations than they had in inventory/contract (including some they subcontracted out, which I was qualified, with papers, to work on), and in some cases knew more than the company manager or owner.

I suspect that latter was part of the problem.

That, or they thought the 1980s/1990s military was akin to the Vietnam era military.

They also wanted to pay less than assembly line work at the local factory paid.

They'd end the interview lamenting that they "couldn't find good people to hire."

If you never find a good prospect, it could be your search criteria are lacking.

Then, there were two jobs that discharged me for "absenteeism," which they defined verbally as "going to drill and that flood you got called up for," but lied to the state and claimed I hadn't shown up for work. Of course, they paid for me the drill days, so I couldn't prove any dissemblance.

So I'm puzzled at this alleged preference vets get, because I've never seen it.

Justthisguy said...

Mike, you seem disgruntled. You're not intending to imitate the acts of that other, more famous HVAC technician, Harry Tuttle, are you? "Shit! we're all in it together!" If so, I'll never tell.

I do remind you that you have promised me that I will not have to go through the chipper, and have hinted that I might be acceptable as throttleman on a chipper crew, should you be acclaimed dictator.

IMHO, the vicious Tuckerizing in "Better to Beg Forgiveness" automatically qualifies you for World Dictatorship. All else are just details.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, and further:

Mike, that Captain Chinran character bears a very disturbing resemblance to you. You ain't workin' on my HVAC unless and until I am quite certain that I am on your good side, and that you are on mine. I don' need no phosgene coming outta the ducts.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, according to a comment on a post over at Cap'n Lex's place, The USN has now achieved Parkinsonism. That's C. Northcote Parkinsonism.

We now have 245 ships, and 268 Admirals.

As I wrote there, it's no wonder that the Navy is talking funny these days, and doing random tremors and twitches.

Justthisguy said...

Robert Heinlein has written that during the thirties, you had to have two letters of recommendation just to be allowed to talk to a Navy recruiter. That gave us a good serious professional force when that war started.

The Nip aviators at Pearl Harbor were amazed, that though they had achieved complete surprise, within a very few minutes of their arrival, absolutely every USN gun which would bear was firing at them. Sometimes, it took the use of hammers to knock the locks off of the ready boxes, the officers with the keys being ashore and sleeping off the par-tay.

The Army response at Pearl Harbor, with a few shining exceptions, was tremendous failure.

Navy Training, baby, done on and by smart, motivated people. The professionals gave us time to improvise the mass mobilization.

Bram said...

Sure the military is getting smaller - but not a single one of the 700,000 civilian DOD employees will get RIF'd.

We are cutting the military but not touching a single bloated federal agency.

bondo said...

As a retired 21-yr civilian who was a vet passed over time and again for the non-vets (especially women) I want to say kudos to Bram. He's right about over-staffed civilian voteblocs, duplicating efforts, stacks of bureaucratic signers, and outright theft of taxes by the military complex. Many try to save taxpayers' money and do the right thing. Trouble is they aren't the managers.

RetChiefsWife said...

Our marxist leader is, perhaps, bowing to the wishes of his communist overlords:

Brad K. said...

@ RetChiefsWife,

Oh, no! Are you suggesting that the Chinese ownership of so much of America's debt might have a string or three attached?

Who would have thought. sigh

Cowboy Blob said...

Most of those RIF'd folks will do just fine, providing all the folks filing for VA Education Benefits at the same time don't break the bank.

Anonymous said...

Boris da Bastid said:

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find qualified applicants who meet all these standards. Only 1 in 4 HS seniors can make it, and once folks are out of HS, that percentage drops. If you're prior service, forget it, all we have for you is the Reserves or, if you're male and a hard-charger, Special Forces.


Yes, I would believe it. I was offered an E-5 or Warrant slot at 42 eight years ago and my 55 year old husband to this day might accept a commission for weekend warrior. He was Ranger/SF. Too old for that now but they want what's in his head.

Still at 55 and gimped from 1500 plus jumps and seven and a half years of combat he can still run circles around most younger men.

This country just doesn't have what it takes to produce warriors in the majority of it's young anymore. Maybe for the good of society or maybe our downfall....only history will tell us that.

Anonymous said...

I have never served, but I have worked with many vetrans as most of the industries I worked for liked vetrans. Vetrans by and large were punctual, followed the rules,were used to working in enviroments not neccesarily geared to comfort, and had been exposed to various training techniques. I ended up a trainer for the company. It got to by if my trainee was younger than 30 and had not served, I didn't bother to learn thier name until they had been their for a month. Most younger people (anyone younger than me by 8 years) felt they were entitled to a paycheck, breaks, and the ability to coast without really straining themselves too hard. There were rare and shining examples of real go getters who learned fast and produced good product but they were few and far between. I finally left the company in disgust when my last trainee who my boss told me "this is who we want to hire, more like him are on the way" asked me why I was working so hard when we get paid weither the machines are running or not. That was day one. I could usually train a person to replace me production-wise, maybe not problem fixing-wise, in a month. It took him FOUR! I finally told him he WAS getting certified because I wasn't signing off his work anymore. I told my boss he was ready for certification and that he had my 2 week notice. I found out from friends that the guy left a week after I did because it was "too hard". If you can operate the average microwave, you could operate those tools.
I went looking for another job, and the truely scary thing was most of the interviews I went to, they wanted to know if I could read. They were getting sick of hiring people and finding out that they could not read warning labels, basic instructions, or tool restrictions.
Educaion in this nation is a joke.