How We’re Planning the Biggest Personnel Overhaul in 45 Years

How We’re Planning the Biggest Personnel Overhaul in 45 Years – Defense One

I’m rubbing my eyes as I’m reading this to make sure it’s real. We’re actually taking on the challenge of reforming the ancient DoD personnel system? After so many years of “ehh, the personnel system is good enough for government work…”.

To say I’m happy to read this is an understatement. Hopefully one of the worst parts of serving the country will be changing soon.

Some of the big takeaways:

We are now asking ourselves: Are we choosing from too narrow a pool our next Navy Adm. James Stavridis, Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, or Army Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster? Are we wrongly assuming that the department’s numbers of perfectly qualified candidates for boot camp and our service academies equates to a system in which service members’ talents are optimized? Do we really know how to measure quality; can we adequately track talent flows; and do we know when (or how fast) that talent is leaving our ranks? More importantly, will our antiquated, stove-piped personnel systems be agile enough to attract that same quality 10 or 20 years from now, and inspire it to stay?


Our current generation, many of whom already are proven in service, both abroad and at home, is telling us, if only we have ears to listen: options, flexibility, transparency, and choice in careers of service, civilian and uniformed alike, are more compelling than a mere paycheck. Measuring, grooming, and rewarding their differentiated talents is more important to national defense than following the strict paths leading inexorably to the faint possibility of general or flag rank. The power of innate personal qualities applied to a grander purpose is infinitely more inspiring than a system that treats people like interchangeable parts.

This has the potential to finally modernize DoD career paths and personnel practices. Bravo. Let’s work to turn this potential into a a reality.