Service Selection - Marine Pilot Draft?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by northstarfx, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. northstarfx

    northstarfx New Member

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    So, service selection for 1/C Mids occurs in 2 weeks. I just heard that there is a major shortage of Marine Pilots and NFO's for this year's class and that they may end up "drafting" between 40-60 Mids to fill those positions. Does anyone know if they will draft a Mid for marine flight that has never displayed interest in either marines or flying?

    Seems like the shortage is a real thing: http://taskandpurpose.com/pilot-retention-death-spiral-heres-marine-corps-can-fix/
     
  2. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    I'm obviously no longer a mid, but here's my two cents...

    The Marine Corps, historically, does not and will not "draft" mids, period. The Marine Corps would rather have spots go unfilled than force someone to go USMC. I would hope that has not changed.

    With the caveat that I went through service selection ~6 years ago now, the USMC Air selection happened internal to mids who had already been given the okay for Marine Corps (and basically consisted of...are you medically cleared for air and have you passed the ASTB). If a mid was interested in Marines for pilot only and did not want to go ground if not selected for air, they could communicate that to their Marine mentor to be presented to the board, but that was usually a death sentence to their USMC aspirations.
    My year there were an excess of air spots. As a result, mids who were selected for USMC-Ground option were given the choice to swap to air if they had taken and passed the ASTB. My flight school roommate did this and now is happily flying Ospreys. Any unfilled air spots filtered out to NROTC and the other officer recruiting options.

    There's no benefit to forcing someone to go USMC, and in particular to go Air. If you force someone to be an air contract, they can just drop it at TBS (which is insanely dumb, but that's another story). Also, the Marine Corps has a comically low need for NFOs.

    The issue with the pilot shortage is not at the initial stages. To clarify, each type of unit in the Marine Corps has what is called a Training and Readiness Manual ("T&R"). This will lay out in black and white how many people a squadron needs to have, and how many of each qualification level. The shortage in the USMC is not with boot pilots, of whom there always seems to be too many, but of senior Captains with higher level instructor and tactical qualifications. Those people take time to make (2-3+ years once in the squadron), so the issue is not recruiting (though ironically it can be hard to get people interested in the USMC to go pilot), it's retention.
     
  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Been a long time since I did service selection but 40-60 seems high. Hurricane, thoughts on that one? If I remember numbers the last few years there are usually around that many total for usmc flight spots. My class year we did not fill the flight spot numbers but it was by less than a handful. USNA during service selection time reached out to a handful of those who put Navy pilot down as their #1 and were a point short in 1-2 areas on the ASTB. They asked if they were given the chance would they like to go USMC? Several said yes and they gave waivers to a few. Not sure on today’s scoring standards, but ‘back then’ USMC pilot ASTB score requirements were much higher than USN ones. I also know a few years after we had gone thru everything, the USMC was short on pilots and they offered a year group or two a chance to switch from USN pilot to USMC pilot while in flight school. There were a few who did. Agree with Hurricane the USMC isn’t traditinally into selecting those who don’t want to be there. They have traditionally looked for other ways to grab those who have interest to include offering the ASTB again at TBS and flight school spots to 2ndLts there and JOs to switch after a few years in the fleet.
     
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  4. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Doesn't make any sense to me .. I don't think USMC wants to "draft" anyone, and its nuts to put someone through flight training that doesn't want to be there. That's how you get people killed.
     
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  5. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    My year (which, again, was a big year for air contracts) we had ~95 USMC air spots. About 75-80 went filled right away, and a few more got filled by guys with ground contracts.

    There is a higher min ASTB for Marine Air, but it's only a couple points, and the Marine Corps doesn't really care how well you did on the ASTB so long as you pass.
     
  6. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Agree Old Navy. The year after I graduated they did ‘draft’ about 5-10 folks to USMC. They all went Ground though. My class had about 30 who wanted to go USMC but did not get it. The number for today’s classes is about ~8% higher in size for the USMC than when I was there. Goes to show you how it can change class to class. Be interesting in a few weeks after service selection how this all falls out.

    Thanks for the update Hurricane. That is a lot more. We were about half that for aviation billets.
     
  7. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    How times have changed...I had a Squad Leader plebe year, sorriest excuse for a leader that you can imagine, selected Marine Air because his class rank was too low to get Navy Air. I can only imagine that he got chewed up and spit out at TBS. (D0n't take it as sour grapes because he was rough on Plebe me--I really don't remember him interacting with us Plebes, other than ordering us not to have any specky ice cream so he could have more ).

    Now my curiosity is triggered -will have to dig out the Lucky Bag to remember his name, google him and find out what happened to him.
     
  8. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 5-Year Member

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    1) Yes, there is a monumental shortage of Marine Aviators. They had 108 spots for Marine Pilot, and I think 5 for Marine NFO. They only had 56 people put USMC pilot first and 0 people put USMC NFO first.

    2) I had the Senior Marine Representative look me in the face and tell me they wouldn't draft Marines unless they put a gun to his head, so no, there will not be a Marine draft. What they have been doing is asking people to change that had done Leatherneck and put Navy Air first, and trying to move some ground selects into air that had high enough ASTB scores. As someone that did pretty well at Leatherneck, and had shown interest in the Marines for most of his time at the Academy, but put Navy NFO first, I had to go talk to like two or three different Marines who all asked me to switch. There are many things I love about the Marine Corps but there's not really a future for NFOs there, and I'd like to fly so I don't think I'm going to switch. If anybody was drafted, which is probably not going to happen, it would be me. What's probably going to happen is that they will increase the number of Air Contracts at OCC/ROTC for the next year or so.

    3) This is a funny year for service selection, it was the first time in years that they had more people go up for subs than they had spots.
     
  9. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    Dude that's bananas. It's crazy how quickly things change. To hear that more people wanted subs than there are spots is like hearing that cats and dogs are now living together in harmony.
    5 also seems high for USMC NFO considering that (as you alluded to) it's a dying community, but what do I know.
     
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  10. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    Good insight BDHuff09. Out of curiosity, what platforms do USMC NFO's get now ? Only one I can think of is EA-18. Good Mission for an NFO, but suspect that USMC doesn't have many -maybe 1 or 2 squadrons ? I thought the VAQ mission had gone purple, with alot of USN and USAF crossdecking , correct ?

    For the current Midshipmen (including BDHUff) what is the current USMC leadership in the Yard like ? To some degree, all of the warfare communities use their representatives in the Yard to "recruit" Midshipmen to their community. We had a post-command submariner assigned as Battalion Officer. He was very outgoing, good leader (later made Admiral) who made not bones about the fact that he was assigned to USNA to show that all nukes weren't geeks.
     
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  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    It is crazy how things can shift so quickly year to year. Good to hear about subs. Buff any thoughts on the shift?
     
  12. BDHuff09

    BDHuff09 5-Year Member

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    Trust me, it was suprising for me too. We sat as 2/C and watched over 50 people get SARBed into subs/nuke swo in the class of 2017, so needless to say we were all pretty worried heading into our service assignment.

    Well, Marine NFOs are on two platforms right now. They'll fly the EA-6B until 2019, at which point the Marine EW mission is supposed to be taken over by a combo of unmanned systems and the F-35B. They are also on the F-18D, and the projected sundown for them is 2028 I think. Hurricane12 may have more insight, but I've not heard very good things about the state of the USMC Hornet community and its readiness (or lack thereof). As for VAQ, the Navy is the only service that has small wing EW right now with the EA-18. The AF does provide CSO's to serve as backseaters in addition to Navy NFO's, but they are attached to Navy squadrons.

    Well, the last Dant was a Marine, and he had a so-so reception among mids. I'm not sure that has much to do with the current issues though. They've got a Batt-O who is pretty well liked and I'd say a lot of their current senior enlisted leaders are pretty good. There are good Marine Company Officers, and then there are some that are not as well liked.

    It's hard to say. I think it's worth noting that Marine Ground had no issues meeting their quota, just the Air side.

    The reason I switched was probably different than a lot of my peers. I didn't care about the rigidity or the fact that TBS was going to suck, but more that I didn't think I would be as motivated to get up everyday and go to work doing the types of jobs I'd be doing as a ground Marine vs. in the Squadron. An issue with my eyes meant that NFO was going to be my only option to be in the air, and it didn't seem wise to go the Marine route given the future there. If they had a new platform with NFO's, my decision probably would have been different.

    As for my peers who were considering USMC Aviation, I think a lot of them decided they didn't want to go to TBS after doing Leatherneck. I think some of the very public incidents within Marine Air over the past few years had drawn some people away as well. It also doesn't help that Marines you know from the class of 2015 are still in primary flight school, where as some of their Navy peers are already winged and headed to the fleet.

    The Submarine community, to their credit, did make a concerted push to draw midshipmen to their community. The money is good and I think they did a good job of selling how competitive the community would make you for a job on the outside.
     
  13. northstarfx

    northstarfx New Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies. This is definitely comforting news for my Mid. Yes, indeed, a very unique year for USNA Service Selection. I just received the stats showing # of Billets Requested from CNO vs. # of Mids Requesting each billet. Several of the more interesting billets are:

    Billet:....CNO Request .....Mid 1st Preference
    SUB................136..........................145
    EDO..................15...........................30
    SEALS..............34...........................56
    USMC............269..........................229
     
  14. pilot2b

    pilot2b 5-Year Member

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    I graduated from USNA this year (2017), went USMC Air and am nearing the end of TBS. I can't speak for c/o 2018 like BDHuff09 can, but I he brings up several good points. Here's what I view as the issues.

    On PROTRAMID, several Navy pilots attempted to persuade mids who were debating going Navy aviation versus Marine Air by telling them that Marine Corps platforms were "held together with duct tape." Those types of conversations, along with a number of recent mishaps, certainly play a role.

    The family issue is a big one as well. A lot of mids may be gung ho for a couple years, but if they are in a serious relationship (or just hope to be in one in the near future) and are thinking of marriage, the Marine Corps can seem less attractive. While the Navy can be hard on relationships as well, it's no secret to mids that Marine Corps officers on the yard are often there earlier and later than their Navy counterparts, and carry that kind of commitment to their job elsewhere.

    An ongoing issue is that those who want to fly tend to go Navy and those who want to be Marines go ground, often hoping for a combat arms slot. The length of TBS, which delays the start of flight school certainly factors into this to some degree. I think this could be at least partially addressed by Marine Corps pilots stationed at USNA talking more about their experience in combat, supporting guys on the ground. An officer currently at USNA played a role in me choosing air vs ground by talking to me one-on-one about his experiences in Afghanistan doing Close Air Support (CAS) missions. Many mids attempt to get Marine Corps due to its reputation as a lean, mean, fighting organization. If USMC pilots at USNA are proactive in talking to mids about how their roles directly affect say, an infantry company in combat, more of those interested in USMC Ground may wind up opting for Air.

    In my opinion, the USMC officers at USNA have been top-notch and are often highly respected among mids, even if the occasional one isn't well liked. When several classmates and I were discussing the shortage of Marine pilot hopefuls, one issue a classmate of mine brought up was the issue of "cycles" of sorts happening at USNA. From our observation, it seems as though the classes that wind of leading/training plebe classes often have a big effect on them. Thus, a class that has a high number of motivated members become Marine may wind up influencing a class several years behind them to do the same, and vice versa. In my company at least, the class that training 2018 was not a USMC-motivated class, and the fruits of that are seen in 2018 in my old company now. That's purely anecdotal, but it may have a shred of truth in it.
     
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  15. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    EA-6B Selection for NFOs and pilots has been stopped for a little while now. NFOs can only go F/A-18D, for which there's I think one squadron per coast plus Japan. Their readiness (along with all Hornet readiness) is not good.
    I can see how the recent news about aircraft readiness (particularly jets) would make guys steer away from Marine Corps, even though the larger communities (plopters, skids, 53s will get better) are decently healthy and the Navy's jet readiness is not really anything to write home about either.

    Getting good USMC pilots to go to USNA for a B-Billet just ain't going to happen, unfortunately. It's a death sentence to your career and there's about a million more interesting things guys want to do. The only pilot from my squadron who went to USNA for a ground job was apparently universally reviled as incompetent and obnoxious.

    Recruiting for Marine Air is interesting and difficult because everyone labors under the delusion that they will become an infantry officer. Most will not. Most will not even be in competition for those spots after about month one of TBS. But, that's the allure of the service.
    There's an uncessary stigma against aviators (we get to hang out on our own in the wing, we do less of the BS garrison Marine Corps stuff, we go to flight school instead of to a platoon, etc.) perpetuated by people who don't know what they're talking about, many of whom are in the Marine Corps.
     
  16. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Super Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Hurricane you bring up great points. My best friend is a Navy Hornet guy... their readiness is horrible right now. And he is far enough along in his career to have been around awhile to know it isn’t just rumors, but reality. He is a pretty optimistic guy so for him to say something negative I take notice. Any Hornet pilot, Navy or Marines, who goes to USNA is killing their career. He and I have actually had that conversation. I mean sure an 0-4 or 0-5 could as a twilight tour but they would be a Batt O or some other position.

    Ahhh yes... we are all going Infantry! It’s sort of like the start of Plebe Summer when there are 400 future SEALs. I remember being at Leatherneck and we had Asssitant Platoon Commander who just graduated TBS who stated that if we didn’t want to all be infantry officers then we shouldn’t be there. I remember all the females looking at each other and then of course I was the joker who raised my hand that said ‘what if we can’t be one?’ He didn’t appreciate my pointing out the flaws to his statement. Understand things are changed since then, I am old, that wasn’t even a thought. Our Platoon Commander was a history prof at USNA for the summer and he was an infantry officer. At the end of the summer he told us to ignore that and do what we wanted to do and look at the pros and cons of each MOS and our own strengths and weaknesses.
     
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  17. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    I agree with the rationale put forth by pilot2b, Hurricane and Hoops and would add that the extended time commitment also weighs into the decision for some folks.
     
  18. Nemo567

    Nemo567 Member

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    The thing is Navy pilot has a longer commitment than Marine pilot. A lot of people this year (myself included) did leatherneck, then put down Navy pilot.
     
  19. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    Sorry I wasn't clear: I was addressing why there could be a shortage of interest in Marine air vs Marine "other."
     
  20. pilot2b

    pilot2b 5-Year Member

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    I don't think you're correct on that. As I understand it, both Navy and Marine Corps pilots have the same length of service commitment, which only starts counting down after winging. The only difference is that USMC pilots have to go to TBS first, which allows most (though not all) of the Navy pilots to start flight school ahead of their Marine counterparts.

    Also, very few Marines get to do both leatherneck and powered flight, meaning that many of the Navy guys validate IFS while very few of the Marines do.