When you’re a kid, complaining of boredom usually gets you more chores to do around the house. But when you’re serving in an Air Force that is facing deep budget-driven cuts to its flying hours, boredom complaints may be a sign of serious morale and looming retention problems.
As we reported, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh last week raised the specter of bored pilots and flight crews while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee:
The flying reductions are starting to affect the Air Force’s morale in worrying ways, Welsh said. He said he recently spoke to a group of young pilots, who were eligible for an aviation career incentive bonus if they agreed to stay with the Air Force, but had not accepted it.
“That doesn’t mean they’re planning to leave the Air Force, but it certainly means they’re keeping their options open, at a minimum,” Welsh said.
The Air Force is offering up to $225,000 bonuses to pilots who commit to 10 more years in the Air Force. Another group of young airmen told Welsh that they were bored because their squadrons weren’t flying.
“They said at the end of their enlistment, they planned to find work that they thought was a little more exciting,” Welsh said. “I haven’t heard anybody in our military say they were bored in quite some time. So that got my attention.”
Are you feeling the same way? Are you bored by the cutbacks in flying, or other mission reductions? Is it causing you to think about leaving the Air Force? Air Force Times would like to hear from you. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. If you’d like to stay anonymous, that’s fine.
And given that research suggests boredom really can kill you, this may not be just a matter of mission readiness — it could be a matter of life and death.