DIFFICULT DECISIONS: PRACTICAL POLICY FOR THE AIR FORCE’S PILOT RETENTION CRISIS

The popular blog John Q. Public caricatures every development in the Air Force as causing impending doom for the service’s pilot retention crisis: One article describes “the worst decision in [the Air Force’s] institutional history,” while another narrates “the exact day the tailspin started”, leaving readers unsure whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or histrionic.

The pilot retention crisis has also been the subject of insightful commentary and in-depth studies, citing root causes ranging from competition with civilian airlines to cultural shifts. While all of these explanations are valid, some are probably more pertinent than others. If everything is a huge problem, it’s hard to triage — to separate what’s merely annoying from what’s truly defeating the morale of the aircrew. Now the Air Force needs to determine where to operate to save the patient.