Why You Should Care About the Upcoming Defense Department Technician Survey
The National Guard and Reserve full-time workforce has been in the news lately because of the furloughs that they are facing due to sequestration.
The original furlough has been cut from 22 to 14 days. That is okay news for the Guard, though it's far from optimal. Another announcement was made this week that could greatly affect future Guard readiness: The Defense Department Department is undertaking a study (required by law) to determine the effectiveness of the Guard and Reserve dual-status technician program. In a letter sent out earlier this week, the DoD told mil-techs they'd have the chance to make their voices heard about their jobs:
The purpose of this survey is to collect information from current dual status military technicians about the military technician program. Section 519 of Public Law 112-81 requires the Secretary of Defense to "conduct an independent study of the feasibility and advisability of terminating the military technician as a distinct personnel management category of the Department of Defense."
("Public Law 112-81" refers to the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2012)
The survey questions have not been released publicly, but NGAUS encourages all technicians to answer them honestly. The DoD needs to know more about the workload and responsibilities of mil-techs. Military technicians perform daily the vital training, maintenance and administrative functions that maintain the high level of readiness required for critical domestic and overseas missions.
A little background about why NGAUS cares so much about technicians. In the late 1980s, the Army Guard's full-time force of dual-status technicians had reached a high point. Over the next 10 years, the number of full-time techs steadily decreased and bottomed out around 1999. By then, the Guard technicians -- then servicing a strategic reserve -- were so overworked they could barely fulfill their daily responsibilities. In a NATIONAL GUARD magazine story from 1999, one mil-tech from Wisconsin said he was only able to complete 5 to 10 percent of his daily workload.
That year, NGAUS convinced Congress that it needed to increase the number of full-time technicians to help maintain readiness. Since then the Guard has had a "ramp up" that has steadily increased mil-tech numbers. Even with the steady increases, the Guard falls short by about 25 percent of what it needs to maintain readiness in today's operational reserve. To put it in perspective, the full time force is about the same size as it was back in 1989, during an era when the Guard was not deploying units at such a high tempo.
That's why NGAUS doesn't want to lose any ground on full-time technician authorizations. NGAUS believes that we still have some distance to travel before the Guard has even reached an optimum level of full-timers. When the survey makes it to your inbox, make sure you take the time to fill it out.
Andrew Waldman is a staff writer and blog editor for NGAUS.