Military battles officer retention

The U.S. military is producing innovative leaders only to lose them to the private sector.

An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Officers are leaving the service because of a military command structure that rewards those who just conform to the status quo but ignores things like merit or innovation.

The study by The Atlantic found that since the late 1980s, the prospects for the future of the Officer Corps is suffering from abysmal officer retention rates. And that includes a large share of high-performing officers.

Of the 250 West Point graduates surveyed, 93 percent said that half or more of the best officers leave the military early rather than serving a full career. A mere 7 percent agreed that the military personnel system does a good job at retaining the best leaders. The sample included veterans as well as active-duty officers.


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