While Defense Department officials have discussed slowing the rate of military moves in recent months, the majority of Home HQ readers don’t think those talks will lead to any real change in move frequency.
Only 31 percent of the respondents to a Jan. 31 poll said they expected DoD would make changes that would limit future permanent change-of-station moves. Another 31 percent said they expected no changes, and 38 percent said changes may take place, but any new regulations won’t lead to a noticeable drop in move frequency.
Army Secretary Mark Esper, one of the DoD officials who has discussed decreasing the PCS rate, recently outlined some of the reasons why that opinion split isn’t unusual throughout his service.
"Changing duty stations too often hurts families," Esper told a Pentagon roundtable of veteran and military service organizations Feb. 6, per an Army.mil report. He also outlined how those moves can hurt the Army: Frequent staff changes can ruin unit cohesion, for instance, and the moves themselves cost the service money.
But without those moves, Esper said, some soldiers would suffer career stagnation. While turnover may not always help unit performance in the near term, it’s necessary to ensure qualified troops move up the ladder and into assignments with greater responsibility.
Per the report, Esper suggested a potential compromise: Soldiers could be offered a choice when it comes to PCS-ing, so they could better shape their career path around personal and family needs. Soldiers with an ill family member living near their installation or a child about to graduate high school, for instance, could choose to delay or pass on an upcoming change of station.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.