Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wants to overhaul military education and training to “regain” the art of warfighting following complaints by thousands of servicemembers that their time is being wasted by hours of mandatory training, according to a new memo obtained by Fox News.
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The training that is the subject of complaints covers everything from alcohol use to active shooters to sexual harassment to stress management.
Addressing the service secretaries and chiefs of the Armed Forces, Mattis has ordered the formation of a new working group to “determine changes to military personnel policies” to “equip more ready and lethal forces.” The working group will include the second in command of each branch of the U.S. military and report to the deputy secretary of defense and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The secretary wants each service to examine its military education to “regain a concentration on the art and science of warfighting” and look into the hours of “mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks” such as flying jets, jumping out of planes, and hundreds of other U.S. military missions essential to defending the United States and its allies.
One official with knowledge of the discussions surrounding the memo told Fox News, “servicemembers spending too much time on senseless training that is really a waste of time.” One U.S. military officer said there is “too much sexual harassment training” and not enough time spent at places like the shooting range, for example.
Last year, Fox News traveled to Ellsworth Air Force Base where numerous B-1B bomber pilots said that in addition to planning and flying training missions that can take over 12 hours at a time, they spend “countless hours” on mandatory training they view as unnecessary.
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Currently, only about half the Air Force’s fleet of long-range B-1B bombers are fully mission capable.
Mattis also wants the working group to look into “hiring practices for the [DoD] civilian workforce,” which some senior military officers have complained has become too large in recent years despite Obama-era cuts involving tens of thousands of uniformed servicemembers.
“There are more civilians working for the Pentagon than there are uniformed troops in the Navy and Air Force combined,” Katherine McIntire Peters, deputy editor of Government Executive Media Group, wrote in a recent op-ed. Peters put the Defense Department’s civilian work force at 770,000.
The defense chief also is instructing the new task force to examine “counterintelligence competencies” for the military’s law enforcement agencies.
Recommendations are due by Dec. 1, 2017, according to the memo.