Valentine’s Day was a time for anything but love for non- deployable troops. New plan for rebuilding readiness could lead to thousands being discharged. But what does it mean, and will it work?
On Feb. 14th the Department of Defense releases preliminary details regarding a new plan to revamp how it deals with troops considered non-deployable. Under this plan, troops who are in a non- deployable status for more than 12 months will face separation, and it could impact as many as 11 %, or 235,000, members. Full details will not be available for several months.
Service members are considered non- deployable for many assorted reasons ranging from service-related injuries, pregnancy, legal issues and lack of required medical screening. Obviously, the final plan will not be able to discharge everyone who is unable to deploy simply, and how necessary waivers are administered will determine whether or not changes have any real impact.
For example, if a service member is listed as non-deployable due to pregnancy, it is unlikely they will face discharge. To do so would effectively prohibit service members from starting families while serving, something that most would agree is unthinkable. Likewise, waivers would need to be made available for a wide range of service-related injuries- both combat and non-combat in nature. Again, to do otherwise would result in both the indiscriminate discharge for those who suffered doing what was asked of them and likely cause members to underreport injuries.
However, it would also make it easier to get rid of those who probably have no reason being in the service, to begin with. A recent report by Military Times reported that 99,000 are listed as non-deployable due to administrative reasons, which include lack of proper medical or dental screening and legal issues. It is not only avoidable but almost always within the control of the service member to correct or avoid altogether. If forced to address these issues leaders will quickly find out how many slipped through the bureaucratic cracks and how many were using loopholes to avoid shipping out.
Probably the biggest hurdle to clearing the decks of undesirables will be the process itself. Anyone who has ever served can imagine a good deal of the backup is the bureaucracy involved. Some members are erroneously listed and must spend months or years appealing that determination. Likewise, others who deserve to be booted using that same bureaucracy and red tape to delay removal. Any successful program needs to address both situations through a common sense based and fast-tracked review process.
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