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Initiatives launched to retain and increase RCAF personnel experience levels

CBH99

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I should have also clarified -- my experience in Cold Lake was very limited, was quite some time ago, and I was there due to employment in the oil industry.

So I will absolutely be the first one to say, my experience in Cold Lake was very limited. 
 

Quirky

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Tcm621 said:
You are supposed to do your job well, that's the minimum, and when they are promoting 5 of 200 it won't cut it. You can argue the mess stuff isn't important to your job but as long as they give you points for it it will continue to be important for promotion.

Promotion isn’t the end all be all in the CF. Everyone is so keen on getting promoted then they are miserable getting posted to places like cold lake for pennies extra a month. Somehow I managed to make it to the Snr NCO rank without doing any of that half way through my career. From what I’ve seen, those who are keen on every secondary duty are bad techs and their extra mess duties are irrelevant anyway because they don’t make it to the boards. I won’t force anyone to fill positions they don’t want to do, especially if their primary duty is keeping aircraft flyable. We are short on qualified and experienced pers as it is, last thing they need to worry about is planning the next TGIF.
 

kev994

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daftandbarmy said:
Is 'The Mess Stuff' on the PER anywhere? Just wondering....
I’ve seen Wing secondary duties given points on the Wing level ranking board for Capt, I think this would count. No points for whether you can actually pilot an aircraft.
 

SupersonicMax

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My advice to subordinates is to excel at their job before volunteering for “PER boosting” activities.  And even then, those activities should be aimed at improving your work environment and shaping it.  To me, this is worth a lot more than someone doing things solely to boost their PER.

If you can’t do your job effectively, it is a non-starter for me.
 

TCM621

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daftandbarmy said:
Is 'The Mess Stuff' on the PER anywhere? Just wondering....

If not, there are other ways to reward/ recognize those who make other types of contributions, apart from promotion.

It's in the SCRIT under potential. Major mess positions like PMC are considered a major secondary duty and was worth 2 points on Cpl and MCpl pers last year. It can also be worth 1 point under community involvement. More points are made off of section 3 than people think.

The second part of your statement isn't really true though. Sure we also sorts of things that are basically formal attaboys but their only real value is towards promotion and most of them don't even give you that. The Maj telling everybody how well you did on a project at a parade feels good but that and $3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at best.

 

daftandbarmy

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Tcm621 said:
It's in the SCRIT under potential. Major mess positions like PMC are considered a major secondary duty and was worth 2 points on Cpl and MCpl pers last year. It can also be worth 1 point under community involvement. More points are made off of section 3 than people think.

The second part of your statement isn't really true though. Sure we also sorts of things that are basically formal attaboys but their only real value is towards promotion and most of them don't even give you that. The Maj telling everybody how well you did on a project at a parade feels good but that and $3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at best.

And, of course, in the absence of real operations I assume that these 'peacetime points' will become more important.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Tcm621 said:
It's in the SCRIT under potential. Major mess positions like PMC are considered a major secondary duty and was worth 2 points on Cpl and MCpl pers last year. It can also be worth 1 point under community involvement. More points are made off of section 3 than people think.

The second part of your statement isn't really true though. Sure we also sorts of things that are basically formal attaboys but their only real value is towards promotion and most of them don't even give you that. The Maj telling everybody how well you did on a project at a parade feels good but that and $3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at best.

The last SCRIT I was provided (2019), it is Section E - Secondary/Community.  Sqn/unit level = .2, Base level = .4, community involvement (volunteer) = .4 for a total of 1 pt. 

This forms 20% of the Potential score and is worth a max of 1 point.  The Potential section accounts for 38% of total PER score and is marked to a max of 18 pts.

Performance accounts for 60% of the score.  If someone is a shitpump at their job, but the PMC of the Mess and Chairperson of the "Helping Elderly People Cross the Street Committee" in their neighborhood, in the perfect world their PER, scoring and meriting should reflect that...

Fairly different SCRITs, though...
 

CBH99

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In the article, it mentioned that one of the issues was taking 60 qualified pilots and 'recategorizing' them as something else? (I was only able to briefly skim the article before it went blank, and they asked me to subscribe.)

I know I have asked this question before, and the answers seemed to be more generic to grievances across the RCAF.


I am curious however, strictly from a pilot/aircrew generation standpoint, what are some of the biggest challenges we face? Is it...

  • Lack of intererested recruits
  • Requirement that candidates don't have laser eye surgery, or something along those lines?
  • An inconsistent training pipeline?
  • Inconsistent requirements?
  • Are there not enough entry plans for someone who wants to be a pilot? Or perhaps, too many, and it causes confusion?

- Are the problems we face the same as other western air forces, namely that the private section sucks up a lot of potential recruits? Are we somehow driving people away from applying to the RCAF as pilots?

**Geniusly curious


I would think that given the chance to fly military aircraft, doing military missions, would be one of the most sought after jobs in the entire military. As a kid, I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. As I grew up, joined the Reserves when I was 16yo, and continued in life - I realized I didn't have the grades, nor the degree, nor the eyesight, to ever pursue it seriously. (I actually had my student pilot permit before I had my drivers license 😅 )
 

dapaterson

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Expanded demand (added CC17 and CH147 without divestment) coupled with a training system barely able to sustain, but no capacity to grow. That training bottleneck results in years of service being eaten up while individual are still not qualified. Ideally, you want to maximize years of trained service - if it takes 7 years to get to an employable pilot, that's 28% of the career of a 25-year ( ie pensionable) pilot gone before any return on investment.

The RCAF owns the pilot training system. There's no lack of individuals wanting to become pilots, no lack of personnel on the BTL and SUTL waiting to become pilots; the gaps are in pilot training and pilot absorption through the OTUs.
 

CBH99

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Expanded demand (added CC17 and CH147 without divestment) coupled with a training system barely able to sustain, but no capacity to grow. That training bottleneck results in years of service being eaten up while individual are still not qualified. Ideally, you want to maximize years of trained service - if it takes 7 years to get to an employable pilot, that's 28% of the career of a 25-year ( ie pensionable) pilot gone before any return on investment.

The RCAF owns the pilot training system. There's no lack of individuals wanting to become pilots, no lack of personnel on the BTL and SUTL waiting to become pilots; the gaps are in pilot training and pilot absorption through the OTUs.
- When you say the training system is barely able to sustain, but not able to grow. Would you mind elaborating on that, even if just briefly? (Sorry if that sounds like an elementary question, I'm just trying to really make sure I actually understand some of the issues challenging us)

With a training backlog that long, it's to be expected that people would find a way to leave early. Imagine a job you were super excited for, and worked unbelievably hard to get, only to 'not do the job' for years on end...ugh.


- When you say the RCAF owns the pilot training program, and the gap is in pilot training & absorption at the squadrons, what would be a viable solution to either improve or eliminate the problem? (Is it a lack of training aircraft? A lack of consistent classes? A lack of instructors?)
 

SupersonicMax

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The biggest factor right now is retention, not training. We can't train ourselves out of the whole we are in. We need experienced people to keep crewing the aircraft and teach the new generations. If you look at the RCAF experience levels vs other NATO/FVEY countries, you'll see we are WAY behind both in average experience and maximum experience. COVID bought the RCAF 2-3 years to the eventual collapse. I just hope we are able to capitalize on that saving grace.

We need initiatives to keep people and for people to be enticed to come back.
 

dapaterson

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Let's suppose there are 100 pilots in the CAF. If ten retire every year, and we train ten every year, we are balanced.

If we add ten more pilot positions, then we need to train twenty pilots in a year, and eleven a year on an ongoing basis (steady state). But if the training system can only train ten a year, we can keep up with that attrition, but not grow the additional ten pilots needed.

To fix the problem is broad, but at its most basic: increase throughput through the training system, including the OTUs. To do that, however, may require the RCAF to reduce force output, by fleet, over several years to catch up. The specifics will vary by fleet.

Even enrolling individuals with pilots licenses or prior experience does not necessarily mitigate the problem; a Dutch Major with 1500 hours on the F16 would still require conversion training and some Canadian specific training before we send them to Cold Lake.
 

Colin Parkinson

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But the grass is always greener on the other side of the airfield...
Ad in Aussie newspaper:

Tired of the heat?
Tired of everything in your yard trying to kill you?
Tired of driving on the wrong side of the road?

Do you want to:
Barbecue moose meat?
Drink beer as good or better than yours?
Drive on the right side of the road?
Be able to visit another country without getting onto a boat or airplane?
Put real Maple Syrup on your pancakes
See all your mates and lasses that work in Whistler?
Fly your Dads fighter jet?

Then the RCAF and Cold lake (where the beer is always cold) awaits you! Fly with the best, fly with the Cobra Chickens!
 

SupersonicMax

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Even enrolling individuals with pilots licenses or prior experience does not necessarily mitigate the problem; a Dutch Major with 1500 hours on the F16 would still require conversion training and some Canadian specific training before we send them to Cold Lake.
That's a very shallow understanding of how we employ aircraft. At some point, the type of airplane is irrelevant. The conversion is 2-3 months/15-20 hours. What is important is understanding the employment part. We've had very good success doing exactly that: taking F-16 drivers and making them Hornet drivers. They were effective as soon as they finished the OTU and almost instantly became 4-ship leads/tactical IPs, a process that takes 4-5 years coming out of the OTU.

To fix the problem is broad, but at its most basic: increase throughput through the training system, including the OTUs. To do that, however, may require the RCAF to reduce force output, by fleet, over several years to catch up. The specifics will vary by fleet.

Increasing the throughput of the training pipeline now will only exacerbate the problem. We need to keep pilot in flying positions longer (which we are being successful at doing now) and find ways to retain people longer (which we are still struggling to do. COVID just provided a very temporary band aid). 410 TF(OT)S reduced its throughput from 24 every two years to 15 every two years to support that. We don't need ten 500-hour wingmen on Squadron. We need a balanced level of experience, ideally biased towards the high-end. Imagine if we were capable of keeping pilots on Squadron for 15 years. We would only have to train 3-4 pilots per year, a massive reduction in cost. It is always cheaper to retain someone than train a new pilot.
 

SeaKingTacco

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That's a very shallow understanding of how we employ aircraft. At some point, the type of airplane is irrelevant. The conversion is 2-3 months/15-20 hours. What is important is understanding the employment part. We've had very good success doing exactly that: taking F-16 drivers and making them Hornet drivers. They were effective as soon as they finished the OTU and almost instantly became 4-ship leads/tactical IPs, a process that takes 4-5 years coming out of the OTU.



Increasing the throughput of the training pipeline now will only exacerbate the problem. We need to keep pilot in flying positions longer (which we are being successful at doing now) and find ways to retain people longer (which we are still struggling to do. COVID just provided a very temporary band aid). 410 TF(OT)S reduced its throughput from 24 every two years to 15 every two years to support that. We don't need ten 500-hour wingmen on Squadron. We need a balanced level of experience, ideally biased towards the high-end. Imagine if we were capable of keeping pilots on Squadron for 15 years. We would only have to train 3-4 pilots per year, a massive reduction in cost. It is always cheaper to retain someone than train a new pilot.
A lot of the loss we suffer on MH Sqns is the giant sucking sound to fill strat level, no fail, HQ jobs.

It isn’t “the” solution, but it is part of the puzzle.

The other aspect is that we tend to burn folks out on Ops. Sailing 200-300 days/year is fun- for a while.
 

SupersonicMax

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A lot of the loss we suffer on MH Sqns is the giant sucking sound to fill strat level, no fail, HQ jobs.

It isn’t “the” solution, but it is part of the puzzle.

The other aspect is that we tend to burn folks out on Ops. Sailing 200-300 days/year is fun- for a while.
We were able to cut that list down in our community, leaving only a handful of staff jobs, directly related to fighter operations, to be filled. We are beyond the critical level however (somewhere around 50-60% PML. It may have gotten better since last year because of COVID).
 

Zoomie

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It will get better for the Fighter Force when we buy F-35s and the ATPL candidates dry up at Cool Pool and Bagtown.
 
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