US Army Demands Additional Commitment From Aviators

Change for pilots brings the branch in line with other services.

AH-64 Apache
New Army pilots could end up flying aircraft like this AH-64 Apache.Courtesy US Army/Maj. Robert Fellingham

There was a time when men and women who joined the United States Army could take advantage of the service’s program that taught them to fly any of a variety of helicopters and left them on the hook for a relatively short six-year commitment. But those days are no more. The US Army plans to initiate next month a new 10-year commitment that will bring the service in line with the commitments required for pilots in other branches of the military services. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced the new policy in June and the Army issued guidance this month according to a recent story in the Stars and Stripes. The Army said the longer service obligation will give a pilot the time needed to “become a technical and tactical expert.”

The Army, like the other services, is experiencing a shortage of qualified pilots because of retirements and—until recently—stiff competition from the commercial airlines, the Stars and Stripes added. Earlier this year, the Army added incentive pay of up to $1,000 to keep its pilots. Critics question how the increased service commitment will convince more pilots to want to learn to fly. The new commitment will also apply to Army Reserve and National Guard pilots.

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