Culture of Service is Crucial to Recruiting Millennials

Chief of Staff David Goldfein said Tuesday that Air Force culture will be the crucial factor in the service’s efforts to attract and retain the specialized personnel it needs among the millennial generation. “We’re all in competition for talent,” Goldfein told the audience at New America’s “Future of War” event in Washington, D.C., and students graduating from high school are “looking to find themselves in the organization” that employs them. As such, he said the service is looking for the kind of young person who can “find himself in the Air Force.” He told the story of Gen. John Hyten, boss of US Strategic Command, who, on a recent visit to JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., was greeted by a senior airman driving a Tesla Model S. Hyten was confused about how he could afford such an expensive car, until the senior airman told him he was a Reservist who also worked as director of cyber security for a major online company. Goldfein said he learned from this story that USAF can’t compete on the terms of compensation. “We don’t pay that guy’s tip money,” he said. What the Air Force can offer such a skilled worker, however, is significance. This senior airman was a Reservist because “he wants to serve,” Goldfein insisted. And that’s something he couldn’t get at Google or Amazon.