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Karol Wenek
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Karol Wenek
2011-02-15 12:27
Yes, I'd be happy to.
Just to elaborate a bit on the issue of safety, I think our primary concern is the increased risk of individual performance failure as people's physical and psychological fitness naturally deteriorate over time. We have a little bit of internal evidence that supports this view.
Several years ago, we had what I would call a bit of a spike in the number of medical releases we were seeing in the regular component. I commissioned a study to look at what the correlates were of that spike, what the causal factors were, or some of the antecedents. The primary factor that predicted that spike in medical releases was length of service, particularly past 12 and 15 years of service, and particularly in the harder combat trades, as we term them. There was that increased incidence. Most of the issues were musculoskeletal injuries. In other words, this is all attributable to wear and tear on the body from jumping out of aircraft and riding around in hard vehicles, those kinds of things.
So that was a supporting piece of evidence for that deterioration. We know also that with age, your physical abilities deteriorate somewhat. It's not rapid, it's not the same across people, but there is that kind of deterioration.
In a small fighting force like ours--it is relatively small by world standards--it's important that everybody be capable of carrying the load. That's what the universality of service principle refers to, really. It gives us the capability to rotate individuals and units through operational settings. We can't just send people over there for an indefinite period of time. It would essentially result in fighting those units down. So they have to be rotated, and that means the bench strength has to be there to allow for that rotation.
The risk here is that if you have people who are going to those settings, while they may be prepared to accept the risk to themselves personally, we can't accept the risk that they would pose to others. Unit effectiveness is a function of the collective performance of all of the people on the team. If one individual fails, the team may fail, and that may mean lack of success of the mission or injuries to others.
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