This week I was sent an email asking if I would consider staying at Hanscom.  They offered to have our 3-star intervene on my behalf to extend my assignment at Hanscom.  With the extension would have been a move to a new office, working on establishing an Air Force Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) program.  While I strong agree with the concept of the Air Force establishing several PaaS offerings, I didn’t take the offer.

There were three reasons for this:

  1. The Air Force had previously refused a request for an extension from my boss.  Now, possibly, a 3-star would have different results, but we did go to that well once and came back dry.
  2. Most importantly, I’m burned out.  I have gone through probably four to five burnouts over the past four years.  I have managed to recover and to gain enough energy to keep moving, but I’ve been slowly getting weaker over time.  I think I need a change.
  3. Lastly, I had tried to get several cyber related jobs and have been refused.  I applied to be the Air Force Cyber Fellow and failed.  I tried to get jobs at both USCYBERCOM and AFCYBER and failed.  Okay, I get the hint… someone in the personnel system believe that it is time for me to get out of the software business.

Well, those are the three reasons I gave.  There are a few others that I didn’t mentioned.  One of them is that I’m up to retire in the next few years, and being out of this business for a couple of years actually increases my marketability.  There are ethics laws I must follow when I retire and the most common one is a year suspension from working for a company that you have directly worked for as a government employee.  Well, in some ways I’m going to be able to do that suspension while working at Eglin, so once I retire, I can go straight to work… at least if I chose to go back into this business as a contractor.

The other issue is that I don’t think the Air Force will be successful in developing a family of PaaS offerings.  Our requirements and acquisition framework are structured to directly connect an operational user with a specific capability.  PaaS is a common capability, but there are no agreed upon mean on how to do requirements for a common capability.  Unless several AF Instructions, and the FAR is changed, any PaaS program will be inherently high risk of failure.  While technically it is doable and while I believe that our leadership wants to do it, none of this will matter at my level.  I’ll be left working on a program that is fundamentally broken and easily sabotaged by others (which is likely since we will need to take some of their funding).  I wish the framework was in place to make this a viable program, and perhaps the necessary changes will be made if this is important enough for our leadership.

There is a downside for my decision.  If I had taken the offer, I would have significantly improved my changes of getting promoted.  With my experience at ESC and the expertise I bring to the table, I would have likely received a Definite Promote recommendation which translates into an 80+% chance of promotion.  My move to AFRL is at the worse possible time for my promotion and it will be very difficult to get a Definite Promote from AFRL.  This drops my chances to promote to under 50%.  It is likely that with this one decision I just ended my career.

However, I made that decision with those facts on the table and I’ll live by them.  I have been thinking about retiring for a while, so taking retirement isn’t something I’m avoiding.  Had the assignment been to a place that we didn’t want to go to, I would have put in my retirement paperwork then.

Well, it is nice to be wanted and appreciated.  I would like to think that I’ve made a difference here and that it will have a lasting effect even after I leave.  Until then, I’m looking forward to moving to Florida, especially as the snow has decided to visit.