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CGO, 5/6 Councils debate BRS

Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna (right), 50th Space Wing command chief, presents the Schriever Debate trophy to the 5/6 Council debate team following the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The 5/6 Council defeated the CGO Council in the first iteration of the new event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna (right), 50th Space Wing command chief, presents the Schriever Debate trophy to the 5/6 Council debate team following the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The 5/6 Council defeated the CGO Council in the first iteration of the new event. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Staff Sgt. Francis Goodwin, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, argues his position in favor of the current Air Force retirement system during the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The event pit members of the 5/6 Council against members of the CGO Council as they debated the merits of the new blended retirement system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Staff Sgt. Francis Goodwin, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, argues his position in favor of the current Air Force retirement system during the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The event pit members of the 5/6 Council against members of the CGO Council as they debated the merits of the new blended retirement system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Second Lt. Sean Donovan, 4th Space Operations Squadron, explains why the new blended retirement system is a better option for Airmen during the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The Schriever Top III sponsored the event, in part, to give Team Schriever members an opportunity to discuss and learn about topics affecting both their professional and personal development. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Second Lt. Sean Donovan, 4th Space Operations Squadron, explains why the new blended retirement system is a better option for Airmen during the first Schriever Debate at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The Schriever Top III sponsored the event, in part, to give Team Schriever members an opportunity to discuss and learn about topics affecting both their professional and personal development. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Keep the current retirement system or switch to the new blended retirement system?

That was the question posed to debate team members from the CGO and 5/6 Councils during the first Schriever Debate here Thursday.

The CGO Council (1st Lt. Stephen Bittner, 50th Contracting Squadron, 1st Lt. Sean Donovan, 2nd Lt. Rain Dartt and 2nd Lt. Ikenna Olelewe, all 4th Space Operations Squadron) had the position in favor of the BRS, while the 5/6 Council (Staff Sgts. Francis Goodwin and Joshua Reinoso, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, and Tech. Sgt. Katrena Holmes and Staff Sgt. Crystal Herrera, 21st Medical Squadron) argued in favor of keeping the current system.

The debate was contested under a modified Oxford format, with each team giving two 5-minute arguments in favor of their position and a 3-minute rebuttal to the opponent’s position. Both teams were judged on professionalism, significance to the subject given, proper articulation of position and strength of argument/justification.

Teams were given a list of eight potential topics a month prior to the debate. With one week left to prepare, the list was narrowed to three. Teams found out what topic they would debate 24 hours before the event and were given their position on the topic 15 minutes before the debate began.

Master Sgt. Abifarin Scott, 2 SOPS, served as the moderator and made clear before any arguments were presented the positions taken by each team member didn’t necessarily reflect their personal opinion on the topic.

Reinoso opened the debate by laying out his team’s three key points in favor of keeping the current retirement system; he used Social Security as an example of a similar system to blended retirement and how it’s expected to run dry by 2034, he cited a poll of civilian employees utilizing a 401(k)-style retirement that said 89 percent are not confident about retirement and closed by arguing the Department of Defense is using blended retirement to save money at the expense of troops.

Dartt countered with two simple points; under the current plan, those retiring before giving 20 years of service get nothing, and moving to the BRS is an admission the current system is out of date.

“Are you a gambling man, or woman,” Goodwin asked as he opened his argument. “The blended retirement system is like gambling with your retirement.”

He said the current system is best because retirees will walk away with guaranteed money and moving to a riskier system could ultimately affect retention.

Donovan was quick to point out the BRS still gives retirees 40 percent of their money guaranteed and said the new system isn’t as risky as it sounds.

“The S&P 500 has never gone down in any 25-year period. Ever,” he said.

Bittner presented the CGO rebuttals while Holmes provided the rebuttal for the 5/6. After three rounds of debate, the 5/6 Council came away with the win.

“I thought it turned out exceptionally well,” said Scott.

The debate was judged by a panel of both officer and enlisted leadership from the base including, Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, 50th Space Wing command chief, Maj. Rickie Banister, 50 SW Inspector General’s Office, Chief Master Sgt. David Pesch, 50th Operations Group, Maj. Latoya Smith, 50th Comptroller Squadron commander, and Master Sgt. Joseph Hardy, 50th Network Operations Group.

The debate was Scott’s brain child and sponsored by the Schriever Air Force Base Top III.

“I saw it the first year I was in the Air Force and wanted to bring it back,” Scott said. “I presented my idea to the Top III and Chief (Bentivegna) and they loved it. Then we got the professional councils to sponsor teams.

“The Top III is charged with being the professional development entity on base and we want to come up with new and inventive ways to do that,” he continued. “Debates are not common and we wanted to show the base we can talk about controversial topics.”

While the judges determined the winner, both teams fielded questions from audience members regarding the BRS.

Bentivegna concluded the event by thanking the teams for researching the topic and providing valuable information and saying he looks forward to the next debate.

“This sparks discussion and dialogue,” he said. “This is about education and talking to give us information.”

Scott said he hopes to hold a debate each quarter and plans to have a hotter topic at the next debate.

“We’ll have a more controversial topic next time,” he said. “It could be anything affecting our base. We know people have an opinion and this (format) forces them to do research to support their position.”

For more information, or to participate in the next debate, call Scott at 567-2476.

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