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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment 2 Military Manpower Requirements This chapter outlines the “demand” for military manpower and the processes that are used to determine force size and structure, recruiting challenges, and retention needs. The two central questions are: (1) Will the United States need a larger force in the future? (2) Will a different level of personnel aptitude or skill mix be required? Answers to these questions depend on the missions to be performed. As missions and priorities change, so do the recruiting requirements. Thus, future recruiting need is a function of any mission changes that would dictate a change in force size as well as any changes in retention that would dictate a change in the number of positions to be filled by new recruits. Our review of these factors is divided into three major sections. The first section discusses future defense strategies and force structure policy decisions presented by the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Department of Defense (DoD). The second section provides a discussion of force size and level of recruit qualifications from an historical perspective. The third section examines the implications of past and present trends in attrition and retention for recruiting. Each offers guidance concerning both current and future military recruitment needs. Figure 2-1 provides an overview of the major factors involved in the process of establishing recruiting requirements. The size and shape of the military services are determined by the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the National Military Strategy (NMS). The NSS is developed by the National Command Authority (the President and the National Security Council) and is usually prepared by each new administration every four years. Although national security is
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment FIGURE 2-1 Manpower planning. certainly a responsibility of the military, it also has diplomatic, economic, and informational dimensions as well. The NSS provides the overall guidance to all agencies of the federal government with roles in national security. Its function is to: ensure U.S. security and freedom of action, honor international commitments, and contribute to economic well-being. The NMS is derived from the NSS by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The NMS describes the use of military power in peace and war to help meet national security objectives. The commanders in chief of the regional combatant commands develop their theater strategies from the NMS. The actual military force structure (size— i.e., end strength) and shape (skills, organizational structure, etc.) are based on the specified and implied missions in the NMS. For example, if the U.S. Navy is required to maintain a continuous forward presence in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf, then a minimum number of ships is required, which in turn requires a certain number and skill mix of people to man those ships. The Services, through the DoD budget process, request authorization for their required personnel end strength (size) and for the necessary appropriations (funds to pay for that end strength) each year. The approved DoD budget is authorized and appropriated by Congress and
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment signed by the President. In some cases, the funds appropriated do not match the numbers authorized—in these cases each Service has the option, up to a point, of taking some funds appropriated for other programs to pay for the additional personnel authorized. Recruiting requirements are determined by anticipated shortfalls in authorized end strength.1 This involves comparing the current number on active duty and the end strength authorized for the coming fiscal year and projecting personnel losses for that year. Personnel losses are calculated by adding estimates of voluntary losses and estimated losses based on those who do not reenlist when their terms of service expire and to estimated losses from attrition prior to the end of an enlistment term (for medical, disciplinary, or other reasons). End strength requirements, that is the raw numbers needed, are necessary but not sufficient to the process. Recruiting goals also take into account specific skills required, some of which involve higher initial qualifications than others. Qualified recruits are channeled into schools to train them for specific jobs. The Services can reduce the number required to recruit by reducing the number of voluntary losses and attrition, or increasing retention, or both. However, there is a limit to this strategy. The military requires a constant influx of new young people, and therefore it is as important to bring in new young men and women as it is to keep an optimal number of trained and experienced military members. The desired retention rate differs for each Service on the basis of its mission (i.e., the Army and the Marine Corps require more young people to perform very physically demanding duties; Air Force and Navy jobs are generally more technically oriented, require more experienced individuals, and thus have higher targets for first-term retention rates). SHAPING THE FORCE Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military force has become significantly smaller and has been asked to respond to numerous diverse situations around the world. Some of these situations have required war fighting, others have involved peacekeeping, and still others have focused on humanitarian aid. In many situations, there has been uncertainty concerning whether, how, or at what level U.S. troops should be engaged. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Cen- 1 This is certainly a “crystal ball” exercise, but it is based on historical data that give good indications for future activity. It can, however, be changed significantly by uncontrollable events during the year (e.g., the unemployment rate, quality-of-life issues).
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment ter and the Pentagon have put into motion a series of political, economic, and military actions to secure the homeland and to combat terrorism around the world. In response to the terrorist attacks, President Bush and his administration have established a new Office of Homeland Security, obtained international agreements to freeze the assets of terrorist organizations, obtained support from U.S. allies to grant access to airfields and seaports, deployed troops, and ousted the Taliban regime from Afghanistan. In June 2002, the President asked that the Congress join him in creating a single, permanent department (the Department of Homeland Security) with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people. Indications are that this new department will have little impact on the size or shape of the DoD or the military. The war against terrorism continues on many fronts and will be a long one, requiring all national security tools, including the military. It is difficult to predict what the demands for military forces will be at any given time. The discussion below illustrates current thinking regarding strategies and personnel deployment and the kinds of decisions that must be made. We are aware that the details presented will change as a function of world events. The most reliable and complete source for current military thinking is the Quadrennial Defense Review or QDR (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001), which addresses certain elements of the NSS and covers virtually all elements of a NMS; we draw primarily on the QDR in this discussion. Much has been said about potentially major changes for the military that could have an impact on the numbers and types of young men and women needed in the “transformed” military. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld states specifically that a central objective is to shift the basis of defense planning from a “threat-based” model, which has dominated military thinking in the past, to a “capabilities-based” model for the future. The events of September 11 signaled that the security of the homeland must be the first priority. Government officials now realize that they cannot predict where or when or how America, Americans, or American interests will be attacked. They can no longer focus on the Cold War notion of two nearly simultaneous major theater wars as the sole model for building, equiping, and training U.S. military forces. New strategic planning principles include emphasis on homeland defense, on surprise, on preparing for asymmetric threats, on the need to develop new concepts of deterrence, on the need for a capabilities-based strategy, and on the need to balance deliberately the different dimensions of risk. The strategy for America’s defense seeks to assure allies and friends that the United States can fulfill its security commitments, to dissuade
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment adversaries from undertaking operations that could threaten U.S. interests, to deter aggression by swiftly defeating attacks and imposing severe penalties for aggression, and to decisively defeat any adversary if deterrence fails. DoD has also announced the establishment of a new unified combatant commander for homeland security to help coordinate military efforts. The intent is to accomplish this with the current end strength. However, “Preparing forces for homeland security may require changes in force structure and organization.... U.S. forces...require more effective means, methods, and organizations to perform these missions” (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:19). DoD is now specifically required to plan for a larger base of forces from which to provide forward-deployed forces, in order to support long-standing contingency commitments in the critical areas of interest. DoD must ensure that it has sufficient numbers of specialized forces and capabilities so that it does not overstress elements of the force when it is involved in smaller-scale contingency operations (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:21). This larger base of forces is to be provided on a rotational basis. As mentioned earlier, the Services calculate deployment numbers in multiples of three: for every soldier on a mission, a second must be in training for that role, and a third will have just returned from the mission assignment and is scheduled for retraining. A recent newspaper article claimed that for every deployed soldier, there are seven in support, which presumably include trainers and base support personnel, in addition to those in the rotation described above. DoD is developing more effective ways to compute the required rotational base across various types of forces to support forward posture. Changes potentially affecting force structure include: (1) a more streamlined organizational structure with a reduction in headquarters staffs, a consolidation of overlapping functions of Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Services, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and changes in military departments; (2) the possibility of a joint Services training capability, the establishment of a Joint Opposing Force, and the creation of a Standing Joint Task Force; and (3) Service-specific decisions to increase presence in various parts of the world. The current focus on combating terrorism does not change the need to respond to other events around the world as they call for attention. Many of the planning documents in place prior to September 11 still apply. For example, Joint Vision 2020 (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2000) suggests that U.S. international interests in security, politics, and economics will further expand as a result of the wide availability of new information,
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment communication, and transportation technologies. Many countries will have access to the same technology, so it will not be possible for the United States and its allies to maintain a total technological advantage over their adversaries. This document also anticipated the increasing use of asymmetric methods, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11. As plans for force structure are being formulated, advances in technology are making it possible to automate many functions currently performed by personnel. Among these are smart ships, such as the DDX class warships, and remotely piloted, armed aircraft—under development for both the Air Force and the Navy (Hey, 2001). It is anticipated that remotely piloted aircraft being built by Boeing as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort will cost less to operate and support than manned vehicles; the goal is to have 30 aircraft in operation by 2010 (Hebert, 2001). However, according to Blake Crane, a Heritage Foundation defense analyst, remotely piloted planes are seen as a supplement to manned military craft, not as a replacement (Hey, 2001). Another initiative is the establishment of two new Air Force squadrons devoted to preparing U.S. defenses against attacks in space on commercial satellites and other spacecraft. One squadron will explore future space technologies, and the other will play the enemy role in war game exercises. Although planning documents discuss many initiatives that could require more people, they also suggest reallocating personnel resources rather than increasing overall end strength. FORCE CHARACTERISTICS Force Size As described above, the size of the U.S. military force is driven by many factors. In response to those factors, the Services are now dramatically smaller than they were a few years ago. After a period of relative stability in force size during the 1970s and early 1980s, the Services have seen a consistent drop since 1987. Between 1987 and 2000, the active component of the enlisted force decreased in size by 38 percent, from 1.85 to 1.15 million enlisted members. During those same years, the reserve component of enlisted strength decreased 26 percent, from 989,000 to 733,000 (U.S. Department of Defense, 2002). (The role of the National Guard has taken on increased importance with the new emphasis on homeland security; however, in this study we did not review data on the National Guard.) The reductions in force size observed during the 1990s appear at this point to have leveled off; in fact, the chiefs of staff of each of the Services suggested in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (March 7, 2002) that force size needs to grow somewhat over the
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment next few years. Table 2-1 displays the active component of enlisted strength by Service from 1980 through 2000. Table 2-2 displays the reserve component of enlisted strength by Service for the same time period. Given recent terrorist threats to the United States, it seems unlikely that force sizes will be significantly reduced in the near term from their current levels. In fact, during the development of the QDR, DoD specifically “assessed the current force structure across several combinations of scenarios on the basis of the new defense strategy and force sizing construct.” Some scenarios resulted in moderate operational risk in mission accomplishment; some resulted in “high risk” (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:22). One could argue that this makes the case for increased force structure—certainly to maintain the current force structure as a minimum. In fact, Congress authorized, in the fiscal year 2002 (FY 2002) budget, each of the Services to have on hand personnel up to 2 percent above their authorized strength. But the money to pay for those additional people was not appropriated; the Services had to take money from other TABLE 2-1 Active Component Enlisted Strength (in thousands) Fiscal Year Army Navy Marine Corps Air Force Total DoD 1964 860.5 585.4 172.9 720.6 2329.4 1980 673.9 459.6 170.3 455.9 1759.7 1981 675.1 470.2 172.3 466.5 1784.0 1982 672.7 481.2 173.4 476.5 1803.8 1983 669.4 484.6 174.1 483.0 1811.1 1984 667.7 491.3 175.9 486.4 1821.3 1985 666.6 495.4 177.9 488.6 1828.5 1986 666.7 504.4 178.6 494.7 1844.3 1987 668.4 510.2 177.0 495.2 1853.3 1988 660.4 515.6 177.3 466.9 1820.1 1989 658.3 515.9 176.9 462.8 1813.9 1990 623.5 501.5 176.5 430.8 1732.4 1991 602.6 494.5 174.1 409.4 1680.5 1992 511.3 467.5 165.2 375.7 1519.8 1993 480.3 438.9 160.1 356.1 1435.4 1994 451.4 401.7 156.3 341.3 1350.7 1995 421.5 370.9 156.8 317.9 1267.2 1996 405.1 354.1 157.0 308.6 1224.9 1997 408.1 334.2 156.2 299.4 1197.9 1998 402.0 322.1 155.3 291.6 1170.9 1999 396.2 314.3 154.8 286.2 1151.4 2000 402.2 314.1 155.0 282.3 1153.6 SOURCE: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) (2000).
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment TABLE 2-2 Reserve Component Enlisted Strength Fiscal Year Army National Guard U.S. Army Reserve U.S. Navy Reserve U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Air National Guard U.S. Air Force Reserve Total DoD 1980 329,298 169,165 70,010 33,002 84,382 45,954 731,811 1981 350,645 188,103 72,608 34,559 85,915 52,686 784,516 1982 367,214 208,617 75,674 37,104 88,140 50,553 827,302 1983 375,500 216,218 88,474 39,005 89,500 52,810 861,507 1984 392,412 222,188 98,187 37,444 92,178 55,340 897,749 1985 397,612 238,220 106,529 38,204 96,361 59,599 936,525 1986 402,628 253,070 116,640 38,123 99,231 62,505 972,197 1987 406,487 255,291 121,938 38,721 100,827 63,855 987,119 1988 406,966 253,467 121,653 39,930 101,261 65,567 988,844 1989 406,848 256,872 122,537 39,948 101,980 66,126 994,311 1990 394,060 248,326 123,117 40,903 103,637 66,566 976,609 1991 395,988 249,626 123,727 41,472 103,670 67,603 982,086 1992 378,904 245,135 115,341 38,748 104,758 65,806 948,692 1993 363,263 219,610 105,254 38,092 102,920 64,720 893,859 1994 351,390 206,849 86,300 36,860 99,711 63,411 844,521 1995 331,559 191,558 79,827 36,292 96,305 62,144 797,685 1996 328,141 179,967 77,376 37,256 97,153 57,615 777,508 1997 329,288 168,596 75,373 37,254 96,713 56,068 763,295 1998 323,150 161,286 73,490 36,620 94,861 56,032 745,439 1999 319,161 161,930 69,999 35,947 92,424 55,557 735,018 2000 315,645 165,053 67,999 35,699 93,019 55,676 733,091 SOURCE: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) (2000). portions of their budget if they wished to increase their end strength. In addition, the extra authorization was not included for FY 2003—adding people in one year and having to go back to original end strength the next year is not easily done, even for a few thousand people. After six months of the war on terrorism, along with all the other military commitments, the Washington Times on April 10, 2002, reported the Services as needing as many as 51,400 more troops (an increase of about 5 percent to current end strength). But the cost of personnel is very high and already a significant proportion of the DoD budget. The article states, “it would cost $40,000 [per year] to add each enlisted person, in addition to the $10,000 to recruit that person.” Note that the QDR looks for ways other than just increased force structure to mitigate the operational risk, to include possible “changes in capabilities, concepts of operations, and organizational designs” (p. 61). Secretary Rumsfeld is on record as saying that he is not yet ready to
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment increase end strength—he wants to look for other ways to address these issues. One way is through reductions in current commitments; another is to reduce the numbers of personnel required to accomplish certain functions. A good example is the Navy’s DD-X warship, being built from the ground up to require a crew of only 95, compared with the 300 needed today. At the same time that force levels were dropping, the average age of Service members was increasing. For example, between 1980 and 1997, the average age of members of the enlisted force rose from 25 to 27 (U.S. Department of Defense, 2002). The overall DoD force profile reveals that about half the enlisted force has less than 6 years of service, 45 percent has between 6 and 19 years of service, and the remaining 4 percent has 20 or more years of service. According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (2001), in 2000, the force was 18 percent female as contrasted with 51 percent female in the general civilian population ages 18–24. The ethnic distribution of the force was 62 percent white, 20 percent black, and 11 percent Hispanic as contrasted with 65 percent, 14 percent, and 15 percent, respectively, in the general civilian population ages 18–24. Even given the uncertainty of future demand and concerns about the adequacy of current end strength numbers, there is no compelling evidence that the requirement for end strength will change radically in the future. Recruiting Results The Services have generally responded to decreasing force sizes by lowering the number of new recruits that they acquired in any given year. Some discharge policies were also liberalized during times of downsizing. While the Services required over 388,000 non-prior-service and prior-service recruits in 1980, that number had dropped to 175,000 recruits in 1995—a 55 percent reduction. As a result of these lower numbers of new recruits needed, Service-recruiting commands were generally very successful in meeting their goals during the late 1980s and early 1990s. As Table 2-3 shows, however, some of the Services failed to meet their goals once force sizes leveled off and the numbers of new recruits needed to meet end strength started increasing. What the table does not show, however, is the relative difficulty of achieving these goals. For example, even if recruiting is very easy in any given year, the Services would not substantially exceed their goals because of congressional limits on their end strength. Thus, one cannot tell from the table alone whether any Service struggled to meet its goal on the last day of the year or was certain it would meet its goal early in the year.
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment TABLE 2-3 Active Enlisted Recruiting Goals and Success by Service Army Navy Marine Corps Air Force Total DoD Fiscal Year Goal Actual Goal Actual Goal Actual Goal Actual Goal Actual % 1980 172,800 173,228 97,627 97,678 43,684 44,281 74,674 74,674 388,785 389,861 100 1981 136,800 137,916 101,904 104,312 42,584 43,010 81,044 81,044 362,332 366,282 101 1982 125,100 130,198 81,922 92,784 40,558 40,141 73,620 73,620 321,200 336,743 105 1983 144,500 145,287 82,790 82,790 37,690 39,057 63,591 63,591 328,571 330,725 101 1984 141,757 142,266 82,907 82,907 38,665 42,205 61,079 61,079 324,408 328,457 101 1985 125,300 125,443 87,592 87,592 36,536 36,620 67,021 67,021 316,449 316,676 100 1986 135,250 135,530 94,878 94,878 36,682 36,763 64,400 66,379 331,210 333,550 101 1987 132,000 133,016 92,909 92,909 34,713 34,872 55,000 56,029 314,622 316,826 101 1988 115,000 115,386 93,939 93,939 35,911 35,965 41,200 41,500 286,050 286,790 100 1989 119,875 120,535 94,286 95,186 34,130 34,424 43,730 43,751 292,021 293,896 101 1990 87,000 89,620 72,402 72,846 33,521 33,600 36,249 36,249 229,172 232,315 101 1991 78,241 78,241 68,311 68,311 30,015 30,059 30,006 30,006 206,573 206,617 100 1992 75,000 77,583 58,208 58,208 31,851 31,852 35,109 35,109 200,168 202,752 101 1993 76,900 77,563 63,073 63,073 34,802 34,776 31,515 31,515 206,290 206,927 100 1994 68,000 68,039 53,964 53,982 32,056 32,056 30,000 30,019 184,020 184,096 100 1995 62,929 62,929 48,637 48,637 32,346 33,217 30,894 31,000 174,806 175,783 101 1996 73,400 73,418 48,206 48,206 33,173 33,496 30,867 30,867 185,646 185,987 100 1997 82,000 82,088 50,135 50,135 34,512 34,548 30,310 30,310 196,957 197,081 100 1998 72,550 71,733 55,321 48,429 34,244 34,285 30,194 31,685 192,309 186,132 97 1999 74,500 68,209 52,524 52,595 33,668 33,703 34,400 32,673 195,092 187,180 96 2000 80,000 80,113 55,000 55,147 32,417 32,440 34,600 35,217 202,017 202,917 100 2001 75,800 75,855 53,520 53,690 31,404 31,429 34,600 35,381 195,324 196,355 101 SOURCE: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) (2001).
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment What is shown by the data, however, is that fiscal years 1998 and 1999 were very difficult for many Services since they did not meet their goals. Force Quality The size of the force (end strength) is specified by Congress, in response to many factors, as described earlier. Service effectiveness, however, depends on more than just end strength; the education and aptitude of Service personnel has a direct relationship to mission performance (Armor and Roll, 1994). As noted in the QDR (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:9): The Department of Defense must recruit, train, and retain people with the broad skills and good judgment needed to address the dynamic challenges of the 21st century. Having the right kinds of imaginative, highly motivated military and civilian personnel, at all levels, is the essential prerequisite for achieving success. Advanced technology and new operational concepts cannot be fully exploited unless the Department has highly qualified and motivated enlisted personnel and officers who not only can operate these highly technical systems, but also can lead effectively in the highly complex military environment of the future.2 Typically, two measures are used to assess the overall education and aptitude of the enlisted force: cognitive ability (as measured by scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test [AFQT]) and educational attainment. DoD sets minimum levels required in both areas for new recruits; the Services can—and often do—set their own enlistment standards that can exceed the minimums established by DoD (See Chapter 4, this volume). As measured by either AFQT or educational attainment levels, the Services today have a highly qualified enlisted force. Of the 1.15 million active component enlisted members in the Services at the end of FY 2000, 96 percent held at least a high school diploma, while an additional 3.3 percent held an alternative high school credential (e.g., a GED certificate). The combined 99.3 percent of enlisted members holding some type of high school credential compares very favorably with the civilian population rate (ages 18–44) of 88.6 percent (Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 1999:Table 3-7). Because the AFQT is used primarily as a qualifying standard for enlistment, DoD does not routinely report the AFQT levels of the entire enlisted force. DoD does report, however, the AFQT levels for each acces- 2 The skills needed to operate this technology are anticipated by a number of studies, including Soldier 21 and Sailor 21.
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment fected operationally by attrition. Attrition rates that exceed expectations translate into heightened recruitment needs and goals. Retention relates to recruitment in five ways. First, retained personnel are the largest numerical component of a fully manned service. As attrition rates increase, the need for replacements increases, which puts pressure on recruitment capabilities. Second, to the extent that attrition rates are differentiated across occupational specialties within a Service, unplanned attrition further compromises mission readiness. Retention is more than maintaining total head counts within a Service. The mix of personnel is also critical to readiness and mission accomplishment. Retaining an appropriate force mix has become increasingly challenging. Third, skill levels must be maintained at appropriate levels. The Services “grow their own,” and newly minted recruits cannot immediately replace seasoned veterans. For example, press reports indicated that in the late stages of the most recent Bosnian conflict, advanced military helicopters were on site and combat ready, but the equipment remained grounded for lack of combat-experienced pilots. Recruitment is not a quick fix for retention shortfalls. Fourth, the problems associated with within-Service supply-demand imbalances may be generalized across the Services. Each Service is part of a team with the other Services, and differential rates of attrition among the Services may also compromise readiness. Differential rates of attrition by military occupational specialties coupled with supply-demand imbalances across the Services dictate the qualifications that must be sought in recruits in a given period. A similar problem exists in the relationship between the active-duty forces and the Reserves. The increasing operational tempo in recent years has necessitated the increased participation of the Reserves. From November 1994 through December 2000, the use of Reserve forces increased from 8 to 12 million man-days per year (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:58). With the Reserves primarily responsible for a key component of the highest defense priority, homeland defense, increased attention must be paid to Reserve recruiting. Fifth, the expressed quality of military experience contributes to the attractiveness of military service for potential recruits. Recruitment goals are affected by policy changes, such as the planned 1991–1997 downsizing of the military, and the mix of occupational specialties changes in response to, for example, technological innovations and applications. However, assuming reasonably stable personnel demands over time, the extent to which the Services can maintain acceptable retention rates by enhancing the perceived quality of the military experience may effectively lower numerical recruitment requirements and build recruitment capabilities. There’s an old saying that when you recruit the military member, you
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment retain the family. The QDR specifically focuses on quality of life issues as “critical to retaining a Service member and his or her family. Recent surveys conducted by the Department indicate that the two primary reasons that Service members leave or consider leaving are basic pay and family separation” (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:9). Also, when the U.S. economy is strong, military members (and potential military members) have more alternatives. When jobs in the economy are hard to find, more young men and women view the military as a viable alternative for employment (Warner et al., 2001). In sum, recruitment needs are in part a function of service retention capabilities: each Service’s ability to retain personnel within acceptable rates of attrition and voluntary losses at the level required in each military occupational specialty (MOS). Attrition rates that exceed expectations translate into additional, unexpected recruitment needs. First-Term Attrition Table 2-6 presents aggregate rates of attrition for the military at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months over the 15-year period, 1985–1999. The size of the entry cohorts ranged from a high of 315,000 in 1986 to about half that many, 168,000, in 1995. The size of the most recent cohorts was about 10 percent higher than the smallest cohorts since 1985, averaging about 185,000—well below the size of the entry cohorts at the beginning of the period. Following the 1991–1997 drawdown, recruitment goals have remained modest, which suggests that recruitment difficulties cannot be attributed to increasing recruitment goals. From 1985 to 1999, aggregate attrition in the military rose systematically over each period for which losses were calculated—6, 12, 24, and 36 months. Attrition at 6 months rose from about 11 percent to about 15 percent; at 12 months from about 14 to about 19 percent; at 24 months from about 22 to about 26 percent; and at 36 months from about 28 to about 31 percent. Taking both cohort size and attrition rates into account indicates an inverse relationship between the two. The incremental increases in the cumulative attrition percentages remained relatively constant over the 15-year period. Attrition at the end of 6 months ranged from 11 to 16 percent. Losses over the period 6 to 12 months contributed about another 4 percent. Losses over 12 to 24 months contributed about 8 percent more, and losses over 24 to 36 months contributed about another 6 percent. In sum, the largest aggregate military attrition occurred within the first 6 months. About half of the cumulative attrition occurred by 12 months and, beginning about 1990, the period of
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment TABLE 2-6 Aggregate Military Attrition at 6, 12, 24, and 36 Months, 1985–1999 Enlisted during FY 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Percentage lost at 6 mos. 11 12 11 12 11 11 12 12 15 15 15 14 14 16 15 Percentage lost at 12 mos. 14 15 15 15 16 15 16 16 18 19 19 19 18 20 19 Percentage lost at 24 mos. 22 23 22 22 23 23 24 23 26 26 27 25 26 26 — Percentage lost at 36 mos. 28 29 28 28 30 29 30 29 32 33 33 31 31 — — Size of entry cohort 301K 315K 297K 273K 278K 224K 201K 201K 200K 176K 168K 180K 189K 180K 184K SOURCE: Correspondence from Vice Admiral P.A. Tracey, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, DC (2001).
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment the drawdown, the proportion of cumulative attrition occurring by 12 months edged even higher. There is preliminary indication that a turnaround in attrition rates may be taking place. All Services met their fiscal year 2001 recruiting goals. Furthermore, all Service branches were meeting their cumulative goals for retaining first-term enlisted personnel. However, while the Marine Corps and the Army were exceeding goals for second-term and career enlisted personnel, the Navy and the Air Force fell short. Attrition rates for the separate Services over the 15-year period follow the general pattern of the aggregate rates, as expected, although there are exceptions and countertrends (Table 2-7). Thus, attrition rises over the measurement period for each Service. The incremental increases in cumulative attrition at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months for each Service remained relatively constant. The largest attrition rates for the Services occurred within the first 6 months. As noted below, there are some differences by Service in the proportion of total attrition that occurred by 12 months. Finally, beginning about 1990, the proportion of cumulative attrition occurring by 12 months increased across the Services except for the Marine Corps. (This could be partially explained by differing Service policies during the drawdown, some having very liberal discharge policies in order to reduce their numbers.) It can further be seen from Table 2-7 that there are some differences in attrition patterns among the Services. The Services met their aggregate and separate service recruitment goals for the year 2001. Nonetheless, the DoD’s April Readiness Report (Grossman, 2001:S1) indicated that the Navy and the Air Force experienced some difficulty in meeting recruitment targets for specific military occupation specialties. Thus, the immediate recruitment and retention challenge for the Services may no longer be meeting end strength goals but manning selected career areas to ensure that shortfalls in critical areas do not compromise unit readiness. The Readiness Report (Grossman, 2001:S1) noted several enlisted retention challenges by Service. For example, the Army needed soldiers with skills in specialized languages, signal communications, information technology, and weapon systems maintenance. The Navy needed some enlisted personnel with high-tech ratings. The Marines needed technical specialists, such as intelligence, data communications experts, and air command and control technicians. The Air Force needed air traffic controllers and communications/computer system controllers with 8 to 10 years of military service. As the military’s warrior mission evolves into an efficient, effective, technologically sophisticated, fast-strike force, its susceptibility to paralysis for lack of capacity to man critical occupational specialties becomes increasingly apparent. Power outages for human resource reasons are no
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment TABLE 2-7 Service Attrition at 6, 12, 24, and 36 Months, 1985–1999 Enlisted during FY 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Army Percentage lost at 6 months 10 10 9 10 10 11 13 13 15 16 15 15 12 18 16 Percentage lost at 12 months 14 14 13 14 14 14 17 17 19 20 19 20 16 22 20 Percentage lost at 24 months 23 23 22 22 23 24 26 25 28 28 28 26 25 30 — Percentage lost at 36 months 29 29 29 29 31 32 33 32 35 36 33 33 32 — — Navy Percentage lost at 6 months 11 13 13 14 13 10 10 13 16 16 16 14 16 15 17 Percentage lost at 12 months 15 18 17 19 18 15 14 17 20 21 21 21 22 20 22 Percentage lost at 24 months 23 26 25 26 25 23 23 25 28 29 30 29 29 28 — Percentage lost at 36 months 29 32 30 30 31 30 28 30 33 35 36 34 34 — — Air Force Percentage lost at 6 months 9 11 10 9 9 10 11 9 12 12 13 12 13 12 12 Percentage lost at 12 months 12 13 12 11 12 12 13 12 14 14 16 15 15 14 15 Percentage lost at 24 months 17 18 17 16 17 19 20 18 20 20 22 21 21 20 — Percentage lost at 36 months 22 22 22 20 22 25 25 23 26 26 27 26 25 — — Marine Corps Percentage lost at 6 months 14 16 13 13 14 16 14 13 14 13 15 13 15 16 13 Percentage lost at 12 months 18 20 17 16 18 20 19 17 18 18 19 17 19 19 17 Percentage lost at 24 months 25 26 24 22 23 26 25 23 24 24 25 23 25 24 — Percentage lost at 36 months 32 34 31 28 29 33 31 29 29 30 31 28 29 — — SOURCE: Correspondence from Vice Admiral P.A. Tracey, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, DC (2001).
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment less crippling than those caused by defects in material and machines. Lest the lesson be lost: the Apache helicopters grounded in Bosnia for lack of experienced pilots portend an increasingly critical dimension to the military recruitment/retention challenge. Why Members of the Enlisted Force Leave the Service Although there are indications that the Services may currently be experiencing a welcomed resurgence in retention and recruitment rates, in recent years the military has had difficulty meeting its retention goals. This section examines the reasons for attrition and voluntary losses—why military members leave the Services—from several perspectives. With strong caveats about the quality of the available data, we examine the Service reports on the reasons personnel leave the military as indicated by broad separation codes. We also peruse Service career intention surveys, which monitor the attitudes and plans of troops under contract, and we review exit interviews with personnel separating from service for the years 1999, 2000, and 2001. First-Term The Services employ eight broad separation codes as reasons personnel leave the military: Behavior Failure to meet performance standards, misconduct, in lieu of trial by courts martial, drug/alcohol rehabilitation failure, etc. Medical Disability/injury, failed medical physical procurement standards, etc. Hardship Hardship, parenthood, custody Other Personality disorder, conscientious objector, fraudulent enlistment, defective enlistment agreement, insufficient retainability, military security program, etc. Homosexual As stated Weight Weight control failure Unknown As stated Pregnancy As stated Note that each Service can interpret these codes somewhat differently, which may contribute to some of the differences. Table 2-8 reports percentages of first-term attrition for men and women by service over the years 1993–1995. Overwhelmingly, men tend to leave the Services for behavior reasons defined as “failure to meet
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment TABLE 2-8 Reasons for First Term Attritions, Men and Women by Service, 1993–1995 (percentage) Army Navy Marine Air Force Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Behavior 82 48 42 11 60 34 47 21 Medical 12 17 10 16 15 18 15 22 Hardship 0 7 0 4 0 8 3 3 Other 2 2 48 44 21 6 23 24 Homosexual 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 Weight 2 1 0 0 5 4 1 1 Unknown 2 0 0 0 0 0 10 10 Pregnancy 0 25 0 24 0 31 0 17 SOURCE: Correspondence from Vice Admiral P.A. Tracey, U. S. Department of Defense, Washington, DC (2000). performance standards, misconduct, in lieu of trial by courts martial, drugs/alcohol rehab failure, etc.” Attrition for behavior reasons is highest in the Army, 82 percent. The rate for the Marines is 60 percent, followed by the Air Force at 47 percent. The reason for most separations in the Navy is “other,” defined as “personality disorder, conscientious objector, fraudulent enlistment, defective enlistment agreement, insufficient retainability, military security program, etc.” “Other” is the second-highest percentage reason that men separate from the Marines and the Air Force, which report rates of 21 and 23 percent, respectively. The second-highest rate for separation from the Navy is behavior, 42 percent. Medical reasons are the third-highest percentage reason. Percentages for other reasons for separation vary from 10 to 15 percent across the Services. Except for “unknown” reasons reported in the Air Force (10 percent), no other reason accounts for more than 5 percent of men’s separations. Attrition rates for women are more varied. Most women who leave the Army do so for behavior reasons, as do their male colleagues, although the percentage is sharply lower for women, 48 compared with 82 percent. The same pattern holds for women who leave the Marines. Most separate for behavior reasons, although the percentage is sharply lower than it is for men, 34 compared with 60 percent. Women who leave the Navy do so primarily for “other” reasons. Women who separate from the Air Force do so for the most varied reasons. One of four women who leave the Army and the Navy leave for pregnancy, as do nearly one of
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment three who leave the Marines. In summary, men tend to leave the military for behavior reasons, followed by “other” and medical reasons. Women also leave for behavior reasons, but the pattern of separations for women is more varied, less concentrated on behavior, and includes pregnancy. Separation After the First Term Each of the Services conducts career intention or exit surveys, which they use to monitor the career intent of troops under contract. These include Army: Sample Survey of Military Personnel (SSMP); Navy: Quality of Life Domain Survey (NQLDS); Air Force: Air Force New Directions Survey; Marine Corps: Marine Corps Retention Survey and Marine Corps Exit Survey. Data on intentions and attitudes toward the Service can be extremely useful in identifying broad domains of factors that enlistees report as influencing either their career intentions or their decision to leave. Classes of variables examined in one or another survey include the attitudes of spouses and families toward staying in the Service, satisfaction with job characteristics, compensation, the availability of civilian jobs, promotion opportunities, pride in the Service, time away from home, and other quality-of-life issues. However, the data currently collected from these surveys cannot support any strong general conclusions regarding which factors have the largest effect on intentions or on decisions, due to the low response rates and differing data-gathering strategies across the Services. Our review of the survey documentation led the committee to a number of observations: Better data are needed to understand why some individuals choose to separate from the Services, while others reenlist; the quality of the Service retention and exit surveys is suspect; and technical characteristics of the data are often not reported. Furthermore, the surveys tend to focus on interviewing large numbers of respondents rather than selecting smaller representative samples. Due to low response rates, the data that are collected may not adequately represent the attitudes of those reaching the end of a particular enlistment term, and inappropriate conclusions may be drawn. In addition, tests for bias, reliability, and validity are not used, and analyses are typically limited to reporting simple percentages. While in our view a systematic approach to investigating retention would be very valuable to the Services, a detailed consideration of this topic is beyond the scope of this study.
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment Hidden Costs of Attrition In addition to the immediate pressures that unacceptable attrition contributes to recruitment goals, there are hidden costs. Four are particularly noteworthy. The first is that attrition in labor-intensive industries including the military is expensive. High attrition costs the taxpayer and requires reallocation of scarce resources within the Services. Two studies provide rough estimates of the costs per attrition. Bowman (2001) reports that for each soldier who leaves, the Army has to spend $31,000 to train a new one. In addition, in 1996 the General Accounting Office reported that the investment in each enlistee separating in the first 6 months was $23,000 per enlistee (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997). A second hidden cost issues from the need to build unit cohesion within the military, to ensure such intangibles as collective memory and a shared culture that enhances unit performance. The carriers and articulators of unit cultures are those retained in active service and, for that reason, too, maintaining a critical mass of active-duty troops is a necessity. Another impact is closely related. Attrition rates may be interpreted as an unobtrusive measure of quality of life in the military, which is affected by long-standing personnel policies. The litany of service personnel grievances includes low pay; decaying infrastructure, including poor housing and dated base facilities; outdated pension and retirement policies; family-unfriendly relocation policies and inadequate health care services; and such unglamorous workplace deficits as deficient spare parts inventories (Dao, 2001). To the extent that these affect morale and esprit de corps, personnel efficiencies and effectiveness suffer. Unacceptable attrition rates also affect the care and nurturance of the national recruitment environment. Recruits on delayed entry status, trainees, and soldiers return to civilian life with stories to tell, be they positive or negative. Experiences related by active personnel and personnel separating from service define the viability of military service for the nation’s youth. The expressed quality of the military experience articulated by those who have “been there, done that” frames the attractiveness and colors the perceptions of the military career option. The costs of attrition are broader and deeper than merely adding pressure to the military recruitment apparatus—the most significant being in the area of operational readiness. Because of the interrelated aspects of recruiting and retention, all efforts to more fully integrate them into complementary efforts through the planning and budgeting process could hold significant benefits.
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment SUMMARY We support the DoD efforts defined by the QDR to “institute programs to...encourage talent to enter and stay in the military and civilian service....The Department must forge a new compact with its warfighters and those who support them—one that honors their service, understands their needs, and encourages them to make national defense a lifelong career” (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:50). In spite of changing missions and requirements for the military, indications are that the size of the military will not increase significantly over the next 20 years. Although as priorities change, the force mix among military occupational specialties and among the active-duty, Reserve and National Guard structures will also change with increasing emphasis on the Reserves and the National Guard because of the newly emphasized responsibilities associated with homeland defense. The recruitment and retention of both the Reserve force and the National Guard must receive appropriate attention. Given current trends, it seems extremely doubtful that the force size will decrease, easing pressures on recruiting. In addition, physical and moral requirements for military service are unlikely to change over the next 20 years. The Services are currently accessing recruits who have sufficient aptitude and can be trained to perform military tasks adequately. Recruits satisfying current quality levels can be trained to meet future demands. There have been few major changes in the occupational distribution of first-term personnel in the past 10 years, but future military missions coupled with advances in technology are expected to require military personnel to make greater use of technology. Technological changes will make some jobs in the future easier and others more difficult, but overall minimum aptitude requirements are unlikely to change much over the next 20 years. Changes in national security strategy and national military strategy have the potential to influence the size and shape of the Services. The current administration’s emphasis on transformation, as well as recent new emphasis on homeland security, could also argue for changes in force size and shape, to include balancing the forces between active-duty, reserve, and National Guard forces. The QDR Report provides some of these decisions and also requires studies to provide the rationale for future decisions that could affect military force structure. In addition, changing technology can affect the numbers and types of people needed in the military of the future. It is the required military force structure and the difference between that and the current population less anticipated annual losses that deter-
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Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Aspirations of American Youth: Implications for Military Recruitment mine the numbers required to be recruited. Controlling losses can mitigate recruiting requirements to some extent. Assuming the validity and the urgency of attrition rates and retention expectations, the task at hand is to bring knowledge and information to bear that informs policies and practices designed to enhance retention and to expand the recruitment pool. In fact, the QDR specifically states, “DoD can no longer solely rely on such ‘lagging’ indicators as retention and recruiting rates to detect personnel problems; by the time those indicators highlight a problem, it is too late” (U.S. Department of Defense, 2001:59).
Representative terms from entire chapter: