Force Structure

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Ensuring that a modern military has the appropriate personnel and capabilities is the key goal of military force planning. RAND research on such topics as military wages, support for military families, troop diversity, and reenlistment rates ensures that U.S. and allied militaries are well aware of issues related to career field management and personnel retention and recruitment.

  • Service members from participating nations salute during the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2014, a multinational exercise designed to promote regional peace and security. It is co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by Mongolian Armed Forces, photo by Sgt. Edward Eagerton/U.S. Army

    Report

    Key U.S. Military, Diplomatic Strategies Are Necessary to Balance China's Growing Regional Strength

    Sep 2, 2014

    Developing a strategy for the United States to address China's growing military strength should not sacrifice future cooperation between the two nations. A U.S. policy could recognize China's expanding importance in the world and its legitimate interests, while also keeping U.S. commitments to allies and partners in the region.

  • army_teaches_seals

    Report

    Measuring and Retaining the U.S. Army's Deployment Experience

    Nov 18, 2014

    The Army has contributed the bulk of deployed U.S. troops since 9/11, and has accrued substantial deployment experience. How can the U.S. prevent experience from being lost as combat operations conclude, soldiers separate from service, and Regular Army endstrength is reduced?

Explore Military Force Planning

  • U.S. Army Specialist visits his former high school as part of the Army Special Recruiter Assistance Program

    Commentary

    Go Slow on Arming Recruiters

    Several important voices have argued for arming military recruiters in the wake of the recent shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Giving them a chance to fight back against an active shooter may be a sound proposition, but practicalities of military recruiting suggest a patient and thoughtful policy review.

    Jul 31, 2015

  • Report

    Reforming Military Retirement: Analysis in Support of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission

    Using the Dynamic Retention Model, this report evaluates the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission's proposed reforms to military compensation and retirement, especially their ability to sustain the current force size/shape.

    Jul 17, 2015

  • A U.S. Army sergeant assists Iraqi army soldiers as they practice Military Operations in Urban Terrain procedures at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq

    Commentary

    Training Foreign Military Forces: Quality vs Quantity

    The American model for large-scale development of partner nation armies is failing. The push for numbers and the attendant dilution of training is at odds with building a cohesive army with the will to stand and fight, predicated upon an unproven assumption that a “large footprint” is itself a decisive strategy.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets soldiers after delivering remarks on his Force of the Future initiative in Fort Drum, N.Y., March 30, 2015

    Commentary

    A 'Measured Approach' to Managing Military Officers

    Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's “Force of the Future” initiative may mean far-reaching changes in how military personnel are recruited, evaluated, assigned, promoted, retained, separated, and compensated. What is needed is a map that shows potential paths to reach the objectives.

    Jul 15, 2015

  • Report

    Understanding Low Survey Response Rates Among Young U.S. Military Personnel

    A review of major online U.S. military surveys found very low response rates among young enlisted members. The authors explore possible explanations, why such rates might not reflect bias, and what to do before investing to increase participation.

    Jul 9, 2015

  • A checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on March 10, 2012

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    If neither victory nor a political settlement are likely in the short term, and if complete withdrawal is unpalatable, then the United States must ensure that its support of Afghanistan remains politically sustainable.

    Jul 6, 2015

  • Platoon leaders and platoon sergeants marching during the Headhunter leadership challenge at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 15, 2014

    Commentary

    The Most Enduring Lesson: People

    Given the complex, technology-heavy, and conceptually-nuanced environment of today's military, the quality of military personnel is the dominant form of competitive advantage. All the services today place maintaining a high-quality force at the top of their list of priorities.

    Apr 10, 2015

  • Report

    RAND Arroyo Center Annual Report 2014

    This annual report describes RAND Arroyo Center's research activities in FY 2014, highlights areas of research focus, and summarizes noteworthy studies.

    Mar 31, 2015

  • Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani inspects the honour guard during a graduation ceremony at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 18, 2015

    Commentary

    Q&A: What to Expect from Ghani's U.S. Visit

    With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's first official visit to the United States set to begin Sunday, a trio of RAND researchers discuss what to expect after the president and his chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah, arrive in Washington.

    Mar 20, 2015

  • The U.S. Military Academy Class of 2011 at graduation

    Report

    Admissions Process at West Point Proves Effective at Predicting Student Outcomes

    Given the limited information that is known about high school graduates, the application scores used by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point do a good job of predicting graduation outcomes. Some scores are also significantly associated with higher probability of officer promotion.

    Mar 12, 2015

  • Report

    Predicting Active Duty Air Force Pilot Attrition Given an Anticipated Increase in Major Airline Pilot Hiring

    Predicts future pilot attrition given the estimated increase in major airline hiring and recommends several policies that the Air Force can implement to better weather an increase in attrition.

    Feb 25, 2015

  • A C-130H Hercules landing in its new home in Southwest Asia in September 2014

    Report

    The Role of the USAF in the Days After a Deal with Iran

    The U.S. will face a complex set of policy issues and trade-offs in the aftermath of a nuclear agreement with Iran. The U.S. Air Force should see itself as having a role in informing senior-level policy discussions as to how its military posture in the region could be designed in support of alternative U.S. policies toward Iran.

    Feb 2, 2015

  • Paratroopers perform an airborne training exercise

    Report

    Enhancing Army Airborne Forces

    U.S. Army airborne forces could play a pivotal role in key missions in the future, particularly against hybrid threats and in anti-access environments. However, they face serious threats that could become more severe. To overcome these new threats, the airborne force will need new capabilities.

    Jan 23, 2015

  • U.S. sailors conduct maintenance on an F/A-18C Hornet on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson Jan. 4, 2015

    Commentary

    Advice for Defense Innovators

    Today's leaders should follow the example of their predecessors and closely evaluate a few well-defined scenarios, such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a Russian invasion of a NATO member state to determine the most serious gaps in U.S. and allied capabilities.

    Jan 12, 2015

  • Report

    Strength Testing in the Air Force: Current Processes and Suggestions for Improvements

    Examines the usefulness, validity, and fairness of the Air Force's Strength Aptitude Test, with a focus on its implementation at military entrance processing stations and the process for setting strength requirements for career fields.

    Dec 5, 2014

  • Report

    Options for Department of Defense Total Workforce Supply and Demand Analysis: Potential Approaches and Available Data Sources

    This report reviews approaches used in the private sector and government organizations to determine workforce supply and demand and describes data sources available to Department of Defense managers to support analysis from a total force perspective.

    Dec 3, 2014

  • Afghan National Army soldiers walk at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, February 24, 2014

    Commentary

    What's the Plan? The Afghan National Security Forces

    The Afghan National Security Forces remain very much a work in progress. In the coming months, the resiliency and cohesiveness of the ANSF will be put to the test as the NATO coalition transitions to a non-combat mission. Growing pains can be expected.

    Dec 2, 2014

  • Tool

    Diversity Outreach and Recruiting Event Site Selection (DORESS)

    Presents a user guide for Diversity Outreach and Recruiting Event Site Selection (DORESS), a piece of software created by RAND to assist the Air Force in identifying diversity outreach and recruiting event sites.

    Nov 20, 2014

  • Afghan security forces arrive at the site of a blast in Kabul November 18, 2014

    Commentary

    What's the Plan? The NATO Coalition in Afghanistan

    The imminent changes to the NATO mission in Afghanistan will be profound and, more crucially, carry unpredictable outcomes. After January 1, the removal of tens of thousands of coalition troops will trigger an inevitable period of adjustment as all sides involved in the conflict press for a new equilibrium that tilts in its favor.

    Nov 19, 2014

  • NAVY SEALS,Northern Warfare Training Center,Northen Edge 09

    Report

    Measuring and Retaining the U.S. Army's Deployment Experience

    The Army has contributed the bulk of deployed U.S. troops since 9/11, and has accrued substantial deployment experience. How can the U.S. prevent experience from being lost as combat operations conclude, soldiers separate from service, and Regular Army endstrength is reduced?

    Nov 18, 2014