John D. Winkler

Photo of John Winkler
Director, Forces and Resources Policy Center; Senior Behavioral Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in social psychology, Harvard University; B.A. in psychology, University of Pennsylvania

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John D. Winkler is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and director of the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division. The Center's mission is to improve policy and decisionmaking governing personnel management and use of defense resources to enhance readiness and sustain a vibrant all-volunteer force. His areas of expertise include defense manpower and personnel policy, individual and family readiness, military education and training, and reserve component issues. Winkler joined RAND in 1980 where he served until 2001 and held a range of corporate and leadership positions, developing and supervising studies and analyses which addressed a range of issues related to defense manpower, training, and reserve affairs. 

In 2001, Winkler entered public service in the U.S. Department of Defense. From 2001 to 2007, he was deputy assistant secretary of defense for manpower and personnel, responsible for National Guard and Reserve manpower and personnel matters (e.g., manpower requirements and utilization; recruitment, attrition, and compensation; individual and family support; medical programs; personnel data systems; and legislation). He led the Reserve Component portion of the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, spearheaded policy and legislative initiatives to streamline reserve component personnel management, and developed Department of Defense policy documents governing use of military forces and the management of the Reserve Components as an operational force. He served as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs from 2007 to 2009. He is a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Winkler received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University.

Previous Positions

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Manpower and Personnel, U.S. Department of Defense; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense

Recent Projects

  • Strengthening Incentives for Active and Reserve Cross-Component Integration
  • Reserve Component Duty Status Reform
  • Assessing Options for CONUS Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS)
  • Supporting Employers in the Reserve Operational Forces Era
  • Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: An Update of RAND's 1993 Study

Selected Publications

Agnes Gereben Schaefer, John D. Winkler, Kimberly Jackson, Daniel Ibarra, Darrell Jones, Geoffrey McGovern, Approaches for Strengthening Total Force Culture and Facilitating Cross-Component Integration in the U.S. Military, RAND (RR-2143-OSD), 2020 (forthcoming)

John D. Winkler, Timothy Marler, Marek N. Posard, Raphael Cohen, Meagan L. Smith, Reflections on the Future of Warfare and Implications for Personnel Policies of the U.S. Department of Defense, RAND (PE-324-OSD), 2020

Beth J. Asch and John D. Winkler, Ensuring Language Capability in the Intelligence Community: What is the Best Mix of Military, Civilians, and Contractors?RAND (TR-1284), 2013

Susan M. Gates, Geoffrey McGovern, Ivan Waggoner, John D. Winkler, Ashley Pierson, Lauren Andrews, Peter Buryk, Supporting Employers in the Reserve Operational Forces Era: Are Changes Needed to Reservists' Employment Rights Legislation?RAND (RR-152), 2011

John D. Winkler, "Developing an Operational Reserve: A Policy and Historical Context and the Way Forward," Joint Forces Quarterly, 59((4)), 2010

Jennifer C. Buck, Thomas L. Bush, Barbara A. Bicksler, Karen L. McKenney, John D. Winkler "The New Guard and Reserve," in John D. Winkler and Barbara Bicksler (Eds.), The New Guard and Reserve, Falcon Books, 2010

Bernard D. Rostker, Susan Hosek, and John D. Winkler (Study Co-Directors), Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: An Update of RAND's 1993 Study, RAND (MG-1056-OSD), 2010

John D. Winkler, R. Wayne Spruell, Thomas L. Bush, and Gary L. Crone "A "Continuum of Service" for the All-Volunteer Force," in Barbara A. Bicksler, Curtis L. Gilroy, and John T. Warner (Eds.), The All Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service, Brassey's Inc., 2004

Honors & Awards

  • RAND President's Choice Award 2011, RAND Corporation
  • Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service., U.S. Department of Defense


  • First Sgt. Raquel Steckman, with the 374th Engineer Company (Sapper), headquartered in Concord, California, jokes with her Soldiers before the start of formation.

    Military Power Is All About People: A Return to Personnel Policy

    Ensuring the strength of U.S. armed forces is critical to U.S. national security and the key source of strength is its people. True investment in personnel is a long-term legacy and an investment worthy of attention and policy debate to ensure the United States continues to recruit and retain the most effective fighting force in the world.

    Jul 27, 2017 War on the Rocks