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Congress has recently expressed concern that the current tenure system for developing general and flag officers does not effectively prepare them for handling increasing levels of responsibility and for performing with maximum efficiency at each level of assignment. This report assesses the continued appropriateness of mandatory retirement of general and flag officers after35 years. It focuses on the value of extending tenure, specifically examining promotions, number of assignment, and career length. The study discusses two types of consequences resulting from such an extension. Systemic results of longer service lead to fewer promotions and fewer rising to the highest grades, but increased stability and experience. Career-path consequences indicate more depth or breadth of experience could result for officers. The appropriateness of continued mandatory retirement after 35years depends, finally, on objectives. If the objective is rapid career-path movement to positions of responsibility, the 35-year limit accomplishes this. If the goal is more experienced officers and greater stability, removing the limit seems best. Decision makers will need to decide which objective is most important.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Requested Data

  • Chapter Three

    Certain Consequences of Additional Service

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Legislation Pertaining to General or Flag Officer Tenure

  • Appendix B

    Service Data

  • Appendix C

    Discussion of Manpower Models

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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