Educational Benefits and Officer-Commissioning Opportunities Available to U.S. Military Servicemembers

by Michael R. Thirtle

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This work provides background and contextual information for a comprehensive report that will explore ways to attract college-eligible youth into the military. It describes the various benefits, opportunities, and commissioning methods that the military services use. It suggests that the different services have unique strategies for accessing both officers and enlisted personnel, as follows: Of the three primary sources of officer commissioning — the federal service academies, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and Officer Training/Candidate School (OCS) — the Marine Corps relies most heavily upon OCS, and the Air Force, Army, and Navy draw upon ROTC for most of their officers. Direct appointment is also an avenue. Each service offers different types of monetary incentives Enlisted personnel have several ways of earning officer commissions, but the number of slots for these programs is limited Many opportunities exist for active-duty military personnel to further their civilian education, and all services use some form of tuition assistance and competitive, special programs. The importance of advanced education in the military promotion process is not transparent. The enlisted-promotion process awards a small number of points for higher education, but job performance, time-in-grade, and technical skills appear to be the main criteria for advancement. The role of advanced education within the officer-promotion process is also unclear, although most officers who proceed beyond O-3 have a master's degree.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Contextual Information

  • Chapter Three

    Commissioned Officers

  • Chapter Four

    Methods and Financing of Voluntary Post-Secondary Education

  • Chapter Five

    The Role of Education in the Military Promotion Process

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions

  • Appendix

    A Brief Description of the U.S. Millitary

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

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