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The Department of Defense (DoD) wants to create a more strategic, modern, and flexible officer personnel system. At present, most military officers are subject to a policy commonly known as “up-or-out,” which requires separation from service if an officer is not promoted within a certain period of time (or selectively continued) or when an officer reaches established grade tenure limits. The RAND Corporation was asked to outline alternatives to up-or-out that might be tested via demonstration projects, to suggest how such tests might be evaluated, and to work with the military services to identify possible communities for the tests. RAND researchers propose four demonstration projects, one for each service, that represent various alternatives to up-or-out that could meet the needs of the identified communities to retain highly valued officers longer, provide additional training and education, and increase geographical stability for individuals. The common theme in the proposed demonstration projects is to replace “promotability” with “employability” as the basis for continuation of participating officers. RAND researchers also identify methodologies for measuring the implementation and outcomes of the demonstration projects, and they discuss the different means of obtaining legal authority to conduct demonstration projects to test career management alternatives for military officers.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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