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The U.S. military constantly evaluates its personnel system to find optimal ways to obtain the types of personnel to execute its missions most efficiently. Will it get better results if it expands its program to allow civilians with appropriate education and experience to enter the military laterally? This report looked specifically at the lateral entry of non-prior-service personnel into enlisted active-duty occupations. It reviewed existing programs, identified the potential goals of a lateral entry program, and presents an objective-based framework to link the goals with specific program features. Using this framework, the authors analyzed occupations in the Army, Air Force, and Navy and concluded that pursuing a policy of large-scale lateral entry did not show promise. They recommended further that the Army and Navy leave their current lateral entry programs intact for possible expansion, should future conditions warrant it.

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 Office of the Secretary of Defense, 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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