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Reserve components are increasingly being called upon to provide support across the entire spectrum of military operations and have been key to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, the issue of their readiness is critical for national military strategy. The authors examine reserve recruiting and the likely challenges facing the reserve components in the future. The authors make a methodological contribution by separately examining prior-service and non-prior-service recruits into the reserves, with the justification that the two types of recruits are typically at different stages of life and face different choices. With an emphasis on non-prior-service recruits, the authors estimate a model that incorporates the simultaneous decisions of recruits to join the reserves, active duty, or neither. The authors find that several policy, demographic, and economic factors had sizeable and significant effects on both active duty and reserve recruiting. States with educational incentives for National Guard members have higher numbers of both reserve and active duty recruits. In general, at lower levels of recruiter density, both active duty and reserve recruiting benefit from the addition of another recruiter, but as the number of recruiters rise, this benefit becomes successively smaller. In addition, higher unemployment rates boosted both reserve and active duty recruiting, and larger portions of minority populations (including black and Hispanic) are also strong predictors of recruiting success. The authors examined other variables, including state rates of college education, state tuition rates, varying characteristics of civilian employers, and demand of home and family activities on men’s time. The authors found that new approaches for models that estimate prior-service reserve recruiting need to be developed that do not rely so heavily on identifying a state for prior active duty members.

The research described in this report was prepared for 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.

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