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The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 forged a cultural revolution in the U.S. armed forces by improving the way in which the Department of Defense (DoD) prepares for and executes its mission, in part by addressing joint officer personnel policies and management requirements. In the past 15 years, successes in Iraq (Operations Desert Shield/Storm), Bosnia, and Afghanistan, and more recently in Operation Iraqi Freedom, testify to the effectiveness of the joint military force and its warfighting potential. However, recent studies and assessments have suggested that a strategic approach for joint officer management in terms of education, assignment, and promotion is necessary to address the challenges that DoD confronts in preparing officers to serve in joint organizations and leadership positions. This RAND research, sponsored by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), revisits Goldwater-Nichols and defines and frames a strategic approach to further officers’ development in joint matters.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Current and Future Joint Missions Require Experienced and Knowledgeable Joint Officers

  • Chapter Three

    Joint Duty Assignment List Management and Joint Officer Development

  • Chapter Four

    The Joint Officer Management System: The Need for a Strategic Approach

  • Chapter Five

    How to Implement a Strategic Approach for Joint Officer Management

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    A Primer to the Goldwater-Nichols Act

  • Appendix B

    Collecting Data on Joint Experience

  • Appendix C

    Data Requests to Determine Billets That Require Prerequisite Jointness and Billets That Provide Jointness

  • Appendix D

    Draft Memo of Instruction to Survey Points of Contact

  • Appendix E

    Survey Protocol

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted by 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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