Cover: America Goes to War

America Goes to War

Managing the Force During Times of Stress and Uncertainty

Published Mar 20, 2007

by Bernard D. Rostker


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For more than three decades, the United States has relied on an all-volunteer force to meet its military needs. Today, the sustainability of that force is being tested with high levels of deployment and subsequent “stress.” Such an environment raises the issue of how the Department of Defense can continue to manage its personnel. This report looks at the history of conscription versus volunteerism (particularly in Great Britain, France, and Prussia) to understand when and under what conditions conscription has been used effectively to raise the manpower needed. Specifically, what actions could the U.S. Army take to increase the supply of volunteers or reduce the demand for new personnel? The report also focuses on the many programs that have been developed to help military members and their families cope during difficult times, as well as the particular challenges of understanding which programs work.

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 sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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