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The Department of Defense has suggested that “blending” active component and reserve component workforces in military units must be implemented more broadly to better capitalize on the capabilities and strengths of the reserve components, thus leading to a more flexible, capable force. RAND researchers examined existing organizational designs that facilitate integration of the reserve and active workforces to ascertain whether changed personnel management practices are needed to help implement those organizational designs. They reviewed service reports and directives and other relevant literature on the subject, including the organizational change literature, and interviewed service officials and subject matter experts. They conclude that workforce integration efforts aimed at improving operational accomplishment of mission, balancing operations tempo, and increasing capital asset utilization would be more successful than efforts aimed at other goals, such as resolving personnel management differences. The authors recommend that adapting what works within a service to other functional areas in the service is a better near-term workforce integration strategy than replicating forms of integration across services; that the services should provide policy guidance for workforce integration; and that the services should consider performing more evaluation of workforce integration against the goals they have set out for it.

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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