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Personnel stability is highly valued by all military forces, particularly in combat units and other formations that deploy to a theater of operations. The U.S. Army in particular aims to maximize unit stability (that is, the degree to which a unit's membership remains constant over time). Yet, Reserve Component units typically experience a surge of personnel turbulence as they approach mobilization and deployment. Some members leave the unit, and new personnel are cross-leveled into the unit to reach its target for deploying strength. This inflow of personnel may undercut the effectiveness of training because new arrivals miss training events that have occurred before they join. As a result, units must repeat some training, making pre-mobilization preparation less efficient and potentially increasing the extent of training that must be accomplished after mobilization. How widespread is this problem, what causes it, and what might be done about it? RAND research was undertaken to address those questions, focusing on stability levels of personnel in deploying Reserve Component units, how long units are stabilized before deployment, the major factors that generate instability, the potential effect of instability on unit training, and policy options that could help manage the situation.

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 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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