Corps and Division Command Staff Turnover in the 1980s

by James P. Kahan

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This Note presents the results of a survey of all active component U.S. Army corps and division headquarters requesting the names and times of service of their commanders, deputy commanders, chiefs of staff, and assistant chiefs of staff during the 1980s. It examines command staff turnover with respect to two contrasting models of team composition. The first model, a "unit team" one, assumes that a team is constructed from scratch and stays together over a period of time. The second model, a "steady state" one, assumes that the staff is a continuous social entity that people enter and leave at regular intervals. Analysis of turbulence data showed that the steady-state model is far more descriptive of current corps and division staffs than the unit composition model. The findings suggest that (1) team-building training should emphasize the rapid socialization of new staff members as a constant task for a unit, and (2) exercises should be designed to test and reinforce the mutual understanding among staff members as well as the performance of standard operating procedures. The Army may wish to consider whether it should implement a division and corps command staff assignment procedure that would result in more stable, cohesive teams.

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