Active and Reserve Force Attrition and Retention

A Selected Review of Research and Methods

by Zahava D. Doering, David W. Grissmer

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This paper reviews research on the dual issues of attrition (separation prior to the completion of agreed-upon terms of military service) and retention (individuals’ voluntary decisions to remain in the military for additional terms of service) for the U.S. Active and Reserve Forces. The study is limited to the enlisted force only. It describes the changing composition of U.S. Active and Reserve personnel, summarizes research and research methods used to study attrition and retention for both the Active and Reserve components, discusses different methodological issues, and notes the implications for future research in both the United States and NATO countries.

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