Analyzes an experiment, begun in January 1979, to test the effectiveness of new enlistment incentives aimed primarily at high-quality males for hard-to-fill occupational specialties. The incentives included a two-year enlistment option, enhanced postservice educational benefits, and an "IRR option" permitting recruits to choose between reserve and active duty after completing initial training. The enlistment responses to the options were disappointing: none of the options elicited a sizable response. Only the IRR option showed promise as an incentive for combat arms enlistees. An examination of the policy issues associated with the incentives suggests that shorter-term enlistments and educational benefits may even be detrimental to the services in the long run because they lead to lower retention at the end of the first term of service.
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