Air Force Enlisted Force Management: System Interactions and Synchronization Strategies
Jun 9, 2007
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In September 2004, the active-duty enlisted component of the United States Air Force comprised about 298,000 airmen. These airmen, spanning nine grades, performed duties in about 200 specialties. Dedicated enlisted strength managers have never matched the inventory of people to manpower requirements for personnel in all grades and specialties. This is partly because the Air Force uses three major independently managed systems to determine strength by specialty and grade: the manpower system, the strength management system, and the enlisted promotion system. As a result, policies and procedures occasionally work at cross-purposes.
For example, the promotion system policy of equal selection opportunity (ESO), which calls for the total promotions from a grade to be distributed to each specialty in proportion to the number of eligible members in that specialty, runs counter to the goal of satisfying authorizations for enlisted personnel by grade. This is because authorizations are not proportionally distributed by specialty and grade. Having met the manpower requirement for a given grade and specialty, strength managers are usually forced to retrain people to move into or out of a field, or to offer selective reenlistment bonuses to meet the manpower target at the next-higher grade in that specialty.
Research by RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) is helping the Air Force better align its enlisted force management systems. While researchers do not suggest that the Air Force modify ESO, they do suggest the following near-term and long-term steps to improve the overall system:
In the near term, the Air Force should take the following steps:
In the long term, the Air Force should take the following steps:
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