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Research Questions

  1. How do institutional requirements affect space officers' operational development, career experience, and career paths?
  2. How do institutional requirements affect the Air Force's ability to fill core requirements in the space officer career field?

This report summarizes findings from modeling the effect of filling institutional requirement (IR) positions on a career field's health, given that filling IR positions draws labor away from core authorizations. The authors adapted RAND's Military Career Model, a detailed personnel simulation model, to evaluate the impact of changes to IRs on the space officer career field and study IRs' effect on a variety of career field metrics, including the ability to fill core requirements and IR positions simultaneously. The report also examines how changing the number of IRs affects the operational development, career experience diversity, and career paths of space officers. According to the model, the fill rates of most space jobs would not be affected by reductions in the total number of IRs allocated to the space career field. If fewer IRs were assigned to the career field, the biggest effect on fill rates would occur for jobs with slightly less priority than IR positions, particularly staff jobs at the O-4 grade. IR effects on space officers' careers do exist, but they could be lessened by careful job selection and position prioritization.

Key Findings

  • The fill rates of most space jobs would not be affected by reductions in the total number of institutional requirements (IRs) allocated to the space career field. If fewer IRs were assigned to the career field, the biggest effect on fill rates would occur for jobs with slightly less priority than IR positions, particularly staff jobs at the O-4 grade.
  • Being assigned to an IR position has the potential for both positive and negative effects on officer development and career progression. Negative IR effects on space officers' careers do exist, but they could be lessened by careful job selection and position prioritization.

Recommendations

  • Increase the fidelity of priorities for space jobs and ensure space officer assignments are made based on these priorities. Our analysis of the impacts of IRs at the career field and individual level revealed the importance of prioritizing jobs. Top-to-bottom career field visibility of job priorities — from space senior leaders to the space assignment team — will also help ensure that all high-priority positions are filled.
  • Carefully select IR jobs for space officers. The space officer assignment team should seek IR positions that provide officers with experiences and competencies to enhance and complement their space expertise.
  • Continue to maintain and possibly expand the use and management of the space experience code (SPEC). Without this code, which categorizes positions into subcategories in the space officer career field, identifying and analyzing positions below the Air Force Specialty Code level is difficult. Air Force Space Command should consider extending the use of the SPEC from labeling personnel with particular experiences to labeling each space authorization for future job-level analyses.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Calibrating the Military Career Model

  • Chapter Three

    Results: Reducing the Number of IR Positions

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix

    Statistics on Jobs in Model

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the offices of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations and the Deputy Chief of Staff, Manpower, Personnel, and Services and conducted within the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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