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Research Questions

  1. Who makes up the current "core" OCS planning and integration workforce, and what are their roles and responsibilities within military commands and elsewhere in the defense enterprise?
  2. What are the staffing needs for these positions, and where are there shortfalls?
  3. What are the training requirements of the core workforce and those who perform functions related to OCS planning and integration but whose positions do not fall into this category?

The United States relies on contractors to fill support roles in theaters of conflict to an extent that is unprecedented in modern history. Contractors provide supplies and perform a variety of other functions, including security (personal security details, convoy security, and static site security), logistical support, weapon and equipment upkeep and maintenance, intelligence, communication, transportation, construction, engineering, and base support operations and maintenance. It is important to ensure that these operational contract support (OCS) capabilities are available when needed for operations, but U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) oversight and planning for OCS activities is decentralized, making it difficult to determine manpower and training requirements for these DoD activities. This comprehensive review of the DoD OCS planning and integration workforce shows that some doctrinally mandated OCS planning and integration tasks are not being performed by DoD personnel, that personnel across the force receive limited training in OCS, and that there are several human capital approaches to address these shortfalls. Staffing estimates, findings, and recommendations were informed by an exhaustive review of OCS-related policy, doctrine, and training materials, as well as survey responses and interviews with experts. The result is a clearer picture of staffing requirements for the OCS planning and integration workforce and gaps in awareness, training, and career path options.

Key Findings

Some Doctrinally Mandated OCS Planning and Integration Tasks Are Not Being Performed

  • Most tasks are being performed in practice, but gaps remain — and some are significant.
  • Reasons for these gaps could include staffing shortfalls, a lack of knowledge about OCS and low priority given to these responsibilities in the overall force, or a lack of training in the skills necessary to perform these tasks.

There Are Shortfalls in OCS-Related Training Across the Force

  • Despite a clear need for training, very few professional military education courses provide instruction on any element of OCS.
  • Resource constraints hinder efforts to expand training opportunities, but two models may be feasible: offering a basic level of instruction at initial entry to the military, with more advanced concepts addressed as personnel progress through their careers, and an expeditionary training model in which mobile teams conduct train-the-trainer sessions.

Several Human Capital Strategies Could Strengthen the OCS Planning and Integration Workforce

  • Flexible staffing solutions that allow defense organizations to meet their OCS planning and integration responsibilities with dedicated or generalist OCS personnel would provide more options when resources are limited or when skill set and task needs vary.


  • DoD should establish, resource, and staff a dedicated OCS planning and integration workforce with competencies in management, planning, analysis, training, knowledge management, and policy development.
  • DoD should increase the number of personnel with the requisite expertise to perform OCS planning and integration tasks during peacetime and contingency operations, ensuring that manpower needs are met in accordance with doctrine.
  • DoD should take steps to institutionalize, broaden, and systematize training across the defense enterprise while maintaining or expanding current training opportunities in OCS planning and integration.
  • DoD should work with commands and other organizations that house OCS planning and integration personnel to ensure that these personnel are adequately integrated, and it should consider implementing a range of options to improve tracking, training, and retention of the workforce.

This research was sponsored by the Operational Contract Support and Services Division of the Joint Staff (J4) and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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