Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Research Questions

  1. What are the responsibilities of and training requirements for CEAs?
  2. What percentage of CEAs receive S&I pays, and what are the average amounts of these pays?
  3. Is there a model that would estimate CEA retention?

This report provides the foundation for developing an analytic capability for determining the efficient amount of special and incentive (S&I) pay for U.S. Air Force career enlisted aviators (CEAs). The authors documented contextual information about CEAs, examined the retention profiles of CEAs and S&I pays available, and extended RAND's Dynamic Retention Model to create a version that models CEA retention profiles.

Background analysis reveals that the career trajectories and retention profiles of certain CEAs vary across the different Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs). These differences in retention and compensation suggest that different retention models are needed for certain subgroups of CEAs.

The authors extended RAND's Dynamic Retention Model to model retention profiles of In-Flight Refueling, Aircraft Loadmasters, and Airborne Mission Systems Operators, three CEA categories that share similar retention profiles and make up more than half of the CEA population among the cohorts included in this study. To demonstrate how this type of model can be used to model retention behavior in response to changes in compensation, the authors conducted a simulation in which basic pay increased by 5 percent. Future work will further extend the retention models to include other CEA AFSCs and S&I pays, and these will then be used to conduct simulations to estimate the efficient amount of S&I pays for Air Force CEAs.

Key Findings

Different retention models are needed for certain subgroups of CEAs

  • Background analysis reveals that the career trajectories and retention profiles of certain CEAs vary across the different AFSCs.

Retention models can be created using specific data

  • The types of S&I pays currently and historically available to each CEA AFSC, and the frequency and average amounts of the subset of S&I pays observable in the data, can be analyzed to determine which S&I pays may factor into the retention decisions of CEAs.
  • RAND's Dynamic Retention Model can be adapted to model the retention profile of CEAs and used to simulate different compensation regimes.


  • Continue research to extend the work documented in this report to develop an analytic capability to model the efficient amount of S&I pays among CEAs.
  • Develop retention models for the CEAs currently excluded from the general CEA model described in this report.
  • Expand the models to include S&I pays that are most relevant for each CEA.
  • Conduct simulations to determine the efficient amount of S&I pays for CEAs given a set budget constraint and target force size.

Research conducted by

The research reported here was commissioned by AF/A1P and conducted by the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.