Cover: Air Force Manpower Requirements and Component Mix

Air Force Manpower Requirements and Component Mix

A Focus on Agile Combat Support

Published Sep 10, 2014

by Albert A. Robbert, Lisa M. Harrington, Tara L. Terry, H. G. Massey


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Research Questions

  1. Are quantitatively oriented manpower requirements processes validated, coordinated, and consistent?
  2. Is there a common-sight picture of wartime demands available?
  3. Are the current qualitative personnel requirements adequate?

Processes for determining U.S. Air Force manpower requirements vary considerably across and within the variety of workforces employed to meet Air Force missions, including active duty military personnel, full-time and part-time Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors. Distinctive processes have been developed for quantifying needs for operational, maintenance, and non-maintenance agile combat support workforces. The primary focus of this report is on those quantitatively oriented manpower requirements processes and the extent to which they are validated, coordinated, and consistent. Since some requirements are based on wartime or deployment needs rather than peacetime or garrison needs, the report seeks to determine if a common-sight picture of wartime demands is available. It also explores the qualitative side of personnel requirements. The resources of the Air Force's manpower requirements squadrons and flights appear to be inadequate to their task, as evidenced by both the limited coverage of requirements by standard processes and the age distribution of current manpower standards. Another area of concern is the separation of manpower standards by component, leading to inefficiencies. Also, restrictions on the duties of reserve component personnel tend to mandate more training than is needed and invite circumventions to allow greater participation by reservists in active missions. In addition, the linkage between individual mobilization augmentee authorizations and wartime requirements is tenuous. Finally, looking at qualitative requirements, there appears to be a need for additional attention to officer education prerequisites.

Key Findings

Quantitative Manpower Requirements Processes Could Be Made More Consistent and Efficient

  • Some manpower standards are old enough to raise questions regarding their continued validity.
  • Some manpower standards are old enough to raise questions regarding their continued validity. The separation of manpower standards by component can cause inefficiency, especially when active component (AC) and reserve component (RC) units are located on the same installation, and even more so when they are associated organizationally in an equipment-sharing arrangement.
  • Traditional reservist requirements in most agile combat support functions appear to be in excess of need.
  • The manpower cost on the RC side is higher than necessary due to restrictions on the duties of RC personnel paid from Reserve Personnel Appropriation funding.
  • Each individual mobilization augmentee (IMA) position is individually justified through a process that provides no linkages to unit type codes (UTCs), and the distribution of IMA requirements across officer/enlisted and career-field categories bears no discernible relationship to historic wartime deployment demands.

Wartime Requirements Planning for Agile Combat Support Lacks Rigor

  • The lack of a standard Air Force process for determining wartime requirements compels career field managers to make independent assessments of those requirements, which are often inconsistent.
  • There is little or no coordination between AC and RC functional area managers regarding the resourcing of wartime UTC requirements.

Qualitative Personnel Requirements Could Also Be Improved

  • Among qualitative requirements, including advanced education, language, special experience, and security clearance, there is additional need for attention to officer education prerequisites.


  • Improve existing requirements processes.
  • Refine wartime requirements policies and practices.
  • Provide greater flexibility in using RC resources.
  • Adopt a practical approach to integrating requirements across workforces.
  • Closely examine individual mobilization augmentee requirements.
  • Improve the specification of officer education requirements.

Research conducted by

The research reported here was commissioned by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services, United States Air Force, and conducted within the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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