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Research Questions

  1. How can friction between the Army's People First objectives (which focus on command climate, cohesive teams, career goals, and work-life balance) and ReARMM objectives (which focus on mission readiness) be mitigated?
  2. What aspects of this friction are systemic and related to Army processes?
  3. What aspects of this friction are related to culture, communications, and soldiers' behavior?

The authors examined the friction between the U.S. Army's People First objectives (which focus on command climate, cohesive teams, career goals, and work-life balance) and Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model (ReARMM) objectives (which focus on mission readiness) and developed strategies to mitigate this friction. The research methods included a policy review, interviews at the policy and unit levels, a scenario-based role-playing workshop with Army field-grade officers, an examination of Army personnel data in conjunction with ReARMM cycle calendars, and a review of literature on expectation management.

The authors found, unexpectedly, that the Army's primary source of friction involves inconsistent communications about priorities―the Army's senior leaders clearly communicate their priorities, but at unit levels (division and below), those priorities are blurred, minimized, or absent. The Army's modernization and personnel systems do not have much freedom or incentive to adjust their processes in ways that will materially affect friction. The Army's incentives are also not aligned with its priorities: At the unit level, soldiers perceive that incentives are based on training outcomes and that there is little recognition or reward for People First outcomes.

The authors recommend that the Army establish clear, consistent prioritization guidance that includes monitoring by higher headquarters to ensure that lower-level headquarters have not allowed priorities to be diluted; establish indicators to measure progress toward People First objectives and incorporate those indicators into evaluation mechanisms of unit leaders; and manage a few key positions (e.g., supply personnel during modernization) in ways that can mitigate critical friction points.

Key Findings

  • A lack of consistent guidance leaves room for various interpretations of what to prioritize.
  • There is a lack of compelling incentives to implement People First goals.
  • Systemic challenges create friction points between ReARMM and People First goals.
  • Training and execution within the Army's training management system may need updates and improvements.
  • ReARMM is a standardized concept, while unit requirements vary.
  • Soldiers rely on other soldiers first and big Army last when faced with work-life balance challenges.
  • ReARMM is too new (circa fiscal year 2020) to do a longitudinal analysis on its effect on People First initiatives.
  • While friction is clearly happening, it is possible that the level of incidents (as suggested by the quantitative data) may be less than commonly believed or may be limited to certain units.

Recommendations

  • Establish clear, consistent prioritization guidance; this includes monitoring by higher headquarters to ensure that lower-level headquarters have not allowed priorities to be diluted.
  • Establish indicators to measure progress toward People First and incorporate them into evaluation mechanisms of unit leaders.
  • Continue to leverage personnel data to help quantify and manage friction for units beyond U.S. Army Forces Command brigade combat teams.
  • Continue to conduct these types of analyses as ReARMM implementation becomes more mature.
  • Explore and balance both the aggregate trends and the stress points for outliers when considering friction points and policy alternatives.
  • Manage select duty positions differently. Identify a few key positions (e.g., supply personnel during modernization), and manage them in ways that can mitigate critical friction points.
  • Consider improvements to training on how to conduct training management.
  • Evaluate training management timelines to improve flexibility at the unit level.
  • Monitor and observe new Army policies that adjust ReARMM policy for different brigade types.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the United States Army and conducted within RAND Arroyo Center’s Personnel, Training, and Health Program.

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