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Research Questions

  1. What are existing policies and programs dedicated to preventing and responding to harmful behaviors, such as discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, hostile work environment, and self-directed harm and suicide?
  2. What best practices can USSPACECOM incorporate from research studies and other policies regarding these harmful behaviors?
  3. What do USSPACECOM personnel think are the challenges, barriers, responsibilities, and solutions regarding harmful behavior prevention and response?

U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) was reestablished as a combatant command (CCMD) in 2019 and has a diverse workforce of service members, civilian employees, and contractors. Its success will require a strategy to enhance and sustain the resilience of its personnel. In this report, the authors offer best practices for building workforce resilience by preventing and responding to four specific harmful individual behaviors that reduce organizational resilience: discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, hostile work environment, and self-directed harm and suicide.

The authors conducted a literature review using military and private-sector sources, and they hosted six workshops with USSPACECOM personnel to identify the challenges and barriers to resilience program implementation. Drawing on these findings, they propose four recommendations to address these challenges and barriers.

Key Findings

  • USSPACECOM is a reestablished CCMD with a growing workforce whose composition is diverse, having similar percentages of civilian employees, contractors, and service members from across the military services. To succeed, USSPACECOM will need a strategy to enhance and sustain the resilience of its personnel.
  • There are numerous U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and service-level policies and programs dedicated to preventing and responding to harmful behaviors, such as discrimination, sexual assault and harassment, hostile work environment, and self-directed harm and suicide. However, there are often different tracking mechanisms and resources for service members, civilian employees, and contractors.
  • In the literature review, common themes to preventing and responding to harmful behaviors were improving access to services and reporting channels, enhancing leadership communication and climate, targeting high-risk units, and engaging personnel through skills-focused training.
  • The workshop results showed that participants' concerns about resilience in USSPACECOM focused on personnel issues, cohesion within the command, and leadership. However, because USSPACECOM is a reestablished CCMD, there is a perception of disjointedness among levels of the organization and confusion about who is supposed to report to whom or from whom to seek support, both within and outside the command.

Recommendations

  • USSPACECOM should streamline, target, and formalize communications about various resilience-building efforts to different classes of personnel within this CCMD.
  • USSPACECOM's contracting officer should consider including language in professional service contracts to clarify what types of resiliency-related resources, team building, training, and professional recognition are available to civilian contractors.
  • USSPACECOM should continue to invest in developing a one-stop shop for strengthening resilience at USSPACECOM that connects service members, civil servants, and civilian contractors to all available resources across the entire DoD enterprise.
  • Personnel providing USSPACECOM's one-stop shop for resilience-building programs should develop interactive, engaging, and targeted training that meets the unique needs of its workforce.

This research was sponsored by U.S. Space Command and conducted within the Personnel, Readiness, and Health Program of the RAND National Security Research Division.

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.

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