Assessing the Association Between Airmen Participation in Force Support Squadron Programs and Unit Cohesion
May 20, 2022
The UNITE Initiative aims to promote readiness and resilience in the Air Force through events that focus on unit cohesion. The authors describe the results of their evaluation of UNITE and the program's association with unit cohesion, drawing on interviews with UNITE representatives and post-event surveys completed by airmen participants.
An Evaluation of the UNITE Initiative
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In 2016, the Air Force began an effort to revitalize squadrons, aimed at promoting the readiness and resilience of the force. In light of this effort, the Air Force Services Center established the UNITE Initiative and hired Community Cohesion Coordinators (C3s) across participating installations to plan programs, activities, and events that directly support unit cohesion, leveraging Force Support Squadron activities along with resources and activities in the local community.
Previous research suggests that providing units with opportunities to participate in group activities could serve to improve cohesion. However, the Air Force lacks data that demonstrate a correlation between the use of these activities and expected outcomes. In this report, the authors examine this connection by conducting an initial evaluation of the UNITE Initiative. The authors accomplish this evaluation by conducting interviews with C3s and reviewing post-event feedback from C3s, units, and airmen participants to understand how the program was implemented and identify successes, limitations, and lessons learned. The authors also use two post-event surveys, completed by airmen roughly two and six weeks after participating in a UNITE event, to examine whether participation was associated with perceptions of unit cohesion.
Developing an Evidence-Informed Framework for UNITE
Process: How Is UNITE Implemented?
Outcome: What Does UNITE Do?
Summary and Policy Implications
Cohesion Literature Review Methods and Findings
Qualitative Evaluation Methods: Process Evaluation
Airman UNITE Survey Development and Administration
Quantitative Evaluation Methods: Outcome Evaluation
The research reported here was commissioned by Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services, Directorate of Services (AF/A1S) and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.
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