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Research Questions

  1. As the USSF combines regular and reserve units into a combined component, what options does it have for integrating single positions, groups of positions, and organizations from Air Force Reserve legacy space units?
  2. What are the characteristics for each option? What types of units or missions might best implement each option?
  3. Because USSF leadership preference is for illustrative descriptions, are there vignettes that help describe the potential implementation of the integration options?

The authors of this report describe models that the U.S. Space Force (USSF) can use to integrate reserve and regular units into a combined component in ways that allow for seamless permeability between full- and part-time service. Such integration will allow the USSF to create flexible scheduling opportunities that will enhance its ability to find, develop, and retain individuals with a diverse set of skills.

The authors describe four integration models that could be appropriate for USSF organizations, along with vignettes that illustrate how each model might be used in hypothetical situations faced by commanders and human resource managers.

This report was completed prior to passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which included the Space Force Personnel Management Act, approving implementation of a single service construct between the USSF and the Air Force Reserve personnel serving in space missions.

Key Findings

  • USSF organizations at all levels can employ staffing models that reflect a workforce with varying types of schedules to improve workforce management and accomplish mission requirements.
  • Models to integrate personnel working full-time and part-time at various rates of employment have successful analogs in industry and other military organizations.
  • There are at least four integration models that could be appropriate for USSF organizations: position-level integration, team-level integration, event-driven integration, and on-demand integration.
  • No single model is appropriate for all organizations, but most USSF organizations should be able to identify at least one model that best fits their mission, function, pace of work, and available personnel.

Recommendations

  • Implement the menu of integration options described in this report, and continue to refine the vignettes provided for each model to illustrate the range of options available to decisionmakers.
  • As part of the implementation process, refine the menu of integration models, and add models as needed.
  • Identify the appropriate level for making structure and integration decisions, and define associated constraints on end strength and funding.
  • Conduct additional analyses to support the decisionmaking process, verify the best overall approach for each unit, and evaluate the success of early adopters of new organizational models.

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the Department of the Air Force and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of 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.

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