Finding the Force of the Future

Improving Air Force Officer Outreach through an Investigation of School and Community Attributes

by Stefan Zavislan

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U.S. Air Force (USAF) senior leaders have increasingly expressed concerns about the diversity and representation of the force, stating that diversity is a "military necessity" (Air Force Instruction 36-7001, 2012). Simultaneously, these senior leaders believe that the growing complexity of the USAF mission, its weapons systems, and its opponents require ever-greater technical aptitude and ability from its personnel (Panetta, 2017). Taken together, these factors represent a significant challenge for military recruiters — particularly those responsible for soliciting applicants to the relatively higher skilled and relatively less diverse officer corps (Lim et al., 2014).

The goal of this dissertation is to improve understanding of the factors indicative of applications to the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps' (AFROTC) High School Scholarship Program (HSSP) as well as to provide an analytic method to determine where those applicants might best be found and how best to allocate its limited recruiting force to reach these applicants. Through the use of a data set of past applicants to the HSSP merged with a data set of school and community attributes, both an improved understanding of the determinants of applications to the officer corps is gained as well as the creation of targeted, school-level outreach recommendations. These recommendations assist AFROTC's limited outreach and recruiting force to more efficiently conduct outreach in order to broaden the pool of youth exposed to opportunities to serve as Air Force officers. Together, this research and recommendations can help AFROTC to improve the diversity and quality of its applicant pool.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Policy Relevance

  • Chapter Three

    Current Recruiting Practices

  • Chapter Four

    Determinants of Recruit Generation

  • Chapter Five

    Data Sources

  • Chapter Six

    Methodology

  • Chapter Seven

    Findings

  • Chapter Eight

    Recommendations and Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Data Cleaning Methodology

  • Appendix B

    AAR Qualitative Code Book

  • Appendix C

    Complete Variable Codebook

  • Appendix D

    ZIP/GBM Results

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in August 2017 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Kirsten Keller (Chair), Larry Hanser, and Nelson Lim.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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