Cover: Computer Simulation of General and Flag Officer Management

Computer Simulation of General and Flag Officer Management

Model Description and Results

Published Aug 6, 2009

by Peter Schirmer


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This technical report describes the design of a RAND simulation model that has been adapted specifically to address general and flag officer (GFO) management subject to provisions of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009. The Act introduced the joint pool rubric, which provides for the designation of up to 324 GFO positions that will be allocated among the services. These positions will not be counted against service GFO grade and strength ceilings. The revised strength accounting rules were designed to increase competition for joint positions and to encourage greater use of reserve component (RC) GFOs in those positions, but they will add to the complexity of managing active component (AC) and RC end and grade strengths. The computer simulation model was applied to assess the complexity and feasibility of managing the new end- and grade-strength accounting rules. The results support the conclusion that GFO end-strength management is a tractable challenge. The model schedules assignments, holds positions open when needed, forecasts retirements, forecasts promotions, and generally operates under a fairly sophisticated set of business rules and model procedures similar to real-world processes. With these processes, the model manages end strength, grade pyramids, and limitations on officers serving in external billets. End-strength violations do occur, but they appear to fall within the admittedly amorphous standard of “acceptable.”

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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