Cover: Targeting the Occupational Skill Pairings Needed in New Air Force Colonels

Targeting the Occupational Skill Pairings Needed in New Air Force Colonels

Published Oct 7, 2010

by Craig Moore, Brent Thomas, Raymond E. Conley


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Many colonel jobs need officers with a substantial background in more than one area (say, intelligence officers with expertise in political-military affairs or bomber pilots with experience in system acquisition), many can accept officers with different occupational backgrounds, many need officers with prior experience as colonels, and some are important for developing or testing officers with especially good prospects of becoming generals. Prior research targeted mixes of promotions that could help the Air Force sustain and assign inventories of generals consistent with requirements at each general-officer grade. Here, the authors develop and apply a flow model that recommends sizes for numerous skill pairings' pyramids of colonels, consistent with colonel jobs' needs and with targets for new general officers. The model also recommends annual numbers of new colonels with each occupational pairing and illustrates alignments between positions and each pyramid's colonels. Among other objectives, it aims to ensure that enough officers with the right occupational backgrounds will be available when job vacancies arise, that no more new colonels than necessary bring paired skills, and that the mix of colonels be as similar as possible to a reference (e.g., prior) mix. The method estimates the percentages of new colonels needed with each primary skill and paired skill, reflecting both preferred and less-demanding, or marginal, parameters.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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