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The U.S. military services and the combatant commands have reported vacancies in funded officer billets, a situation that can have adverse effects on organizational performance and mission readiness. At the same time, evolution in the capabilities of the enlisted force and in the nature of military work may have given rise to opportunities to fill these billets with personnel other than officers.

To better understand how to match the Department of Defense's changing workforce with its evolving manpower needs, the authors examine opportunities to enhance or maintain personnel fill rates through alternative mixes of military manpower, especially increased use of enlisted personnel, warrant officers, and limited-duty officers. This report discusses how the enlisted force has evolved, reviews current manpower policy, proposes a framework and criteria for considering the conversion of positions currently designated for officers for performance by others, and applies proposed criteria to six specific positions to illustrate the process.

The authors conclude that the Department of Defense may indeed have opportunities to better leverage the experience, education, and capability of enlisted personnel, warrant officers, and limited-duty officers in some billets now designated for officers. However, new and revised guidance is required.

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.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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