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Force of the Future Report Recommendations

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Friday, September 11, 2015
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

The report exploring changes in the future of the military was just delivered to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.  If implemented in part or whole, the result could be major changes in the law.  The first pieces of legislation are already being drafted for introductions early next year but DoD anticipates implementation would take a decade.

The 200+ page “Force of the Future” report included recommendations to better balance work and family demands, such as expanding parental leave and removing the “up and out” approach to force management.  ROA attended the Reserve Forces Policy Board where many of the recommendations below were discussed.  The report is not public yet, as the services digest it.

Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson gave the RFPB an overview of the report.  He noted the current system has worked well for 70 years but the private sector is now outpacing the services in “talent” management.  Cracks in the foundation began to manifest themselves in the 1990s when major problems in readiness were encountered when mobilizing for the Gulf War. 

According to Carson, if the military can respond to contingencies in other countries in hours it should be able to change internally (and he has noted before how the military has brilliantly done so).  He concluded, saying he does not expect consensus on everything but is concerned the services will not use all of the tools available from the recommendations.  Finally, he paraphrased Albert Einstein by saying he believes DoD should not solve the problem before understanding the problem.

A major concern with Force of the Future recommendations is that all of the services are currently in different places along the path of implementing change.  The Navy is moving forward by establishing an Office of Talent Optimization to develop science, technology, engineering and math accessions.  They are also piloting an on-line “detail” marketplace for job openings to increase the number of volunteers for assignments.  The Air Force is piloting four total force support entities that will manage both active and reserve forces under one roof rather than have separate organizational structures.  The Army started the Army's Career Intermission Pilot Program to offer soldiers an intermission in their career to accommodate life decisions, such as attending law school.  The Marines say they were already implementing changes before the Force of the Future initiative. 

Force of the Future report initiatives:

A1.  Replace “Up or Out” with “Perform and Out.”  The services lose members at around 40-45 years of age -- when they are performing at their highest level.  Carson said careers need to last longer while retaining quality; if the military is to keep field grades officers longer, for example, they must be quality field grade officers contributing in an important fashion.

A2. Develop and Employ Talent Management System (TMS).  These types of systems are currently being used in the private sector for recruitment, performance management, learning and development, and compensation management. 

A3.  Establish Technical Career Tracks.  The need for technical skills is increasing and service members should be able to stay in those career tracks without a negative impact on career progression and promotions. 

A4.  Align Compensations to a Talent Management Paradigm.  This will require establishing new metrics for evaluating talent versus solely job performance.  Services need to be able to measure and identify high-potential talent as these individuals tend to grow into leadership positions.  Highly talented people want to be challenged and see results, which is not often achieved in a bureaucratic environment.

A5.  Increase Gender and Racial Diversity.  The Navy believes women are an underused talent pool and are evaluating opening jobs previously closed to women. (One could argue the Army and Air Force are on board with this sentiment!) The current personnel systems, in place from the 1940s when women were not a major presence in the work force, must be updated.  The services will try to be more reflective of the civilian population. This year’s incoming West Point class is the most diverse group the school has ever admitted.

A6.  Expand Parental Leave.  This will include using parental leave for adoptions.  It will be available to men and women.  The Navy is out front with its new extended maternal leave policy.

A7.  Improve Quality of Life for Military Families.  This would include expanding gyms and adapting military service fitness tests to age and medical status.  The services are also piloting child care hours by staying open 24/7 to include Naval Station Norfolk.

A8.  Expand Fertility Treatment.  This has become more of an issue for the military as a result of injuries received from IEDs.  Congress recently tried to help with “ . . . expanded fertility services offered by the Defense Department, through Tricare, to severely injured troops, including those with fertility issues related to traumatic brain injury, and also would have lifted the ban on in vitro fertilization at VA medical centers.”  http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/capitol-hill/2015/07/22/congress-scuttles-bill-fertility-treatment-troops-vets/30528847/

A9.  Improve Recruiting and Accession Efficiency.  This recommendation was the most enthusiastically embraced by all of the services.  It can increase the quality of the force by saving $1 billion each year.  For example, 20 percent of recruits completing basic training do not show up for their first duty station, resulting in loss of the training investment when they are discharged.

A10.  Increase Permeability between Components.  The thought here is to integrate personnel and pay systems.  The recent change recommended by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to reduce Guard and Reserve duty statuses from over 30 to just six is an example of the types of changes that will be needed.  The services will be offering more 2-3 year limited active duty tours for Guard and Reserve members as a way to augment active forces without increasing their end strength.  The services would prefer to do this by merging the RC MPA funds into the active duty account.

A11.  Expand In-Service Civil Schooling Opportunities.  The Navy has increased quotas next year in their pilot for service members to complete graduate education in civilian institutions.

A12.  Expand Partnerships with Industry and Local Government.  DoD believes more service members should train with industry, using 1-2 year assignments.

A13.  Modernize Joint Professional Development.  The Army wants to “set the table” for future leaders by establishing the right mix of senior service school, joint qualifications and enterprise experience.  Right now 50 percent of their captains are leaving the service.

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