Impacts of National Economic Conditions on Air Force Reserve Recruitment, Retention, and Participation
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
Pagination or Media Count:
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the unprecedented participation levels contributed by guard and reserve forces enabled the military to simultaneously fight in two wars and sustain increased global force projections while supporting homeland security initiatives. This busy period also signified the transition from the strategic to the operational reserve force construct, a paradigm change in employment of part-time reservists expanding their traditional role of reliance on in case of a national emergency to routine operational support throughout the continuum of operations. Essential to the success of this employment model is sustained contributions from Air Force Reserve AFR members. Concurrently with the high participation levels of 2007-2012 was a severe economic recession characterized by high unemployment that increased the availability of reservists to support military operations. Therefore, it is prudent to juxtapose national economic conditions and AFR manpower availability to illuminate potential impacts that threaten the future vitality of the operational reserve construct. A statistical analysis was performed to evaluate the relationships of an increasing Gross Domestic Product and decreasing unemployment rate on AFR recruiting, retention, and participation by performing a bivariate correlation. A regression was conducted on some salient results to highlight potential future impacts. The analysis overwhelmingly reflected that a growing national economy has the potential to negatively impact recruitment, retention, and participation. This has the potential to threaten the operational reserve construct. Potential solutions and specific recommendations to ameliorate this potential threat are made for further analysis.