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Personnel Turbulence: The Policy Determinants of Permanent Change of Station Moves

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Personnel turbulence is a normal, long-term operating characteristic of the Army. Turbulence can take numerous forms, but its most visible manifestation is in permanent change of station moves PCS moves, which take place when soldiers enter or leave the Army or when they are reassigned from one station to another individually or with a unit that is relocated. PCS-move turbulence clearly entails costs for the Army - both monetary and nonmonetary - as well as costs for soldiers and their families. On the monetary side, the moves themselves are expensive. The Army spends more than a billion dollars annually in PCS moves alone. On the nonmonetary side, turbulence disrupts stability and continuity of personnel assignments, and the Army has long recognized that declines in stability and continuity hinder readiness by reducing unit cohesion and increasing the number of soldiers at any given time who are either in training or learning their jobs. Further, frequent moves - or the expectation of them - cost soldiers and their families. Such moves may reduce a spouses employment opportunities or earnings and may inhibit wealth-creating actions such as buying a home. Such uncompensated costs may shape soldiers attitudes toward the Army, which may, in turn, lead to greater attrition increased attrition may lead to declines in unit cohesion and, in turn, to declines in readiness. This research seeks to determine the extent and policy determinants of PCS moves, in the recent past and in the future, and to propose a range of alternative policies the Army could pursue to reduce instability and hold down costs, and by so doing, perhaps enhance cohesion and readiness.

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  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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