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Serving Away from Home How Deployments Influence Reenlistment
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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Our research considered whether deployment affects the reenlistment of enlisted members and why. A fundamental underlying question was why past deployment should exert any influence on current reenlistment behavior. We suggest that a relationship exists because deployment enables members to learn about their preferences for deployment and about the frequency and duration of deployment. We hypothesized that members enter military service with naive expectations about how much they will like deployment, the frequency and duration of deployment, and the variance of frequency and duration. These expectations are revised following an actual deployment experience. We described this learning mechanism as a Bayesian updating process. Although each deployment has its own characteristics, we hypothesized that learning occurs because deployments have common aspects-such as the separation from family and friends the opportunity to apply training on missions, risks the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency, resolve, and courage as well as the possible sense of personal fulfillment. If deployment proves to be more satisfying than expected, the member revises upward his or her expected utility of remaining in service.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE