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Challenging Time in DOPMA. Flexible and Contemporary Military Officer Management

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The RAND National Defense Research Institute NDRI has studied changes to law and policy that would support the Secretary of Defenses desire to have officers serve longer in their assignments and in their careers. NDRI began by studying how assignments and careers could be lengthened for general and flag officers grade O-7 and above. A key finding was that some, but not all, jobs and careers could be lengthened without significantly a its key sections incorporated ideas and policies that had been around since the 1960s or even earlier up-or-out, for example, has been a Navy policy since the beginning of the 20th century, and mandatory retirement at age 62 dates back to the Civil War. DOPMA has served the needs of the services reasonably well, but there is a growing sense that the current personnel-management system may not meet the requirements of the future operating environment. One of the criticisms of the DOPMA system is that it does not allow for much variety in the career paths of most officers. Under the DOPMA system, decisions about assignments, promotions, and retirements are driven by timebased laws and policies that are applied more or less uniformly across the services. As an alternative to the current time-based system, the emerging focus in defense planning and in the services human capital strategies is on knowledge, skills, and abilities i.e., officer competencies as a basis for career management. The focus on managing officer competencies could require a system with greater flexibility that would enable certain officers to have longer assignments and longer careers. Although the expectation by the Office of the Secretary of Defense is that greater flexibility in career management could improve organizational outcomes and individual performance, it is beyond the scope of this research to forecast or predict such effects.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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