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Army PERSTEMPO: Strategic and Operational Challenges of a Soldier Issue

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Research paper

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Changes in the world order since 1989 have resulted in dramatic changes to the character of service for todays soldier. No longer do we have large formations based overseas to which soldiers are assigned on permanent change of station. National interests, however, still require American service members committed to global deployments to meet contingencies across a wide spectrum of conflict. Since the end of the Cold War the nature of deployments in which U.S. service members have participated has changed and their pace increased. While these deployments have increased in frequency and duration, the active Army has drawn down by 275,000 soldiers, or 36, statistically increasing the rate of soldier deployment. The resultant increased rate of deployment, referred to as Personnel Tempo, or PERSTEMPO, has degraded quality of life and impacted unit morale. That degradation becomes a disincentive for the quality personnel upon which we rely to enlist or reenlist. This manifestation will ultimately cause a reduction in the overall quality of the service member and reduced end-strength if soldiers are not accessed or retained in sufficient numbers. How much PERSTEMPO is normal or reasonable is unknown as well as how much may be acceptable to our soldiers. Senior Army and Defense leadership are justifiably concerned about where a breaking point may be. Taken together, the growing strains on military personnel and families, diminished training, a quality of life deficit, eroding maintenance and the inexorable pressure of budgetary constraints present a picture of a dangerously overextended force. The media also is becoming increasingly aware and concerned about the readiness and ability of the Army to successfully accomplish assigned missions. This paper will discuss the nature of PERSTEMPO, its importance, means to mitigate its adverse effects, and specific recommendations in reporting, policy, force structure, and training.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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