Needed--A More Complete Definition of a Quality First-Term Enlisted Person

FPCD-79-34: Published: Apr 25, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1979.

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In congressional debates and public discussions about the success or failure of the All-Volunteer Force, the quality of enlisted recruits is a major concern. However, the Department of Defense (DOD) has not yet defined a "quality" first-term enlisted person.

With the help of DOD and using various data, factors were identified as determinants or most important to quality. The quality enlisted person performs effectively in military training and job environments and behaves at an acceptable level, contributing to mission accomplishment. In addition to trainability and completion of enlistment, other factors were freedom from discipline problems, adaptability, and job performance. Regarding one aspect of the discipline factor, it was more cost effective to recruit high school graduates. The last two factors were harder to measure, and it generally was not shown how indicative high school graduation and mental aptitude are to those factors. Considerable research on these other factors is underway within each of the services to better understand quality.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) require that the use of high school diploma graduate and mental category data are placed in proper context so as to make clear that they currently have been shown as indexes of some factors of quality rather than all factors of quality; (2) establish a formal DOD-wide definition of enlisted member quality that the services can use to further refine; (3) require the services to develop additional quality criteria that include job performance; (4) require that research proposals on the quality issue clearly identify the relationship to an official DOD definition; (5) require that enlistment standards take into account results from research on the factors included in a quality definition; (6) establish formal procedures to ensure that results of service research projects are fed back to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for coordination purposes; (7) define more clearly the role and responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and the Assistant Secretary of Defense so as to enhance the research effort on quality; (8) establish a formal procedure for ensuring that research priorities of the Assistant Secretary of Defense are coordinated with the Under Secretary of Research and Engineering; and (9) establish the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery organization as a formal committee supported by members' full-time participation or members' part-time participation.

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