High Cost of Military Attrition Can Be Reduced

FPCD-79-28: Published: Feb 16, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 16, 1979.

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GAO made a study to determine the total costs associated with first-term attrition (those military members separated before completing their initial enlistments). Attrition is not only costly in terms of recruiting and training new personnel, but also for benefits available to servicemen after discharge. Attrition of those who entered military service during fiscal year 1974 to 1977 cost the Goverment an estimated $5.2 billion including veterans' benefits available to servicemen after discharge.

Higher attrition during recent years has resulted in cost savings in some areas such as a reduction in the operations of correctional facilities. The costs incurred during the recruit training period and the potential costs for unemployment compensation and veterans' benefits represent the Government's investment which must be amortized over the period of each member's initial enlistment. Therefore, GAO amortized the investment at the end of training over the productive period attritees served with their units. Costs which were not amortized, or were incurred for those who left during the training period, represent the cost of attrition. One way of reducing costs is by limiting the Government's investment in those who leave early. Those individuals who by their actions or performance choose not to fulfill their enlistment obligations could be denied veterans' benefits. Individuals with service-connected disabilities would still be eligible.

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