The U.S. strategic environment has changed radically since the end of World War II, yet American military personnel policies have largely gone unchanged for several decades. The “up-or-out” promotion system still incentivizes service members to follow similar career paths, risking the loss of talented individuals trained at great expense. Military personnel policies profoundly affect service members’ decisions about joining and leaving the military, as well as the career paths that they choose to follow. Meanwhile, the Defense Department has not updated military compensation and benefits and retirement packages to meet the needs of the contemporary force.
Given the changes in the strategic environment, Defense officials and Congressional leaders need to consider whether these policies remain optimal. Do they provide the appropriate incentives in today’s world? Do they effectively capitalize on the tremendous human capital of those serving in uniform? It is thus particularly timely to ask whether there are ways to alter the current personnel policies in ways that cost less but still maintain, or perhaps improve, the effectiveness of the U.S. military.
CNAS’ military personnel project will provide a long overdue reexamination of these policies. This project is co-directed by CNAS President Dr. John Nagl  and Deputy Director of Studies and Senior Fellow Dr. Nora Bensahel  and will produce several reports and articles and host a series of private working groups and public events.
Previous related publications include: The Imperative of a New Approach to Warrior and Veteran Care ; An Indispensable Force: Investing in America’s National Guard and Reserves ; and Keeping the Edge: Revitalizing America's Military Officer Corps .