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Chapter 10

PERSONNEL AND QUALITY OF LIFE

The past decade has been one of significant change. The military enters the new millennium one–third smaller, but richer in quality as well as diversity. However, there are signs of frustration with the tempo of operations. Consequently, the Department joins with a supportive Congress in sustaining resource levels necessary to improve recruiting, training, quality of life (QoL), and compensation programs. In January 1999, the Secretary announced a major initiative to provide across–the–board pay raises for all service members, to target pay raises for top–performing noncommissioned officers and mid–grade commissioned officers, and to improve the military retirement system—all of which were supported by Congress for enactment beginning in FY 2000. These important changes set a stage for responding to the needs of units, by first responding to the needs of people.

RECRUITING HIGH–QUALITY INDIVIDUALS

Establishing Sound Goals

The Services must recruit more than 200,000 young people each year for the active duty armed forces, with another 150,000 for the Selected Reserve. An aggressive recruiting effort has sustained the force, ensuring that capable and seasoned leaders are available to units around the world. Today, recruiting requirements are growing as the drawdown nears its completion, creating a demand to replace losses one–for–one. A robust job market, coupled with an increased propensity among high school graduates to go on to college, however, has created a tough recruiting environment.

DoD generally reports recruit characteristics along two dimensions—educational achievement and aptitude. Both are important, but for different reasons.

The Department values recruits with a high school diploma because years of research and experience show that high school diploma graduates are more likely to complete their initial enlistment contract. The better retention associated with those who complete high school saves money. It costs taxpayers more than $35,000 to replace (recruit, train, and equip) each individual who leaves service prematurely. This argues for recruitment of those who are most likely to adapt to military life and stay the course—the high school diploma is a reliable indicator of stick–to–itiveness. However, it is important to evaluate alternative ways to screen for success, with a goal of identifying those who would stay the course despite an education level that might suggest otherwise. To that end, the Department will continue to evaluate, through means such as pilot tests, whether the Services can expand the pool of eligibles (e.g., by recruiting more GED holders) without harming retention rates.

Aptitude also is important in assigning recruiting goals. All recruits take a written enlistment test called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which measures math and verbal skills. Again, research and experience show that those who score at or above the 50th percentile on the AFQT demonstrate greater achievement in training and job performance compared to those below the 50th percentile. Roughly 66 percent of recent recruits scored above the 50th percentile of a nationally representative sample of 18 to 23 year olds.

Challenges in a Changing Recruiting Environment

Recruiting has been challenging over the past several years. It was especially so in FY 1999 because of a robust economy, increased interest among potential recruits in attending college, and fewer veterans to serve as role models. During 1999, the Army fell short of its recruiting mission by about 6,300 and the Air Force was short slightly more than 1,700 new recruits. The Navy and Marine Corps achieved requirements in FY 1999. All Services achieved excellent recruit quality, as shown in Table 14.

As Table 15 shows, FY 1999 was a mixed recruiting year for the Selected Reserve. For FY 1999, the Army National Guard achieved 100 percent of their recruiting goal and the Marine Corps Reserve achieved 101 percent of its goal. The Army Reserve missed its objective by 10,300 recruits; the Naval Reserve missed its goal by 4,700 recruits; the Air National Guard achieved 99 percent of their goal; and the Air Force Reserve failed to achieve their recruiting goal by about 2,000 recruits.

Since 1975, the Department of Defense annually has conducted the Youth Attitude Tracking Study (YATS), a computer–assisted telephone interview of a nationally representative sample of 10,000 young men and women. This survey provides information on the propensity, attitudes, and motivations of young people toward military service. Enlistment propensity is the percentage of youth who state they plan to definitely or probably be serving on active duty in at least one of the Services in the next few years. Research has shown that the expressed intentions of young men and women are strong predictors of enlistment behavior.

Results from the 1999 YATS survey show that, overall, the propensity of youth for military service was higher than in the past few years. In 1999, 29 percent of 16–21 year–old men expressed interest in at least one active–duty Service; only 26 percent had expressed such interest the previous few years. Young women’s propensity also increased slightly. In 1999, 15 percent of 16–21 year–old women expressed interest in military service compared to 12 and 13 percent in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

During the first half of the 1990s, enlistment propensity declined as the Services experienced serious cuts in recruiting resources. During the 1995–1998 period, recruitment advertising almost doubled as compared with 1994 expenditures, and YATS results for those years suggested that the earlier decline in propensity may have stabilized, even in the face of a robust economy. Now the 1999 results show an increase in youth interest in military service, further reinforcing the importance of advertising in raising youth awareness about military opportunities. Thus, continued investment in recruiting and advertising resources is required to assure that the pool of young men and women interested in the military will be available to meet Service personnel requirements. Appendix F contains additional detail on 1999 YATS results by gender and race/ ethnicity.

The Department has initiated a range of initiatives to address the challenges of recruiting, including authorizing the Services to increase both enlistment bonuses and Service college funds to the statutory maximums, increasing the number of production recruiters, and reprogramming funds to increase recruitment advertising. Because it is costly to replace a recruit who leaves early, the Department is also focusing on reducing first–term attrition. A joint–Service working group is reviewing a series of options to stem such early losses. The Department also is initiating a two–year recruiting reengineering effort, which will test and evaluate a series of recruiting initiatives to identify and create new market opportunities; improve recruiter efficiency and effectiveness by exploiting recent advances in technology; and reduce attrition. Finally, recognizing that recruiting in the coming millennium may require new and innovative programs, the Secretary sponsored a comprehensive review of the Department’s recruitment advertising programs. The results of this review are far ranging and will help the Department better communicate its message to America’s youth.

National Service and Recruiting Programs

The Department continues to review the potential impact of National Service on military recruiting, and believes that both programs can coexist successfully since the National Service program is smaller and the value of its benefits is of lower monetary value than military enlistment benefits.

Military Force Management

RETENTION

Today’s retention environment is characterized by frequent employment of the armed forces in a variety of roles and missions intended to ensure regional stability and economic progress in important areas of the world. Such an environment requires a fully manned, agile military operating within tailored force packages that support varied missions. The Department’s ability to meet these commitments may be challenged by the retention strains currently being experienced.

Table 14

Quality and Numbers of Enlisted Accessions - Active

FY 1999 Indices

Accessionsa (in thousands)


Category
(OSD
Standard)
Service

Percent
High School
Diploma
Grads
(90)

Percent
Above
Average
Cat I–IIIA
(60)



Percent
Cat IV
(4)


Total
FY 1999
Objectives
(000s)


Total
FY 1999
Actual
(000s)


Final
FY 1999
Percent Mission Accomplishment


FY 2000
Mission
(projectedb)
(000s)

Army

90%

63%

2%

74.5

68.2

92%

76.5

Navy

90%

65%

0%

52.5

52.6

100%

59.2

Marine Corps

96%

64%

1.0%

33.7

33.7

100%

34.6

Air Force

99%

76%

0.2%

33.8

32.1

95%

33.4

Total

93%

66%

0.9%

194.5

186.6

96%

203.7

a Includes prior service accessions. Only Army and Navy recruit to a prior service mission.
b Based on Service recruiting production reports and DoD FY 2000 budget estimates (includes prior service accessions).

 

Table 15

Enlisted Accessions - Reserve

Accessionsa (in 000s)


Category
(OSD Standard)
Service

Total
FY 1999
Objectives
(000s)

Total
FY 1999
Actual
(000s)

Final
FY 1999
Percent Mission
Accomplishment

FY 2000
Mission
(projectedb)
(000s)

Army National Guard

57.0

57.0

100

54.0

Army Reserve

52.0

41.8

80

48.5

Naval Reserve

20.5

15.7

77

18.4

Marine Corps Reserve

11.2

9.6

101

10.1

Air National Guard

8.5

8.4

99

10.1

Air Force Reservec

9.5

7.5

67

10.5

Total

158.7

140.0

88

151.6

a Includes prior service accessions.
b Based on Service recruiting production reports and DoD FY 2000 budget estimates (includes prior service accessions).
c The Air Force Reserve goal includes officer and enlisted data.

Pilot retention is a major concern within the Air Force and the Navy. Projections from both government and independent agencies forecast a sustained increase in commercial airline hiring, which will continue to affect manning in this critical career field. The Department is enacting a full range of management initiatives and retention incentives to ensure that cockpits stay manned. Where individual qualification and experience allow, the Department’s goal is to fill non–flying staff billets within the Navy and Air Force ranks with non–aviators in order to preserve pilot to aircraft ratios. Aviators are not the only retention concern. The Army has experienced an unexpectedly high loss rate for captains, who comprise 35 percent of its officer corps, are vital to the Army’s ability to accomplish its mission. The Navy’s surface warfare officer shortage challenges fleet operations worldwide, and the Marine Corps has growing concerns about fixed wing pilot losses. All of these areas will continue to receive close management review to correct shortfalls and to prioritize the distribution of available manning, placing assets where they best support operational readiness.

With regard to the enlisted force, the Army is meeting overall retention goals, but encountering shortages in some of the low–density, high–demand occupation fields. Although Navy first–termers and mid–career petty officers are not enlisting at the pace of recent years, the experience mix is generally good. The Air Force is undergoing an unusual downturn in retention and management efforts continue to focus on the critical sortie generating skills such as crew chief, avionics maintenance, and air traffic control. Marine Corps retention remains steady. The Corps, however, is experiencing shortages in certain signal intelligence, data processing, and communications career fields. All of these point to a sustained need to fully fund the retention incentives set forth in the President’s Budget.

The Department continues to work closely with the Services in addressing retention, recognizing that not all solutions are monetary. Senior leadership, for example, is focusing on segments of the force that may be overstressed by deployment patterns. These efforts include reductions in the number and scope of inspections and exercises, as a means of eliminating retention detractors.

TEMPO

DoD uses two terms to describe the tempo of the force. Personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO), defined as the time an individual spends away from his or her home station, is an important factor in measuring (assessing) force stability. The Department remains focused in this area since survey results show a clear linkage between PERSTEMPO and decisions to leave the military. The pace of operations, or OPTEMPO, describes the pace of operations experienced by units, especially in terms of deployments and training; this area remains a concern since OPTEMPO drives PERSTEMPO.

The Department is examining the quality of life considerations of high PERSTEMPO and OPTEMPO. More of today’s military is married than was the case ten or twenty years ago. Moreover, even the more junior members maintain a family focus. With that in mind, the Department is surveying service members to determine, in part, what importance service members attach to quality of life issues when making their decisions to stay or leave.

Quality of life initiatives focus on enhancing predictability of duty schedules, distributing missions to the Total Force and protecting quality of life during the interdeployment period. The Air Force’s Aerospace Expeditionary Force is a promising step toward making Air Force life more predictable, and the Army is looking at deployment rates to help reduce stresses on units. Additionally, the Department remains committed to the establishment of measurements to support close review of emerging trends in the pace of operations, including analyses of individual tempo levels.

JOINT OFFICER MANAGEMENT

The Department continues to benefit from the Joint Officer Management Program enacted by the Goldwater–Nichols Act of 1986. The number of individual officers who are educated and experienced in joint matters continues to grow, with the leadership of the Services conveying to their officer corps the importance of joint duty and joint education. As a positive indicator of that commitment, the Department, in 1999, witnessed its most significant reduction in the number of joint duty waivers of any previous year for officers attaining general or flag rank. The Department remains committed to the goal that every line officer selected for general or flag rank is experienced in joint operations.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

President Harry Truman once said, "We cannot afford the luxury of a leisurely attack upon prejudice and discrimination. The national government must show the way." Fifty–one years ago, he acted to prohibit discrimination in the federal government and to integrate the armed forces. This commitment to equal opportunity started by President Truman has produced within DoD today an institutional culture that values fairness, dignity, and justice in the treatment of its most important resource—people.

Entering the 21st century, the Department acknowledges that the continued success of the all–volunteer force and the continued achievement of national security interests require the full use of the talents of quality recruits, irrespective of race, ethnic background, and gender. In an October 1998 policy memorandum to assign accountability for equal opportunity programs, Secretary of Defense Cohen proclaimed, "I will not tolerate illegal discrimination against or harassment of any DoD personnel. I expect all commanders, executives, managers, and supervisors to work continuously toward establishing a climate of respect and fairness for all DoD personnel."

Although challenges continue in terms of representation of women and minorities in senior grades and ranks, the United States military can justifiably present itself as a model of diversity and equal opportunity. When U.S. forces are deployed to countries around the world, both allies and foes alike see a strong, competent military, reflective of America’s racial and ethnic diversity.

Additionally, the Department is recognized internationally as a model of diversity and a template for supporting force cohesion and readiness through equal opportunity policies and human relations education. For example, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), is a key member of the Defense Committee Working Group supporting Vice President Gore’s U.S.–South Africa Binational Commission. Through the International Military Education and Training program, DEOMI provides training to South African military officers to assist them in formulating equal opportunity policies within the South African National Defense Force.

WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) was established in 1951 to assist the armed forces in recruiting quality women for military service. The role of DACOWITS has since evolved into advising the Secretary of Defense on all policies relating to the utilization and quality of life of female service members, as well as general quality of life issues.

In 1999, DACOWITS members conducted over 70 continental United States installation visits covering all five Services including the reserve forces. Additionally the Executive Committee conducted overseas installation visits to the United States Pacific Command area of responsibility, visiting bases in Hawaii, Okinawa, Korea, and Japan. Over 2,700 service women and men provided their views to DACOWITS members on such priority issues as increasing operating and personnel tempos, health care, promotion opportunity, and assignments. Notably, complaints and concerns about sexual harassment and discrimination significantly declined from previous years. Command climates were, for the most part, realistic and generally supportive of women in the Services. In 1999, DACOWITS focused on:

  • Ensuring a fair, equitable and professional work environment; addressing the disparities in promotion/selection opportunities; encouraging commitment to command climates free from unlawful discrimination; and supporting a leadership environment that fosters good order and discipline.
  • Assessing and measuring women’s opportunities to contribute to the nation’s defense in a manner that most effectively utilizes their talents.
  • Taking steps to guarantee a safe, healthy, and responsive environment in which to live and work for military women and their families. Areas of emphasis included affordability, availability, and accessibility of quality physical and behavioral health care; housing; child/youth care; and effective programs and services for victim assistance and protection against violence.

  • CIVILIAN PERSONNEL

    Civilian Downsizing and Transition Assistance

    The Department continues to reduce civilian positions through streamlining without disrupting the defense mission. It has been able to do this humanely and efficiently through the use of its innovative transition tools. Because of these efforts, the Department has experienced ten consecutive years of downsizing with minimal employee turbulence. Civilian employment has been reduced by nearly 400,000 positions with fewer than 9 percent of these being actual employee layoffs.

    Between its inception in 1993 and the end of FY 1999, the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment program prevented the need for approximately 139,000 layoffs. Legislative authority to offer buyouts was extended to 2003. Additionally, the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority was used to save over 59,000 employees from involuntary separation or demotion during the same period.

    Since the end of FY 1989, the Department reabsorbed over 72,000 displaced employees through its award–winning Priority Placement Program. Attendant use of the Defense Outplacement Referral System resulted in workers facing dislocation being employed outside DoD.

    Civilian Training, Education, and Development

    A more corporate approach to training, education, and development of the Department’s civilian workforce is a priority as downsizing has resulted in fewer new hires and as DoD seeks to avoid skill and experience imbalances. The Department and its components are focusing on a managed approach to develop technical and professional skills, while the Defense Leadership and Management Program (DLAMP) was created to address the need for the systematic development of managerial and leadership skills. DLAMP is a systematic, Department–wide program of joint civilian education and development. Implementing recommendations of the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, DLAMP provides the framework for educating and developing current and future civilian leaders in a manner that complements the Service programs. It fosters an environment of shared understanding and sense of mission among civilian employees and military personnel. Inaugurated in 1997, DLAMP incorporates defense–focused graduate education, rotational assignments in a wide variety of occupations and organizations, and professional military education into a comprehensive program designed to prepare civilians for 3,000 of the Department’s top civilian leadership positions.

    The program has grown to over 850 participants, with an anticipated addition of 350 new participants each year. To date, 26 defense–focused graduate courses have been developed, with the final three courses scheduled for completion in 2000. In FY 1998 and 1999, the program conducted 60 graduate courses with 822 participants. For FY 2000, 90 courses are scheduled. The program has dramatically increased civilian participation at the senior service schools, as well as sending DLAMP students to a new three–month Professional Military Education (PME) course at the National Defense University. During FY 1999, 99 participants completed a ten–month PME course through DLAMP; 83 additional participants began a 10–month PME program in August 1999. There have been 48 graduates of the new three–month PME program, with 96 more students scheduled to attend that program during FY 2000. While the overall level of support and the educational opportunities associated with this program cannot be directly related to student promotions, it is important to note that 16 individuals were selected for senior executive service positions while participating in DLAMP.

    Defense Partnership Council

    In FY 1999, the Defense Partnership Council initiated and completed a large–scale effort to examine partnership and labor relations initiatives in the Department. A survey of 20 percent of the Department’s sites with appropriated fund bargaining units provided the data for the study. The resulting report highlighted the successful characteristics of partnership efforts; the barriers to forming and sustaining partnerships; the contributions labor and management partners make to organizational effectiveness; and the value of training in creating cooperative labor relations. The Council will undertake a variety of initiatives to foster further partnership efforts in the Department as a result of the completed study.

    Civilian Personnel Regionalization and Systems Modernization

    The Department’s innovative efforts to regionalize civilian personnel services and deploy a modern information management system are well underway. Regionalization of service delivery capitalizes on economies of scale by consolidating processing operations and program management into 22 regional service centers. By the end of FY 1999, the military departments and defense agencies had established all 22 regional service centers and 88 percent of the planned customer support units. The customer support units that are operating provide personnel service to 84 percent of the Department’s civilian workforce. Personnel support functions requiring face–to–face contact will remain at over 300 DoD customer support units worldwide. Through these consolidations, the Department seeks to attain a ratio of 88 employees served per personnel specialist by the end of FY 2001 compared to the current baseline of 61:1.

    During FY 1999, the Department completed system qualification testing of the modern Defense Civilian Personnel Data System (DCPDS). Deployment of the modern DCPDS for operational testing began in October 1999 and is scheduled for completion by December 2000.

    Demonstration Projects

    Personnel demonstration projects permit agencies to obtain waivers from federal civil service regulations to test alternative personnel management approaches. The DoD–wide, civilian acquisition workforce personnel demonstration began operating in FY 1999 bringing the total number of active demonstration projects to 10. In addition to the DoD–wide project, nine science and technology laboratories are participating in human resources management demonstration projects (five in the Army, three in the Navy, and one in the Air Force). Two more Army laboratories are actively developing demonstrations.

    Injury and Unemployment Compensation

    The Department’s consolidated injury compensation and unemployment compensation programs again set the government–wide standard. The program’s active evaluation and verification methods for reviewing claims included the use of DoD liaison personnel co–located with Department of Labor district offices, home visits, and a comprehensive automated data tracking system deployed at 415 installations. Since 1994, these methods directly contributed to a 2.5 percent decrease in the Department’s injury compensation bill, avoiding $46.7 million in costs.

    International Personnel Management

    During 1999, the Civilian Personnel Policy Deputate was actively involved in international civilian personnel management. The Deputate continued its close collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Services in Germany to implement the 1998 accord, including a bottom–up review of all technical expert and troop care positions. The Deputate is also actively engaged with its counterparts over proposed German initiatives related to U.S. citizen hiring practices.

    In Portugal, the Deputate serves on a bilateral commission that is responsible for implementing the 1996 Bilateral Agreement. The Commission, and its subordinate U.S.–Portugal Labor Committee, focus on cooperation and labor matters involving some 900 Azoreans at Lajes Air Base. Both groups meet at least twice yearly to address ongoing initiatives on cooperation in defense and on matters involving workers at Lajes.

    In April 1999, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy visited with senior Ministry of Defense officials in Santiago, Chile, as part of the U.S.–Chile Defense Consultative Committee. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense conducted a working group on civilian matters focusing on defense civil service and education of civilians in defense. Efforts in developing the civilian cadre and leadership in the Defense Ministry are based on the DLAMP model. A similar effort has begun with defense counterparts in Argentina, and technical assistance is continuing in Croatia.

    Recruitment and Hiring

    After only two years, DoD has exceeded its four–year goal to hire 1,600 former welfare recipients. Over 2,600 new employees have been placed in both appropriated and nonappropriated fund jobs. This figure represents 165 percent of the four–year goal and 19 percent of the total 14,000 welfare to work employees placed throughout the federal government in support of the President’s pledge to end traditional welfare.

    QUALITY OF LIFE

    An essential component of military morale is a good quality of life. Troops who do not have to worry about basic home–based issues are more ready than those who do. Living near people of like circumstance enhances military identity and builds informal support networks. Quality of life is also about choice and control over critical areas of one’s life. Unfortunately, military work does not always allow for a lot of choice, therefore, it is imperative to build in choices in community life. The challenge is to ameliorate mission demands of military life with strong community support programs that provide needed respite, build morale, and develop a strong sense of community. The goal is to build strong communities which create cohesion and career commitment. As such, the Department remains committed to seven guiding principles for QoL:

  • Improve standard of living by continuing to fund raises in basic pay.
  • Build more predictability into military life.
  • Provide modern communities with quality health care and housing.
  • Increase educational opportunities (e.g. distance learning, spouse eligibility). This is a cornerstone of the Department’s quality of life program.
  • Ensure parity in QoL programs across installations and Services.
  • Build a solid communication line to troops and their families so as to stay in touch with their insights and perceptions.
  • Revitalize a sense of community.

  • Taking the Pulse of Quality of Life - Communication and Marketing

    In this age of accelerating change and borderless, instantaneous communication, the proactive efforts to communicate with service members has never been more important. The Department is taking aggressive steps in this area to communicate the wealth of support available to service members and families and to hear directly from the troops in the field on their most urgent needs. The Department will complete a comprehensive survey on quality of life and the results will be published in 2000. This effort will be expanded to comply with the congressionally–directed requirement to do an annual targeted survey. DoD uses surveys, such as this one, to stay abreast of issues in the field. Regional and Service–efforts such as the Army’s Family Action Plan, the Air Force’s Bi–Annual QoL Survey, the QoL in the U.S. Marine Corps study, and the United States European Command’s Junior Enlisted Conference help the Department’s efforts to stay in touch with troops and families. In 2000, the DoD QoL Symposium will showcase technology as a tool to improve service delivery in quality of life. Technology initiatives play a major role in the Department’s marketing efforts. Interactive Web sites such as Navy Lifelines, the Air Force’s FAMNET/Crossroads, and the soon to be released Department QoL Gateway not only allow for traditional information dissemination but are designed to allow for surveys, polling, and instant feedback on quality of life issues from the field. Communication with U.S. troops and families is critical to empowering them to make sound decisions about life in military communities.

    Compensation and Benefits

    America’s armed forces are operating under a combination of influences never before encountered. The end of the Cold War fundamentally changed the demands on America’s military. At home, the nation is experiencing economic prosperity and a growing demand for high technological skills and knowledge. These economic developments, welcome as they are, mean sharper competition for the high–quality men and women needed for the armed forces. Within the Services, there are growing challenges in recruiting and retention. In response to these developments, the Department took actions designed to improve the quality of personnel recruited and retained in America’s armed forces throughout the 21st century. With the support of Congress, the Department sponsored pay and retirement improvements for the men and women of the armed services to compensate them fairly for their outstanding performance and dedicated service to the nation. The Department’s pay and retirement improvements in FY 2000 included three key initiatives:

  • Across–the–board pay increases for all service members. Effective January 1, 2000, all service members received a pay raise of 4.8 percent. In addition, annual programmed pay raises are 3.7 percent for FY 2001 and FY 2002 and 3.2 percent for FY 2003 and beyond.
  • Pay table reform that provides greater reward for performance. In addition to across–the–board pay increases on January 1, 2000, one time adjustments to the pay table will be made July 1, 2000, that will fix the imbalances in the proportion of raises coming from longevity and promotion. These systematic changes are the first in 50 years and acknowledge the importance of performance while encouraging continued military service.
  • Improving the military retirement system to meet changing times. The retirement system for service members who entered after 1986 (Redux Retirement Plan) has been a continuing source of dissatisfaction. DoD initiated changes with the legislation will now give affected personnel an option to retire under the pre–1986 military retirement plan or to accept a one–time $30,000 lump sum bonus and remain under the Redux Retirement Plan.

  • These initiatives by the President, Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs, and Congress respond to critical recruiting and retention indicators. Taken together, this is the largest increase in military compensation in a generation. They are part of a larger effort that includes quality of life improvements, improved housing and subsistence allowances, and targeted incentive pays, special pays, and bonuses.

    Sustaining Compensation

    The President’s Budget for FY 2001 will continue the excellent work begun in FY 2000 to improve compensation for the uniformed forces and support critical recruiting and retention concerns.

    The Department recently unveiled a major initiative to eliminate service members’ out–of–pocket costs for living off post by increasing the basic housing allowance. At present, service members pay as much as 19 percent of their housing costs out–of–pocket while individuals living on base have their housing and utilities paid for. The Department is committed to cutting these out–of–pocket expenses to 15 percent by FY 2001 and gradually reducing them to zero by FY 2005.

    The leaders of DoD and the Services are deeply committed to providing for the welfare of the men and women who serve the nation so well, and for their families. These initiatives all work to improve the quality of life of service members and their families, while preserving high levels of personnel readiness. Competitive compensation systems that aid the effort to recruit and retain quality people underpin the building of the 21st century military.

    Table 16

    Executive Committee Workplan

    ACTION 1. Address Health Care Concerns
    OUTCOME: A constantly fit and ready force, and healthy communities, at home and abroad, in peacetime and in conflict.
    TASKS

  • Review access and availability of counseling services to include family wellness, etc.
  • Educate beneficiaries on TRICARE options and how to access care.
  • Review how women’s health care needs are addressed to include impact of lack of availability of OB/GYN and pediatric care on mission readiness.
  • Review how health care needs/requirements are addressed for the reserve component, recruiters, and outside the continental United States (OCONUS) DoD civilians.
  • ACTION 3. Address Emerging/Unique QoL Issues and Overall QoL Policies of the Total Force (to include DoD civilians, recruiters, and reserve components)
    OUTCOME: An enhanced integration of the Total Force by improved QoL support policies.
    TASKS

  • Advocate for a competitive DoD compensation system.
  • Exploit Internet–based technology to deliver a broad range of QoL services to recruiters, reservists, deployed, geographically separated, and on/off base personnel.
  • Develop QoL support policies for the Total Force (with initial focus on civilians, reserves, and recruiters).
  • Develop a needs assessment instrument to determine needs of top 20 high tempo units/specialties.
  • ACTION 2. Prepare Community Support for the 21st Century
    OUTCOME: A military force with a strong sense of community and pride in belonging that preserves Service cultures.
    TASKS

  • Address the effect of regionalization, competitive sourcing, and privatization on QoL programs.
  • Support full implementation of the Youth Strategic Plan.
  • Identify current levels of support and gaps concerning the Impact Aid issue.
  • Continue housing improvements and implement Service master plans for housing and barracks/dormitories.
  • Foster life–long learning for the entire community through installation educational activities including DoDEA, voluntary education, libraries, spouse education, and other activities.
  • Continue significant improvements in the quality and availability of physical fitness centers and programs.
  • Sustain the commissary benefit.
  • Support implementation of the DoD plan to address violence in military families.
  • ACTION 4. Take the Pulse of QoL
    OUTCOME: Timely information to make decisions about QoL support for troops and families.
    TASKS

  • Develop a White Paper to outline and reinforce DoD’s commitment to QoL of the Total Force and families.
  • Integrate Service and OSD survey and research efforts to gain comprehensive information on QoL to include reserves.
  • Ensure predictability and longevity of viable QoL support programs to ensure they are executed for intended purposes and advocate for additional resources.
  • Individual Services develop a process to identify and follow up on grass roots concerns of singles and families.
  • Develop DoD common goals for the 21st century that promote a sense of belonging and service.
  • Quality of Life Executive Committee Workplan

    On May 20, 1999, the QoL Executive Committee approved a new workplan. This key action by the committee allows the Department to address QoL holistically and to institutionalize a process to ensure continued improvements to QoL. The workplan is a flexible document that will be amended as required to address grass root concerns and to provide continuous QoL improvement into the 21st century. The plan is prioritized to ensure that the most immediate concerns of active duty members and their families as well as members of the reserve forces and DoD employees are being met.

    Quality of Life Support for Deployed Personnel and Families

    In the high OPTEMPO environment U.S. forces are experiencing, QoL programs are an integral element in meeting mission requirements both on the front lines and at home station. In forward–deployed areas, such as the recent deployment to Kosovo, troops are often restricted because of force protection measures and culturally isolated. In these environments, QoL services are islands of respite for troops to take a break and pursue self–improvement goals such as education or personal fitness. Most base camps allow for direct links to home thus allowing families to stay in touch via e–mail. This is a very popular tool. During a recent six–month deployment, the USS Carl Vinson counted approximately 3.3 million e–mails between the ship and family and friends.

    In recognition of the importance that QoL services play during deployments, the FY 1999 Emergency Supplemental provided funding for the following quality of life initiatives:

  • Morale, welfare, and recreation equipment and programs to forces deployed to Bosnia and Southwest Asia.
  • Interconnectivity hardware to expand and enhance communications capability between families and deployed service members.
  • Respite child care and youth support for families of deployed personnel.
  • Library materials and off–duty education materials for deployed personnel.
  • Entertainment performances overseas.
  • Lifelines Internet System—a computer–based QoL information support system particularly helpful for families of deployed and geographically separated members.

  • Unique Reserve Component Challenges

    Service in the National Guard and Reserve requires members to balance a full–time civilian career with military service requirements and family and community commitments. The increased use of the Guard and Reserve has resulted in many reservists spending more time away from their full–time civilian employment and family to meet military obligations. Reservists also face the real possibility of being involuntarily called to active duty for extended periods. This creates unique quality of life concerns for reservists and their families. Many of the reserve–unique needs are related to mission, function, and particularly location. To address these needs, the Quality of Life Executive Committee recently chartered a Total Force Support Working Group, which is working on developing access to affordable health care, local family support systems, assistance with employer support issues, family friendly leave policies, and job sharing and telecommuting opportunities.

    Preparing the Military Communities for the 21st Century

    OVERALL FUNDING PROFILE - MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE

    Military communities build esprit de corps and a sense of belonging; they are the military’s hometowns. The FY 2001 budget reflects the Department’s strong commitment to its QoL triad of compensation, medical, and community and housing programs.

    FAMILY HOUSING AND BARRACKS

    The Department continued pursuing its goal to eliminate inadequate family housing units by 2010 and eliminate permanent party gang latrine barracks by 2008. The FY 2000 budget request included $636 million to replace or revitalize approximately 5,400 inadequate military family housing units and $2.9 billion to lease, operate, and maintain family housing units. DoD’s developing housing privatization program remains critical to achieving the 2010 goal by leveraging federal resources with private sector capital. The budget request also included $780 million to eliminate over 11,000 inadequate unaccompanied housing bed spaces. The unaccompanied housing program is on track to meet its 2008 goal.

    FAMILY SUPPORT

    Family support is another integral part of the Department’s strategy to maintain a ready force. In FY 1999, as part of its ongoing efforts to address emerging family issues, DoD began transforming its principal family program outreach vehicle, the Military Family Resource Center, from a library to a true national clearing house. Studies show family satisfaction with military life plays an important role in retention. The Department also launched two family well–being initiatives addressing special health and or medical needs and reserve family readiness.

  • In the special needs arena, the Department is conducting an in–depth organizational analysis of the program. This assessment may lead to reengineering service delivery and other important aspects of the special needs program.
  • The Offices of the Assistant Secretaries for Force Management Policy and Reserve Affairs formed a partnership to create a strategic plan for reserve family readiness through 2006. The plan will address the increasing importance of family readiness in the reserve components as reservists are called upon more frequently and for longer periods to support military requirements.
  • In addition, in response to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, the Department is creating a joint military/civilian Domestic Violence Task Force. The task force would:

    ·· Develop a strategic plan to improve DoD’s response to domestic violence.

    ·· Examine issues of victim safety, military discipline (as it relates to domestic violence), training for commanders, and coordination with civilian authorities.

    ·· Review DoD research and future demonstration projects relating to domestic violence, and recommend further topics for research in this area.

    ECONOMIC WELL–BEING

    Military family economic well–being initiatives focused on the related issues of relocation and employment assistance. The Department contracted with a major relocation information company to provide specific information on housing, education, climate, medical, and other important data about the communities surrounding U.S. military installations. This Web–based service supplements the Department’s Standard Installation Topic Exchange Service with detailed demographic information and calculators to determine mortgage and other living costs. In addition, FY 1999 saw the culmination of three major spouse employment initiatives. Two, three–year pilot programs ended in September 1999: the Spouse Employment Demonstration Program and the DoD/Small Business Administration Partnership (which provided entrepreneurial training to military spouses).

    CHILDREN AND YOUTH

    The DoD child care system encompasses child development centers, family child care, school–age care programs, and resource and referral programs. Child care is available at approximately 300 DoD locations, including over 800 centers and 9,900 family child care homes. DoD currently meets 58 percent of the need for DoD child care services, and the Services expect to reach the Department’s goal of 65 percent by 2003. In 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO) completed a study validating that DoD provides quality, affordable child care at a cost comparable to civilian center care. The report found that the DoD child care program cost per child care hour is approximately 7 percent more per hour than civilian centers. GAO, however, acknowledged several legitimate variables that cause military programs to cost slightly more than civilian programs. These include higher accreditation levels for military programs (to date, 89 percent of DoD centers have achieved national accreditation, higher wages, longer hours of operation, and age differentials (more infants and toddlers). The Department is on track to achieve 100 percent accreditation in 2000.

    Military youth issues came to the forefront in FY 1999. The Department published The Strategic Youth Action Plan, which provides a road map for youth policy and programs into the 21st century. The Department predicts this plan will have a major impact on every facet of military youth programs. Military youth programs continued to pursue partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. These partnerships grant military youth programs access to Boys & Girls Club training programs, program assistance, and allow military youth to participate in national Boys & Girls Club events and competitions. The Services will be 100 percent affiliated by 2002.

    MORALE, WELFARE, AND RECREATION

    The Department provides MWR programs to support the readiness of the force and the retention of valued service members. MWR programs serve both a peacetime and a wartime function. At home stations they are in many cases the most visible programs and provide the most tangible evidence that the leadership cares about quality of life. In wartime or during deployments, MWR programs are the lifeline for after duty activity for troops, providing both respite from arduous conditions and a cultural link to America and a link to their homes.

    The changing nature of recreational pursuits requires the Department to have programs that are adaptive, targeted, and responsive to the service member. The Department has responded to the changing nature of recreation service delivery today with a vision to provide comparable MWR programs and activities across Services and installations, and contribute to readiness and the development of strong, self–reliant, and resilient service members, civilians, and families. Technology is also contributing to the changing nature of recreation today in the Department. Examples of this change are high–tech offerings, such as the Cyber Net Cafe at Naval Station Norfolk, that allows service members to have lunch, surf the Internet, and read the latest bestsellers, and physical fitness centers that use smart cards to customize training programs.

    To position these programs to provide strong community support, the Department is pursuing the following strategic goals:

  • Modernize and upgrade MWR programs, with an immediate focus on physical fitness and library programs. The Department launched Operation Be Fit, a special initiative to improve fitness programs, increase individual participation in fitness activities, and educate the military community on the benefits of an active lifestyle. From a Defense Department point of view, DoD gains an increase in productivity and decreased absenteeism, a more physically and mentally capable military force, lower health care costs, and improved quality of life within the military community. On January 25, 1999, the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management Policy, signed a policy memorandum establishing mandatory core standards for DoD MWR physical fitness centers. Additionally, the Department is developing uniform physical fitness standards and test methods for all Services. The Department has an aggressive strategy to improve its libraries. The Department’s vision is for libraries to be modern information hubs with Internet access, that promote educational advancement through lifelong learning, and where people can relax and read their hometown newspaper or favorite magazine. The Department operates 578 libraries of which 266 are land–based recreational libraries. Another 312 libraries provide services aboard ships and submarines. The Department continues to build and renovate libraries and add alternative opportunities for lifelong learning through use of the Internet and other delivery methods. The Department is adding communication lines to increase Internet access, computer hardware access to include CD–ROM drives and software, and access to standard library databases and computer systems that interface with other government and public libraries.
  • Ensure that MWR programs are funded with the right levels and types of funds. To ensure that program management encourages efficient operations, the Department conducted an evaluation of the results of the congressionally–directed Uniform Resource Demonstration (URD) Project. The project allowed appropriated funds authorized for MWR programs to be spent using the laws and regulations applicable to nonappropriated funds. This test was conducted at six installations. DoD found that implementation of the URD concept yielded overall positive results for MWR programs and supports continued pursuit of the unified funding concept on a larger scale.
  • Improve MWR management. MWR programs are arranged in three categories: Category A - mission sustaining activities, Category B - community support activities, and Category C - revenue generating activities. Programs receive appropriated fund support based upon their relationship to the military mission. In 1995, the Department established funding standards to ensure an adequate appropriated fund base for these programs. The military departments have made steady progress in achieving these standards. MWR accounts increased overall by $47 million in the FY 2000 budget.
  • Continue robust MWR support of deployed forces. DoD is committed to continuing robust MWR support for its deployed forces. MWR specialists in Kosovo established temporary fitness and television areas, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores are providing for service members’ basic needs.

  • COMMISSARIES

    The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) operates a worldwide system of over 290 commissaries that provide quality groceries at cost, plus a 5 percent surcharge, to active duty military members, retirees, members of the National Guard and Reserve (limited access), and their families. In 1999, DeCA successfully expanded commissary access for reservists from 12 to 24 visits per year. Important to both recruiting and retention, the commissary provides military members and families a sense of belonging, average savings of 25 percent, and are consistently cited as major factors in improving quality of life. Since its formation in 1992, DeCA has achieved major savings in appropriations without impacting the level of service or savings to the troops. DeCA has already significantly improved operating efficiency and continues to seek opportunities to lower costs and improve customer service. During 2000, the Department will complete a patron survey to identify the service and merchandise that commissary patrons most desire.

    MILITARY EXCHANGES

    At home in the United States, or abroad, the exchanges meet the needs of service members and their families with a broad range of goods and services. Ranging from toothpaste to lawn mowers, from diapers to auto parts, and from hamburgers by the flight line to hot lunches in overseas DoD schools, the exchanges’ products and services are there for America’s military community. Much like business cooperatives owned and operated by service members, the exchanges’ cash dividends help fund important MWR activities that enhance the quality of life of service members and their families. In FY 1998, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service funded $97.5 million for 33 major quality of life construction projects. To ensure DoD continues to provide the best exchange benefits possible, the Department chartered a definitive study to determine the benefits, costs, and requirements of integrating the operations of the three separate exchange systems. As the decisions resulting from this effort are made, in consultation with Congress, the Department will gauge its efforts by the most important criteria, whether they improve the exchange benefit for service members.

    RELIGIOUS MINISTRIES

    Chaplains serve as a visible reminder of the holy. They provide for the free exercise of religion for all service members and their families. This includes offering worship opportunities, pastoral care and counseling, religious education, ministry of presence, and emergency and sacramental ministrations, both in accordance with their respective ecclesiastical endorsements and in accommodation of the religious rights and needs of all service members. Chaplains are the primary advisors to the military commander in the areas of religion, religious accommodation, and moral/ethical issues, and also assist in morale and quality of life matters. Essential to the life and work of military communities, the chaplaincy works in close coordination with family support, medical, and quality of life programs. The chaplaincy is an embedded and integral part of the operational structure and participates fully in global deployments and commitments.

    OFF DUTY/VOLUNTARY EDUCATION

    The Department provides academic counseling, testing, and college degree programs through education centers on nearly 300 military installations around the world, thereby operating one of the largest continuing education programs in the world. In addition to classroom instruction, courses are available using various technology–supported modes of instructional delivery. Service members receive financial assistance to cover up to 75 percent of tuition costs. In FY 1999, the Department successfully implemented a uniform DoD–wide tuition assistance policy. For the first time, all service members, regardless of branch of service, received the same level of tuition assistance support. Participation in this program remains strong, with about 600,000 enrollments in undergraduate and graduate courses and 33,000 degrees awarded during FY 1999.

    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE EDUCATION ACTIVITY

    The DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) operates 224 schools overseas and on military installations in selected areas of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territory of Guam. For school year 1999–2000, DoDEA will educate approximately 110,325 students—74,348 in the DoD Dependents Schools (DoDDS) overseas and 35,977 in the Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States. DoDEA supports the President’s national education agenda through its 1995–2000 Community Strategic Plan by successfully raising educational standards and advancing the organization to new levels of excellence:

  • Student Achievement. For the first time, it is possible to assess the performance of all students in DoD schools using the same standardized test. DoDEA students performed well above the national average (50th percentile) in all subject areas at all grade levels.
  • Closing the Gap. Tremendous progress is also being made in reducing the minority student achievement gap in DoDEA. Of particular note were fourth and fifth grade students who participated in the National Assessment of Education Progress test. DoDDS fourth graders ranked fifth among the 43 states for reading. DoDEA African American, Asian, and Hispanic students ranked among the best in the nation when compared to all minority students taking the test.
  • Technology. DoDEA continues its implementation of the four pillars of technology (computers, connectivity, competence, and curriculum). DoDEA’s funding strategy for the next three fiscal years focuses on installing full–school local area networks in every school.
  • Full–day Kindergarten. Starting children in school early ensures greater student success in later years. DoDEA has committed additional funds to invest in student success by expanding full–day kindergarten to overseas schools over the next five years. This effort, which supports DoDEA’s school readiness goal, requires facilities renovations, teacher recruitment, and training. Full–day kindergarten classes are in session at 43 DoDDS for the 1999–2000 school year.
  • Reduced Class Size. DoDEA is taking steps to reduce class size to 18 students in grades 1–3. This is another major improvement that supports DoDEA’s student achievement and safe schools goals. This initiative also requires facilities renovations, teacher recruitment, and training. The reduced class size initiative was implemented at 43 schools (18 overseas schools and 25 domestic schools) in the 1999–2000 school year.
  • School Facilities Modernization. Because both the full–day kindergarten and reduced class size initiatives require major facilities renovations, DoDEA is using this as a springboard to modernize its school facilities. The Department is requesting $34.7 million for nine school construction projects in FY 2001.

  • HEALTH CARE

    The Department of Defense’s health care responsibilities are complex and continually evolving. The Military Health System (MHS) serves 8.1 million beneficiaries and delivers health care worldwide in 98 hospitals and over 480 clinics. The MHS is committed to a philosophy of excellence in its dual mission to provide force health protection and quality, cost–effective health care benefits for all eligible beneficiaries. DoD requires substantial resources to accomplish its health responsibilities. The FY 2000 appropriation for the Military Health System is $16.7 billion, which represents 6.1 percent of the defense program.

    Health Care Initiatives

    DEFENSE MEDICAL OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE

    Health care throughout the nation is rapidly becoming a major budgetary consideration. Factors driving this heightened attention are many and often consequential. Within DoD, health care requirements and costs have intrinsic implications for all military operations. As a result, the Defense Resources Board directed formation of the Defense Medical Oversight Committee to provide oversight of the Defense Health Program and make recommendations to the Board on definitions of the health benefit and health resourcing issues.

    REENGINEERING THE MILITARY HEALTH SYSTEM

    The leadership within military medicine recognized the need for cultural change and significant improvements in operations, business practices, and beneficiary satisfaction. This recognition coupled with congressional direction in FY 1998 led to the development of a comprehensive plan, referred to as the High Performance MHS Optimization Plan, which will be phased in over a five–year period. Military Treatment Facility (MTF) optimization is the core of the plan. The MTF is the main focus of health care delivery, the foundation for medical readiness, and the most cost–effective source for delivering most health services. MTF optimization is dependent on enrollment, appropriate resourcing, and implementing a population health improvement strategy that shifts the focus of health care delivery from intervention to prevention.

    HEALTH PROMOTION AND PREVENTIVE HEALTH

    The goals of health promotion and preventive health are a constantly fit and ready force, a benchmark health care delivery system, and healthy communities at home and abroad, in peacetime and in conflict.

    The MHS, in seeking to reduce health risks and optimize health status for beneficiary populations, has:

  • Begun using self–reported health status instruments.
  • Implemented system–wide use of Put Prevention into Practice.
  • Sought to meet and exceed Healthy People 2000 (2010) goals.
  • Made great strides in maximizing individual and population health and fitness.

  • DoD also organized a flag officer level Prevention, Safety, and Health Promotion Council to help prioritize health and fitness objectives and implement DoD–wide plans to accomplish those objectives. Examples include deglamorization, reduction, and elimination of tobacco use; promotion of responsible alcohol use and elimination of alcohol abuse; reduction of non–battle injuries; and reduction and elimination of sexually transmitted diseases. Other initiatives include suicide prevention and the identification of combat stress and appropriate prevention and intervention strategies.

    Two initiatives in which the Department has taken action are the policy for hepatitis C and the Global Emerging Infections System (GEIS). Instead of a Total Force mandate to screen for the hepatitis C virus, DoD applied scientific evidence and promulgated sound public health policy based on national policy as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This evidenced–based approach showed that in the military targeted screening would be most effective.

    Since 1996, GEIS has served as a centrally coordinated tri–Service program that improves DoD epidemiological capabilities. The GEIS five–year strategic plan that parallels the five–year plan developed by the CDC has four goals: surveillance; systems research, development, and integration; response; and training and capacity building.

    TRICARE

    TRICARE is the military’s health care benefit program that combines military and civilian resources into a regional, integrated health care delivery system.

    The TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) was established on February 10, 1998, by the Defense Reform Initiative as a major reengineering of the management of the Department’s health care benefit program. This initiative separated operational activities from the corporate–level policy and oversight role of Office of the Secretary of Defense. TMA is responsible for improving and enhancing the implementation of TRICARE worldwide and for ensuring the availability and affordability of high–quality, accessible health care to DoD beneficiaries.

    Improving military health care is the number one priority of the Chairman of the Joint Staff and the Secretary of Defense. The FY 2001 President’s Budget adds funding for two new benefits for active duty family members. TRICARE Prime remote will improve access to health care and lower out–of–pocket costs to active duty members who do not live near military treatment facilities. Also, co–pays for all active duty family members will be eliminated.

    Significant improvements implemented in 1999 include enhanced benefits, reduced beneficiary costs, improved program administration, and expanded TRICARE Family Member Dental Program overseas. More TRICARE improvements are proposed, including initiatives to:

  • Eliminate co–payments for active duty family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime and receiving civilian care.
  • Expand TRICARE Prime Remote to active duty family members living far away from military treatment facilities, which will improve their access to care and cut their costs.
  • Improve contracting practices to enhance access to care, ease enrollment, and provide a more uniform benefit.
  • Optimize the utilization of military treatment facilities to bolster medical readiness and increase access to such facilities.

  • DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS FOR SENIOR BENEFICIARIES

    DoD, in recognizing its commitment to offer a health program for military beneficiaries aged 65 and older, is exploring and testing several viable options. Ongoing demonstrations include TRICARE Senior and the MacDill project. Three additional demonstrations will begin in FY 2000: enrollment in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, TRICARE as a supplement to Medicare, and enhanced pharmacy coverage.

    With full implementation of these demonstration programs in 2000, DoD will have projects in place in 20 locations, affecting about 100,000 over–65 military beneficiaries. From these demonstrations, the Department will evaluate beneficiary satisfaction, program costs and feasibility, and other factors to determine the best approach for meeting the health care needs of the military’s Medicare–eligible beneficiaries.

    RESERVE HEALTH CARE ISSUES

    Health care has been a significant concern of reserve component members and their families. Guardsmen and reservists want to be assured that if they are injured or become ill while performing military service they will receive medical and dental care and that their family will have access to health care as authorized by current law. Recent legislation regarding access to health care and fair and equitable treatment with respect to possible out–of–pocket expenses provides that assurance.

    The Secretary of Defense can now authorize reserve component members to be called to active duty with their consent in conjunction with a DoD health care study, to be evaluated for disability or to receive authorized medical care. Additionally, reserve component members may be ordered to active duty with their consent to receive medical care for an injury, illness, or disease incurred or aggravated during inactive duty training. Also, the Department has been authorized to combine the Selected Reserve dental plan, which suffered from low enrollment because of the limited scope of covered services, a small provider network and lack of a family enrollment option, with the active duty family member dental program to address the problems. Finally, the Secretary of Defense now has the discretionary authority to waive the TRICARE Extra and Standard deductibles for reserve component members called to active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation.

    INFORMATION MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

    The MHS Information Management/Information Technology Program continued to be a leader in terms of implementation of provisions of Y2K preparedness and delivering effective information technology products to the field. The MHS Year 2000 Program made particularly noteworthy accomplishments including:

  • Completed on time the repair and fielding of all MHS managed information systems.
  • Joined with the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide biomedical equipment Y2K compliance information for medical institutions’ use worldwide.
  • Partnered with TRICARE contractors and electronic commerce—pharmaceutical suppliers to perform Y2K interface testing for mission critical processes.

  • The MHS Information Management/Information Technology Program brought together its acquisition, development, and maintenance functions under a single Program Executive Office. Significant resource savings and efficiencies resulted from this consolidation.

    The program accelerated development and deployment of the computer–based Patient Record with initiation of alpha testing at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii; worldwide deployment is projected to commence third quarter, FY 2000. Field–testing also began on the prototype for the Personal Information Carrier, a dog–tag style device that will allow collection and transmittal of critical medical information in a battlefield environment. Additionally, the Preventive Health Care Application, which supports the transition in military medicine from episodic to preventive care, was field tested at several military treatment facilities.

    CONCLUSION

    The mission of DoD is to provide military forces trained and ready to deter war and, should deterrence fail, fight and win the nation’s wars. The primary personnel mission is to attract, develop, and retain the high–quality service men and women and civilian employees who are essential to maintaining a high state of readiness and to treat service members and civilian employees fairly. Service members of all grades will continue to receive high quality, realistic training, exceptional educational opportunities, genuine equal opportunity, challenging worldwide assignments, and excellent advancement and leadership opportunities. The Department will continue to recruit the high–quality personnel necessary to keep U.S. forces ready and to maintain the proper mix of junior, mid–career, and senior service members.

    A country’s national security is only as strong as the people who stand watch over it. The United States, in the 21st century, will depend on a high–quality, well trained, highly motivated, and appropriately rewarded workforce comprised of service members and civilian employees. DoD’s personnel and quality of life policies, programs, and plans support such a force and, in turn, make its personnel the strong link in the chain of national security.

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