Index



Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee
on Personnel, Committee on Armed Services, U.S.  Senate

September 1998

MILITARY ATTRITION - BETTER DATA,
COUPLED WITH POLICY CHANGES, COULD
HELP THE SERVICES REDUCE EARLY
SEPARATIONS

GAO/NSIAD-98-213

Military Attrition

(703220)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  AFQT - Armed Forces Qualification Test
  DMDC - Defense Manpower Data Center
  DOD - Department of Defense
  GAO - General Accounting Office
  TRADOC - Training and Doctrine Command

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Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-280587

September 15, 1998


The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne
Chairman
The Honorable Max Cleland
Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Personnel
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate

This report responds to the Subcommittee's request that we analyze
historical attrition rates for enlisted personnel who serve at least
6 months but leave military service before completing their first
contract terms.  Specifically, we determined (1) the rate and timing
of attrition during enlistees' first terms, (2) the extent of the
Department of Defense's investment in recruiting and training
first-term enlistees, (3) reasons for first-term attrition after
training, (4) servicemembers' perceptions of quality-of-life factors
that contribute to attrition, and (5) actions the Department of
Defense and the services are taking to reduce enlistees' attrition. 

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense,
the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force and the Commandant of the
Marine Corps.  We will also make copies available to others upon
request. 

Please contact me at (202) 512-5140 if you or your staff have any
questions concerning this report.  Other major contributors to this
report are listed in appendix IV. 

Mark E.  Gebicke
Director, Military Operations and
 Capabilities Issues


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
============================================================ Chapter 0


   PURPOSE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1

In January 1997, GAO reported that each year, around 25,000 enlisted
personnel are being separated from the services in their first 6
months, during or shortly after they complete basic training.\1 The
Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on
Armed Services, Subcommittee on Personnel, asked that GAO similarly
analyze historical attrition rates for enlisted personnel who serve
at least 6 months but leave military service before completing their
first contract terms.  Specifically, GAO determined (1) the rate and
timing of attrition during enlistees' first terms, (2) the extent of
the Department of Defense's (DOD) investment in recruiting and
training first-term enlistees, (3) reasons for first-term attrition
after training, (4) servicemembers' perceptions of quality-of-life
factors that contribute to attrition, and (5) actions DOD and the
services are taking to reduce enlistees' attrition.  GAO also agreed
to provide attrition data for enlistees by educational background,
Armed Forces Qualification Test score, age at enlistment, gender, and
race/ethnic group (see app.  I). 


--------------------
\1 Military Attrition:  DOD Could Save Millions by Better Screening
Enlisted Personnel (GAO/NSIAD-97-39, Jan.  6, 1997). 


   BACKGROUND
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:2

The military services recruit hundreds of thousands of new enlistees
each year.  Over the course of their careers, enlistees sign
contracts that define their length of service for the duration of
each contract.  For the first term of service, these contracts
generally cover between 2 and 6 years, with the typical contract
being for 4 years.  While most enlistees complete the terms of their
first contract, many fail to do so.  These persons are counted as
"attrition" and are separated from military service.  The reasons for
separation vary and are documented in official discharge papers
through the use of separation program designator codes.  The Defense
Manpower Data Center (DMDC) is responsible for maintaining data on
the attrition rates of servicemembers. 

While GAO developed historical attrition data, it focused its
detailed analysis of attrition rates and the reasons for attrition on
enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year 1993 in order to
track all enlistees up to 48 months later, or fiscal year 1997 (the
latest year for which data was available).  These enlistees consisted
of about 203,000 personnel, including about 175,000 men and 28,000
women.  Of this group, 72,670 did not complete their first terms. 
GAO also interviewed a judgmental sample of 254 first-term enlistees
and 41 supervisors to gain insight into underlying causes for
attrition. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:3

First-term attrition has been a long-standing and complex problem for
the services.  While all four services are concerned about attrition,
they have made few formal policy changes aimed at reducing attrition
in specific target populations.  Although the services collect survey
data to assess attitudes about military service and quality of life,
they do not use this data to analyze why separations are occurring or
to formulate policy changes or actions aimed at reducing early
attrition. 

Between fiscal year 1982-93, 31.7 percent of all enlistees did not
complete their first terms of service:  11 percent of enlistees were
separated during their first 6 months, and 20.7 percent between their
7th and 48th month.  For Army, Navy, and Air Force enlistees who
entered the services in fiscal year 1993, attrition rates were higher
than they had been in over a decade.  These reported attrition rates
would be even higher if they included all persons who did not
complete their first terms.  DOD's data on attrition does not include
all enlistees allowed to separate early from the military, for
example, to allow the services to meet mandated personnel levels or
to allow enlistees to attend school.  First-term attrition is costly
in that DOD now estimates the services' recruiting and training
investment in each enlistee during the first term at an average of
$35,532.  Recruiting and training cost estimates were somewhat lower
in fiscal year 1993.  Using the fiscal year 1993 cost estimates, GAO
calculates that the services spent $1.3 billion on the 72,670
enlistees who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993 and departed prematurely.  Because these enlistees were
separated early, the services did not get a full return on their
investment. 

Official reasons for the separation of enlistees who entered the
services in fiscal year 1993 varied by gender and by service.  For
example, higher percentages of enlisted men than women were separated
for misconduct, drugs, and alcoholism.  On the other hand, the
leading reason given for female attrition was pregnancy, and higher
percentages of enlisted women were separated for medical conditions,
performance problems, and parenthood.  The Marine Corps separated a
greater percentage of enlistees for medical problems than the other
services did; the Army separated a higher percentage for performance
problems; and the Marine Corps and the Navy separated higher
percentages for drug use.  Variances in the types of separations
among the services indicate that the services interpret separation
codes differently, that their separation policies differ, that the
services have very different attrition problems, or some combination
of these explanations.  In its 1997 report on attrition from basic
training, GAO recommended ways for DOD to improve the use of these
separation codes to build a more complete database on reasons for
servicewide attrition.  GAO's recommendations have been incorporated
into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998
(P.L.  105-85), and DOD has begun to comply with these legislative
requirements.  GAO's current work reaffirms the need for the
consistent use of separation codes.  During interviews with 254
first-term enlistees and 41 supervisors, most mentioned
quality-of-life issues as drivers of first-term attrition.  Although
all the services survey their personnel on quality-of-life issues,
these surveys are not targeted to first-term enlistees or used to
determine underlying reasons that this particular group may be
seeking ways out of completing their contract terms. 

All four services are concerned about attrition, and the Army and the
Air Force have set numerical targets for reducing it.  Two studies
indicate that positive leadership--such as the command emphasis now
being placed on attrition--can result in an increase in the
percentage of enlisted personnel who complete their first-term
contracts.  However, GAO found that the services did not always have
adequate data on the exact reasons for separation and had only rarely
made formal policy changes directed at populations the services
wished to target for remedial action.  Without such data and formal
policy changes, numerical targets will be arbitrary, and success in
reducing attrition may either be coincidental or result in the
failure to discharge enlistees who really should be separated.  The
Army's recent policy change to no longer allow persons to separate
voluntarily because of performance problems illustrates the benefit
of targeting a specific group for remedial action.  Namely, the Army
can now document how many enlistees it has rehabilitated and why. 
Finally, allowing many enlistees to easily separate with honorable
discharges may inadvertently serve as a disincentive for them to
persevere. 


   PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4


      ABOUT 21 PERCENT OF
      ENLISTEES ARE SEPARATED
      AFTER TRAINING
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.1

Data maintained by DMDC indicates that over the past 12 years, the
attrition rate of enlistees who did not complete their first terms of
service averaged 31.7 percent:  11 percent left before they had
completed 6 months of service, and 20.7 percent left after 6 months,
when most had completed training.  For Navy, Air Force, and Army
enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year 1993, attrition
rates were higher than they had been in over a decade.  The Navy's
rate was 35.8 percent; the Air Force's was 32.5 percent; and the
Army's was 39.3 percent.  The Marine Corps' rate was 31.5 percent,
continuing a 3-year decline that began in fiscal year 1990.  For all
services' 202,908 enlistees in fiscal year 1993, 72,670 did not
complete their first terms of service.  Of those who left, 45,046
personnel were discharged between their 7th and 48th month. 

DOD does not have complete data on the magnitude of its attrition
losses because currently reported attrition rates do not include all
enlistees who were voluntarily released from the services before the
end of their first terms.  The services' standard policy has been
that enlistees are not to be released more than 90 days before their
contract terms are due to expire.  However, during downsizing, all
services allowed some first-term personnel to separate much earlier. 
The Air Force and the Navy released large numbers of persons early to
meet mandated end strengths, among other reasons.  Not all of these
early releases were counted as attrition.  Though voluntary early
release programs might have been cost-effective downsizing tools,
such early releases clearly result in a loss in the services'
significant recruiting and training investment. 

DMDC data indicates that for enlistees who entered the services in
fiscal year 1993, the Navy separated 2,943 persons more than 90 days
before the end of their first contract terms.  The Air Force
separated 1,095 enlistees more than 90 days early.  Adding these
separated enlistees to the Navy's overall attrition rate of 35.8
percent increases it by 4.7 percentage points to 40.5 percent and
likewise increases the Air Force's rate of 32.5 percent by 3.5
percentage points to 36 percent. 


      SERVICES RECEIVED ONLY A
      PARTIAL RETURN ON THEIR
      INVESTMENT IN THE RECRUITING
      AND TRAINING OF ENLISTEES
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.2

Separating thousands of enlistees early means that the services
receive only a partial return on the significant investment they make
in recruiting and training these enlistees.  According to DOD, in
fiscal year 1993, the average cost of recruiting and training each
enlistee ranged from $19,143 to $24,885, depending on the service. 
Using these figures, GAO estimates that the services invested $1.3
billion in the 72,670 enlistees who joined the services in fiscal
year 1993 and did not complete their first contract terms.  According
to a DOD official, about two-thirds, or $0.8 billion, of this cost
was for enlistee salaries. 

Updated figures provided by DOD indicate that recruiting and training
costs have risen since fiscal year 1993.  In fiscal year 1998, the
average cost of recruiting an enlistee was $6,732, and the average
cost of training was an additional $28,800, for a total of $35,532. 
This entire cost is invested in enlistees as they are recruited and
during their basic and initial training.  That is, this investment is
generally made during an enlistee's first
6 months of service.  Only after enlistees have been assigned to jobs
do the services begin to receive returns on their investment. 

These figures include the cost of the entire recruiting and training
infrastructure, and it is therefore not feasible to expect to save
$35,532 for each enlistee who is not separated.  However, these
figures demonstrate the magnitude of the cost of recruiting and
training hundreds of thousands of new recruits each year and the loss
to the services when attrition rates are high.  It would be expected
that if there were a significant reduction in attrition, the
recruiting and training infrastructure could be reduced, resulting in
major savings. 


      OFFICIAL REASONS FOR
      SEPARATION VARY BY GENDER
      AND BY SERVICE
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.3

Official separation codes provide general categories of discharge,
but they record only one of many possible reasons for separation. 
These separation codes indicate that over 70 percent of men in this
group were separated for misconduct, medical conditions, performance
problems, or drug use.  Over 71 percent of women in this group were
separated for pregnancy, medical problems, misconduct, performance
problems, or parenthood. 

Collecting better data on why enlistees are being separated is key to
the services' ability to craft policies that increase the proportion
of first-term personnel who complete their contractual obligations. 
In a 1997 report on attrition from basic training, GAO made
recommendations to DOD and the services on ways to improve the use of
separation codes to build a database for DOD to manage attrition. 
These recommendations were included in the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (P.L.  105-85), and DOD is now
working to implement them.  GAO's current work reaffirms the need for
such a servicewide database on reasons for separation.  Differences
in the types of separation by service continue to suggest that the
services have different separation policies, that they have different
attrition problems, that they are still inconsistently interpreting
separation codes, or some combination of these three explanations. 
For example, separations for medical, performance, and drug problems
varied widely by service.  For enlistees who entered the services in
fiscal year 1993, 34.2 percent of all Marine Corps separations were
for medical problems, but this category represented only 16.1 percent
of Navy separations, 10.2 percent of Army separations, and 5.8
percent of Air Force separations.  While 26.6 percent of all Army
discharges were for performance problems, the Air Force had only 7.2
percent in this category, the Marine Corps 1.2 percent, and the Navy
0.5 percent.  The Navy and the Marine Corps discharged higher
percentages of first-term personnel for drug use.  This type of
discharge represented 14.2 percent of all Marine Corps separations,
13.9 percent of all Navy separations, but only 3.6 percent for the
Air Force and 3 percent for the Army. 

At present, the services have insufficient data to determine whether
some of the enlistees now being separated represent groups that could
be targeted for remedial action.  Examples include persons who are
now being separated for committing minor disciplinary infractions,
failing physical fitness or career development tests, or being
one-time drug users.  Neither do the services have data indicating
whether policies allowing women to voluntarily separate when they
become pregnant are cost-effective.  The Army and the Air Force allow
pregnant women to voluntarily separate upon request, while the Marine
Corps and the Navy leave the decision on whether to separate the
enlistee up to the local commanders. 


      QUALITY-OF-LIFE ISSUES MAY
      BE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF
      EARLY SEPARATION
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.4

During interviews with 254 first-term enlistees and 41 supervisors,
GAO was told that the official reasons listed for separation may not
accurately reflect the true reasons that enlistees separate early. 
In fact, quality-of-life issues may lie at the root of many
separations.  These issues include a perceived erosion of medical and
retirement benefits, advancement opportunities, and pay, coupled with
long hours and difficult and frequent deployments.  GAO found that,
while none of the services currently conducts exit surveys to
enlisted personnel, they all administer surveys that include
questions on servicemembers' perceptions of their quality of life. 

Data now available on the quality-of-life issues underlying attrition
is not tied to the services' efforts to prevent the attrition of
first-term enlistees.  If the services could use the data they
collect from their several surveys on the quality of military life to
prioritize first-term enlistees' concerns, they could focus their
attention on improvements that would have the most impact on reducing
attrition. 


      SERVICES HAVE MADE FEW
      FORMAL POLICY CHANGES TO
      TARGET ENLISTEES THEY WISH
      TO CONSIDER FOR REMEDIAL
      ACTION AFTER TRAINING
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:4.5

For more than a decade, the first-term attrition rate has remained at
about the same level.  During this time, the services have targeted
their recruiting efforts toward enlisting high school diploma
graduates who score in the upper half of the Armed Forces
Qualification Test because they have lower attrition rates than
recruits without these qualifications.  This group continues to show
lower attrition rates than other recruit groups.  However, because
the overwhelming majority of all recruits are now high school
graduates with high aptitude scores, the services must turn their
efforts to finding ways to get more high-quality enlistees to
complete their first terms. 

All services have expressed their concern about first-term attrition,
and the Army and the Air Force have set numerical goals for reducing
it.  However, while research supports the positive effect of such
command emphasis on reducing attrition, GAO believes that setting
numerical goals for reducing attrition without complete information
on its underlying causes or guidance on what specific actions should
be taken to reduce it may turn these goals into arbitrary ceilings. 

While the services have emphasized the importance of reducing
attrition, they have rarely accompanied this emphasis with guidance
to their commanders on what accommodations could be made to target
certain categories of enlistees or on what actions should be taken to
deal with identified problems after training.  One effort that did
include such a formal policy change targeting a particular group of
enlistees demonstrates the effectiveness of this practice:  the
Army's recent decision to no longer allow enlistees to voluntarily
separate because of problems with performance.  In deciding to no
longer routinely permit such voluntary separations, the Army has been
able to assess what impact this policy change has had on this
population. 

GAO's interviews with first-term enlistees, supervisors, and service
officials indicate that there may be certain groups of enlistees who
could be targeted for remedial action.  For example, enlistees who
commit minor disciplinary infractions, who fail physical fitness or
career development tests, who are one-time drug users, or who become
pregnant may simply need to be provided further counseling, optional
testing, other job choices, or remedial training by their
commissioned or noncommissioned officers. 

Lastly, granting honorable discharges to enlistees who deliberately
seek ways out of fulfilling their service commitments may simply
encourage others to do likewise.  One Army unit GAO visited had
already begun to attempt to close these "escape routes" and impose
more punitive measures against certain enlistees, particularly those
found to use drugs.  GAO believes that some enlistees could be
motivated to remain in the service if they knew that there were no
easy ways out of their contracts and that there were serious negative
consequences associated with behavior or performance that warranted
discharge. 


   RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:5

GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense direct the service
secretaries to take the following actions: 

  -- When reporting first-term attrition rates, include as a separate
     category the numbers of first-term personnel released more than
     90 days before the end of their contract terms. 

  -- Use existing quality-of-life surveys or create new ones to (1)
     collect information on the factors contributing to first-term
     enlistees' separation and (2) identify quality-of-life
     initiatives aimed at reducing the attrition of first-term
     personnel. 

  -- Continually emphasize to all commissioned and noncommissioned
     officers the costs of first-term attrition, the difficulty of
     acquiring new enlistees to replace early losses, and the
     importance of providing positive leadership in targeting
     first-term enlistees who could be encouraged to complete their
     contractual obligations. 

  -- Collect more complete data on specific groups of enlistees whom
     the services wish to target for remedial action and issue
     guidance and formal policy changes to local commanders
     indicating what specific actions--such as more counseling,
     optional testing, further job choices, or remedial training--can
     be taken to prevent the early discharge of these targeted
     groups.  Possibilities for targeting include enlistees now being
     separated for minor disciplinary infractions, failure to pass
     physical fitness tests and career development tests, one-time
     drug use, and pregnancy. 

  -- Reassess the appropriateness of providing favorable types of
     discharge to enlistees whose behavior or performance led to
     their early separation and ensure that proper incentives exist
     to encourage enlistees to complete their first terms. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:6

In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with GAO's
findings and recommendations.  (DOD's comments are presented in their
entirety in app.  III.) DOD agreed to direct the services to (1)
review their 90-day release policies and the exceptions granted to
those policies, (2) prepare a report on quality-of-life issues that
could be addressed to reduce attrition, (3) provide local commanders
with guidance and formal policy changes related to specific types of
attrition the services target for remedial action, (4) reassess the
appropriateness of providing favorable types of discharges to
enlistees whose behavior or performance led to their early separation
to ensure that proper incentives exist to encourage enlistees to
complete their first terms, and (5) prepare a report by October 1999
documenting service initiatives related to GAO's recommendations. 


INTRODUCTION
============================================================ Chapter 1

Since the beginning of the all-volunteer force in 1973, the military
services have recruited hundreds of thousands of new enlistees each
year.  While these enlistees are required to sign contracts
committing them to remain on active duty for a specified period of
time, the services have found that many do not fulfill this
commitment.  In 1997, we reported on the reasons that enlistees do
not complete their first 6 months of service.  For this follow-on
report, we have analyzed why enlistees who successfully complete
their first 6 months of service are separated before their contract
terms have expired. 


   ATTRITION RATE IS THE
   PERCENTAGE OF ENLISTEES WHO DO
   NOT COMPLETE THEIR CONTRACTUAL
   OBLIGATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:1

Before new recruits are sent to basic training, they are required to
take an enlistment oath and sign a contract to serve one of the
military services for a specified period of time, generally between 2
and 6 years.  For enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year
1993, about 87 percent signed contracts for 2, 3, or 4 years.  The
breakdown of contract length is as follows:  8.2 percent for 2 years,
15 percent for 3 years, 64.2 percent for
4 years, 4.1 percent for 5 years, and 8.4 percent for 6 years. 

DOD defines attrition as the failure of an enlistee to complete his
or her contractual obligation.  Some attrition occurs during basic
training, which lasts from 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the service. 
Some attrition occurs during initial skill technical training, which
lasts for a few weeks to more than 1 year, depending on the
enlistee's occupation.  Finally, some attrition occurs after
enlistees have reported to their first duty assignments.  By the
6-month point in enlistees' first terms, most have completed both
basic and initial skill training and have been assigned to their
first duty stations, though this is not the case for enlistees whose
occupations require longer and more extensive training.  Two examples
include the Air Force's pararescue occupation, which requires 55
weeks of training beyond basic training and the Navy's electronics
technician rating, which requires
36.7 weeks of training after basic. 


   COMPOSITION OF ENLISTEES WHO
   ENTERED THE SERVICES IN FISCAL
   YEAR 1993
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:2

In fiscal year 1993, 202,908 enlistees without prior military service
signed first-term contracts.  Of this number, 174,555 (86 percent)
were men, and 28,353 (14 percent) were women.  Women represented 22
percent of Air Force enlistees, 16 percent of Army enlistees, 13
percent of Navy enlistees, and 5 percent of Marine Corps enlistees. 
In terms of quality measures, 91.5 percent of all enlistees held high
school diplomas, and 71.1 percent scored in the upper half of the
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT).  (More data on this group's
demographics is contained in app.  I.)

In presenting our detailed analysis of first-term attrition, we track
all enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year 1993 up until
the end of fiscal year 1997, 48 months later, since this is the
latest available data.  For enlistees with 2-, 3-, and 4-year
contracts, we counted as attrition those enlistees who did not
complete the full length of their contracts.  For enlistees with 5-
or 6-year contracts, we counted as attrition those enlistees who did
not complete 48 months of their contracts. 


   OUR PREVIOUS WORK IN THE AREA
   OF ATTRITION AND RECRUITING
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:3

In January 1997, we reported that one-third of all first-term
enlistees do not complete their first terms of service and that a
significant portion of this attrition occurs in the enlistees' first
6 months.\1 In our report, we made recommendations to the Department
of Defense (DOD) and the services on how they could improve their (1)
use of separation codes to better analyze attrition, (2) recruiter
incentive systems by tying these systems to recruits' successful
completion of basic training, and (3) screening of recruits by adding
and revising medical screening forms and moving all drug testing to
the Military Entrance Processing Commands.  We testified on this work
before the Subcommittee on Personnel, Senate Committee on Armed
Services in March 1997.\2 The recommendations contained in our report
were incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 1998 (P.L.  105-85). 

In January 1998, we issued a more detailed report on recruiter
incentive systems and the selection of recruiters.\3 This work was
also aimed at identifying what could be done to reduce attrition. 
Among our recommendations were for the services to (1) improve the
screening of recruiters to ensure that those selected for recruiting
duty possessed traits characteristic of successful recruiters; (2)
require incoming recruits to undergo physical fitness tests before
they report to basic training to screen out candidates likely to
separate early due to poor physical conditioning; and (3) encourage
the use of quarterly floating goals for recruiters to relieve
pressure on them and to increase their morale and productivity.  In
March 1998, we testified before the Senate Committee on Armed
Services' Subcommittee on Personnel and the House Committee on
National Security's Subcommittee on Military Personnel on how well
the services were managing attrition and the screening of recruiters
and their recruits.\4


--------------------
\1 Military Attrition:  DOD Could Save Millions by Better Screening
Enlisted Personnel (GAO/NSIAD-97-39, Jan.  6, 1997). 

\2 Military Attrition:  Better Screening of Enlisted Personnel Could
Save DOD Millions of Dollars (GAO/T-NSIAD-97-102, Mar.  5, 1997). 

\3 Military Recruiting:  DOD Could Improve Its Recruiter Selection
and Incentive Systems (GAO/NSIAD-98-58, Jan.  30, 1998). 

\4 Military Attrition:  DOD Needs to Better Understand Reasons for
Separation and Improve Recruiting Systems (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-109, Mar. 
4, 1998) and Military Attrition:  DOD Needs to Better Analyze Reasons
for Separation and Improve Recruiting Systems (GAO/T-NSIAD-98-117,
Mar.  12, 1998). 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 1:4

The Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee
on Armed Services' Subcommittee on Personnel asked that we continue
our work in the area of attrition by analyzing the historical
separation rates of enlisted personnel who serve 6 months but leave
military service before completing their first contract terms.  While
we developed some overall historical attrition data, we focused our
detailed analysis on enlistees who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993 and were separated by the end of fiscal year 1997. 
Specifically, we determined (1) the rate and timing of attrition, (2)
the extent of DOD's investment in recruiting and training first-term
enlistees, (3) reasons for attrition after training, (4)
servicemembers' perceptions of quality-of-life factors that
contribute to attrition, and (5) actions DOD and the services are
taking to reduce enlistees' attrition.  We also agreed to provide
attrition data for enlistees by educational background, AFQT score,
age at enlistment, gender, and race/ethnic group (see app.  I). 

To determine historical first-term attrition rates, we obtained data
from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), whose primary purpose
is to support the management needs of the Office of the Under
Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.  The data covered
all enlistees without prior service who entered the military from
fiscal year 1982 through 1993\5 and included the gender, educational
background, age at enlistment, race, AFQT score, occupational code,
and separation code (for those who left the services). 

To ensure a standardized reporting of attrition rates, we measured
attrition at the 48-month point for all enlistees entering the
services from fiscal year 1982 through 1993.  These groups of
enlistees reached their 48-month points of service from fiscal year
1986 through 1997.  Our calculation of attrition did not include the
early separation of enlistees with 5- or 6-year contracts who were
discharged in their final 1 to 2 years of service.  However, because
the majority of first-term contracts are for
4 years, we made our calculation at the 48-month point to include the
most recent data available (fiscal year 1997).  Also, like DMDC, we
did not count as attrition persons allowed to separate before the end
of their terms through early release programs.  Because our method
does not include the attrition of enlistees with 5- or 6-year
contracts who were separated in their final 1 or 2 years of service
and because it does not include separations under early release
programs, our information on attrition rates is somewhat
conservative. 

Although we did not extensively test the reliability of DMDC's
database, we did discuss the Center's computation of attrition rates
with DMDC officials and recalculated these rates ourselves.  Our
recalculated rates were comparable to DMDC's rates.  We also compared
our calculated attrition rates and categories of separation with
information in the services' databases, and officials in each
military service who track attrition verified the accuracy of our
data on reasons for early separation. 

To determine how much the services spend in recruiting and training
each enlistee, we interviewed cost analysts at the Army's Training
and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Fort Monroe, Virginia; the Marine
Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Virginia; the Air Force's
Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas;
and the Navy's Office of the Chief of Naval Education and Training
Command, Pensacola, Florida.  We also discussed the calculation of
the services' cost of recruiting and training enlistees with
officials from the Center for Naval Analyses, the U.S.  Army Cost and
Economic Analysis Center, and the Naval Center for Cost Analysis, as
well as service officials who track attrition.  Because the services
calculate recruiting and training costs differently and because
analyzing the various costing methodologies was beyond the scope of
our review, we formulated costs using data provided to us by
DOD-level officials in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
(Readiness) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Force Management Policy). 

To determine reasons that enlistees were separated between their 7th
and 48th month of service, we first analyzed DMDC data by separation
code.  The separation codes included in DMDC's database are taken
from each servicemember's official discharge form, the DD Form 214,
"Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty."

We then interviewed 254 first-term enlistees and 41 supervisors to
gain insight into root causes for early separation.  Prior to our
site visits, we notified service officials that we wished to
interview first-term enlistees who were (1) in occupations that we
had determined had higher-than-average attrition rates and (2) being
separated for misconduct, medical problems, unsatisfactory
performance, drug use, and character/behavior disorders.  (For a
presentation of attrition rates by occupation, see app.  II.)

During our site visits, we interviewed all or nearly all enlistees
being separated at the time.  Our interviewees included 110
first-term enlistees who were being separated early and 144
first-term enlistees who planned to complete their terms.  Of the 110
enlistees who were being separated early, 97, or 88 percent, were
being discharged for misconduct, medical problems, drug use,
performance problems, and character/behavior disorders.  We
interviewed an additional 41 enlisted personnel on their second or
subsequent terms, as well as supervisory officer and enlisted
personnel at all locations to obtain insights into their perceptions
of what drives first-term attrition. 

We conducted one-on-one interviews with first-term enlistees and
supervisors and conducted large group discussions with other
commissioned and noncommissioned officers.  We chose the following
locations to conduct our interviews based on our analysis of where
large concentrations of first-term enlistees were assigned,
particularly in occupations experiencing higher-than-average
attrition rates: 

  -- the Air Force's Air Combat Command, Langley, Virginia;

  -- the Navy's Office of the Commander in Chief, U.S.  Atlantic
     Fleet, Norfolk, Virginia, and Submarine Torpedo Facility,
     Yorktown, Virginia;

  -- the Marine Corps' II Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune and
     Cherry Point, North Carolina; and

  -- the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 

During our one-on-one interviews, we assured interviewees that we
would not associate their names with information they provided to us. 
Though we took notes during our interviews, we did not record
interviewees' names.  Interviews lasted from 10 to 45 minutes each. 
We asked open-ended questions that would allow enlistees to tell us
how they felt about being in the service.  In summary, our questions
were as follows: 

  -- Are you being separated before the end of your first term?  If
     so, why? 

  -- What do you plan to do after you leave the service? 

  -- Do you want to stay in the service?  If given the opportunity,
     would you like to reenlist? 

  -- Do you have any other thoughts on your occupation and your time
     in the service?  If you want to leave, is there anything the
     service could have done to make you want to stay? 

While our interviews with first-term enlistees do not represent a
statistical sample, they provided useful insights into enlistees'
perceptions of the reasons for attrition.  Our interviews were
intended to solicit any and all thoughts on why enlistees were not
completing their first terms and on the advantages and disadvantages
of military service. 

To gain insight into first-term attrition, we interviewed officials
in

  -- the Army's Directorate of Military Personnel Management, Office
     of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Washington, D.C.;

  -- the Navy's Office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for
     Military Personnel Policy and Career Progression, Bureau of
     Naval Personnel, Arlington, Virginia;

  -- the Air Force's Directorate of Military Personnel Policy, Office
     of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, Washington, D.C.; and

  -- the Marine Corps' Manpower Plans and Policy Division, Office of
     the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Military and Reserve
     Affairs, Arlington, Virginia. 

We conducted our review between August 1997 and September 1998 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


--------------------
\5 We chose this period so that we could track trends over at least a
10-year period. 


HIGH FIRST-TERM ATTRITION RESULTS
IN A REDUCED RETURN ON THE
SERVICES' RECRUITING AND TRAINING
INVESTMENT
============================================================ Chapter 2

About one-third of all enlistees who entered the services between
fiscal year 1982 and 1993 did not complete their first contract
terms.  Most of these enlistees were separated between their 7th and
48th month of service, when they had been fully trained and were
assigned to jobs.  Our analysis of all enlistees entering the
services in fiscal year 1993 showed that these general historical
trends continued.  However, the rates were slightly higher in the
Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.  DOD's attrition rates throughout
this period are somewhat higher than reported because they do not
include some enlistees who were allowed to separate early for various
reasons, such as to attend a civilian school or to allow the services
to meet mandated end strengths. 

DOD estimates of fiscal year 1998 costs indicate that by the time
enlistees have been recruited and trained, generally within the first
6 months of service, the services have already spent about $35,000 on
each one.  This figure includes enlistees' pay and allowances, as
well as the cost of the services' recruiting and training
infrastructure.  For enlistees who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993, the cost of recruiting and training was lower, ranging
from $19,143 to $24,885.  Using these earlier costs, we estimate that
the services spent $1.3 billion on recruiting and training the
enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year 1993 but did not
complete their first terms.  During these enlistees' abbreviated time
in service, approximately $0.8 billion of the $1.3 billion was spent
on enlistees' pay and allowances.  The remaining $0.5 billion was
spent on the services' recruiting and training infrastructure, which
includes recruiting and training sites, instructors, and recruiters. 
When the services separate enlistees between their 7th and 48th month
of service, they are not receiving a full return on their investment
in personnel whom they have partially or fully trained and provided
with on-the-job experience. 


   ATTRITION RATES HAVE BEEN
   FAIRLY STABLE OVER THE PAST
   DECADE, BUT FISCAL YEAR 1993
   DATA SHOWS A SLIGHT INCREASE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1

DMDC, as DOD's primary repository of servicewide attrition data,
reports that for enlistees who entered the services between fiscal
year 1982 and 1993, the attrition rate averaged 31.7 percent (see
table 2.1).  In most of these years, attrition rates have been lowest
for the Air Force and highest for the Army. 



                               Table 2.1
                
                  Percentage of Enlisted Personnel Who
                 Were Separated Before Their 48th Month
                               of Service

                                                                   All
                                                Marine     Air  servic
Fiscal year of enlistment         Army    Navy   Corps   Force      es
------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------  ------
1982                              34.5    30.3    34.4    30.8    32.6
1983                              32.7    25.6    31.1    23.4    29.0
1984                              31.3    26.1    31.2    24.7    28.7
1985                              30.5    30.6    33.7    24.6    29.6
1986                              31.3    33.8    35.4    26.3    31.4
1987                              31.4    31.5    33.0    25.3    30.5
1988                              33.7    31.6    30.4    25.5    31.3
1989                              35.3    34.0    32.7    30.1    33.7
1990                              36.4    32.6    36.2    30.4    34.2
1991                              36.8    30.5    34.2    31.7    33.6
1992                              35.9    32.2    32.2    30.0    33.2
1993                              39.3    35.8    31.5    32.5    35.8
1982-93                           33.6    31.2    33.0    27.4    31.7
----------------------------------------------------------------------
As shown in the table, attrition rates increased in the Army, the
Navy, and the Air Force for those entering the services in fiscal
year 1993 and being separated by the end of fiscal year 1997--the
latest available data.  In fact, these rates were higher than they
had been in over a decade.  The Marine Corps, in contrast, had the
lowest attrition rate, continuing a 3-year decline beginning in
fiscal year 1990.  Our data indicates that most of the rise in
attrition rates for the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force occurred
during enlistees' first 6 months of service.\1


--------------------
\1 As we reported in 1997, official reasons for enlistees' separation
during their first 6 months of service have to do largely with new
recruits' medical conditions, drug use, and problems with entry-level
performance. 


      A LARGE PORTION OF ATTRITION
      OCCURS BETWEEN ENLISTEES'
      7TH AND 48TH MONTH OF
      SERVICE
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:1.1

An analysis of the 35.8-percent attrition rate for enlistees who
entered the services in fiscal year 1993 indicates that 13.6 percent
of all enlistees were separated before they had completed 6 months of
service or less.  The remaining 22.2 percent were separated between
their 7th and 48th month of service.  (See fig.  2.1.)

   Figure 2.1:  Timing of
   Attrition for Enlistees Who
   Entered the Services in Fiscal
   Year 1993

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

The first 6 months of service represent the period when the highest
concentration of attrition occurred for enlistees who entered the
services in fiscal year 1993.  For the 72,670 enlistees who did not
complete their first terms, 27,624 were separated in this initial
period.  Between month 7 and 12, an additional 7,607 enlistees were
separated.  During these enlistees' 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of
service, attrition dropped gradually.  In the
2nd year of service, 14,922 enlistees were discharged.  In the 3rd
year of enlistment, 12,395 persons were separated, and in the 4th
year, 10,122 persons were discharged.  (See fig.  2.2.)

   Figure 2.2:  Numbers of
   Enlistees Who Entered the
   Services in Fiscal Year 1993
   and Were Separated During Their
   First Terms

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


   OVERALL ATTRITION RATES DO NOT
   INCLUDE ALL EARLY RELEASES
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:2

DOD-reported attrition rates include some enlistees who are separated
voluntarily under the services' early release programs, such as
enlistees released from the Air Force voluntarily to take other
employment opportunities.  However, the reported rates do not include
enlistees released voluntarily to attend school or for reductions in
force.  As a result, attrition rates would be even higher if they
included all enlistees who did not complete their first contract
terms. 

The services' standard policy has been that enlistees are generally
not to be released more than 90 days before the end of their first
terms.  However, in practice, the services have for various reasons
released enlistees more than 90 days early.  According to DOD, the
90-day release option exists to preclude the cost and the
inconvenience of transferring servicemembers to new duty positions
just as they are about to complete their terms of service and be
discharged.  Marine Corps and Army officials told us that this 90-day
standard remained the policy during downsizing.  In contrast, the Air
Force and the Navy deliberately released first-term enlistees much
earlier than 90 days to meet mandated decreases in end strength
during downsizing. 

According to Navy data, beginning in fiscal year 1992, enlistees were
voluntarily released up to 1 year before the end of their first
terms.  The number of these early releases peaked in fiscal year
1994, with 6,434 first-term personnel being allowed to separate 4 to
12 months early.  In fiscal year 1997, this number was down to
1,604.\2 The Navy's most recent authorization for these
reduction-in-strength early releases was disseminated by the
Secretary of the Navy in fiscal year 1993 and continues through
fiscal year 1999.  None of the persons allowed to separate early from
the Navy under the early release programs are included in DMDC
calculations of attrition rates. 

During its downsizing, the Air Force allowed some first-term
enlistees to be released after only 1 year of service to go into the
reserves.  The Air Force also allowed enlistees to be released early
to attend school or to take other employment.  There was no minimum
time-in-service requirement for these two types of voluntary release. 
DMDC does not include Air Force enlistees released to go into the
reserves or to go to school in its attrition statistics; it does
include enlistees released early to take other employment.  According
to Air Force officials, allowing first-term enlistees to separate
early was one way to avoid having to separate and pay benefits to
more senior enlisted personnel while downsizing was occurring.  The
Air Force has recently announced its decision to reduce the number of
early releases it approves, though its early release programs remain
in effect. 

Our analysis of DMDC's data on all enlistees who entered the services
in fiscal year 1993 confirms that the Air Force and the Navy allowed
large numbers of enlisted personnel to voluntarily separate more than
90 days early under early release programs between fiscal year 1993
and 1997.  The Marine Corps and the Army, on the other hand, released
fewer persons under these programs.  (See table 2.2.) Enlistees
released early to attend school or as part of reduction-in-strength
programs are not included in DMDC's calculation of attrition rates. 



                               Table 2.2
                
                 Enlistees Who Entered the Services in
                Fiscal Year 1993 and Were Released More
                 Than 90 Days Early During Fiscal Years
                                1993-97

                                                        Marine     Air
Time before the end of the contract       Army    Navy   Corps   Force
--------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------  ------
13 or more months early                    110   1,971       3     753
4-12 months early                          108     983       2     349
======================================================================
Total                                      218   2,954       5   1,102
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Adding releases more than 3 months early to attrition rates for
enlistees who entered the services in fiscal year 1993 does not
affect the Army's or the Marine Corps' rates.  However, it adds 4.7
percentage points to the Navy's rate of 35.8 percent, increasing it
to 40.5 percent, and it adds 3.5 percentage points to the Air Force's
rate of 32.5 percent, increasing it to 36 percent. 


--------------------
\2 The Navy's calculations include all enlistees who were separated
between 4 and 12 months early in a particular fiscal year, regardless
of the fiscal year in which they entered the service.  The Navy's
data, therefore, will not match our calculations, which include the
separation of all enlistees who entered the Navy in fiscal year 1993
and were separated more than 90 days early in fiscal years 1993-97. 


   SERVICES' INVESTMENT IN THE
   RECRUITING AND TRAINING OF
   ENLISTEES WHO ENTERED IN FISCAL
   YEAR 1993 AND SEPARATED EARLY
   TOTALS $1.3 BILLION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 2:3

According to DOD, in fiscal year 1993, the average cost of recruiting
and training each enlistee ranged from $19,143 to $24,885, depending
on the service.  Using figures on the cost of recruiting and
providing basic training to these enlistees, we estimate that the
services invested $237 million in the 21,002 enlistees who entered
the services in fiscal year 1993 and were separated in their first 3
months of service, when most had not yet begun initial skills
training.  We estimate that the services invested another $1.1
billion in the 51,668 enlistees who were separated after they had
begun or completed their initial skills training.  Of this total of
$1.3 billion in recruiting and training funding, a DOD official
estimates that about two-thirds, or $0.8 billion, was spent to pay
the salaries of student enlistees, and one-third, or $0.5 billion,
was spent to pay for the recruiting and training infrastructure,
which includes recruiting and training sites, instructors, and
recruiters. 

Updated recruiting and training costs provided by DOD indicate that
these costs have risen since fiscal year 1993.  In fiscal year 1998,
DOD estimates the average cost of recruiting and training each
enlistee is $35,500:  $6,700 for recruiting and $28,800 for
training.\3 The fact that recruiting and training costs are rising
demonstrates that if current attrition rates continue, the cost of
attrition to the services will become even greater.  While it is not
feasible to expect to save the entire cost of recruiting and training
for each enlistee who is not separated, the cost figures do
demonstrate the magnitude of the cost of recruiting and training
hundreds of thousands of new recruits each year.  It would be
expected that if there were a significant reduction in attrition, the
recruiting and training infrastructure could be reduced, resulting in
major savings.  Also, it is clear that once the individual has been
trained, the longer the services can keep an enlistee, the more of a
return the services will receive on their investment. 


--------------------
\3 This includes the cost of basic training and additional
occupational training that takes place generally within the first 6
months of an enlistee's first term.  In some cases, this occupational
training can last up to 1 year or more. 


OFFICIAL REASONS FOR EARLY
SEPARATIONS
============================================================ Chapter 3

According to the official codes used to categorize enlistees'
separations, the primary reasons for the early discharge of enlistees
who entered the services in fiscal year 1993 varied by gender and by
service.  While the services' official separation codes capture
general categories of discharge, we continue to find, as we did in
our 1997 report on attrition from basic training, that the services
use these separation codes differently and that these codes capture
only one of several possible reasons for a single early discharge. 
The services' sometimes extreme variations in the percentages of
their separations for a given official reason suggest that the
services interpret separation codes differently, that their
separation policies differ, that the services have very different
attrition problems, or some combination of these explanations. 


   OFFICIAL REASONS FOR SEPARATION
   VARY BY GENDER
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1

The principal reasons that men who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993 were separated between their 7th and 48th month are
presented in table 3.1 in order of their magnitude.  As shown, over
70 percent of the servicewide men in this group were separated for
misconduct, medical/physical conditions, performance problems, and
drug use. 



                               Table 3.1
                
                 Principal Reasons That Men Who Entered
                 the Services in Fiscal Year 1993 Were
                  Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                 Month

                                              Percentage
                                             of all male
                                 Number of     attrition
                                      male   between the
                                 enlistees  7th and 48th    Cumulative
Official reason                  separated         month    percentage
----------------------------  ------------  ------------  ------------
Misconduct                          12,425          33.4          33.4
Medical/physical problems            5,634          15.2          48.6
Performance problems                 4,625          12.5          61.1
Drugs                                3,448           9.3          70.4
Character/behavior disorder          2,548           6.9          77.3
Miscellaneous reasons\a              1,643           4.4          81.7
Weight/body fat                      1,552           4.2          85.9
Dependency/hardship                  1,311           3.5          89.4
Alcoholism                             827           2.2          91.6
Erroneous enlistment\b                 326           0.9          92.5
Homosexuality                          192           0.5          93.0
Parenthood                             143           0.4          93.4
Sexual perversion                       85           0.2          93.6
All other reasons\c                  2,403           6.5         100.1
======================================================================
Total                               37,162         100.0       100.1\d
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a The Air Force includes early releases for employment in the
category of "miscellaneous" reasons. 

\b "Erroneous enlistment" is an enlistment that would not have
occurred if relevant facts had been known by the government or if
appropriate directives had been followed.  The failure to reveal
relevant facts must not have been the result of fraudulent conduct by
the enlistee. 

\c This category captures all reasons not listed above, such as
eneuresis, financial irresponsibility, unsanitary habits, and
unsuitability, among others. 

\d Cumulative total does not add to 100 percent due to rounding. 

The principal reasons that women who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993 were separated between their 7th and 48th month are
presented in table 3.2 in order of their magnitude.  As shown, over
71 percent of all women in this group were separated for pregnancy,
medical/physical problems, misconduct, performance problems, or
parenthood. 



                               Table 3.2
                
                Principal Reasons That Women Who Entered
                 the Services in Fiscal Year 1993 Were
                  Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                 Month

                                              Percentage
                                                  of all
                                                  female
                                 Number of     attrition
                                    female   between the
                                 enlistees  7th and 48th    Cumulative
Official reason                  separated         month    percentage
----------------------------  ------------  ------------  ------------
Pregnancy                            2,074          26.3          26.3
Medical/physical problems            1,075          13.6          39.9
Misconduct                             890          11.3          51.2
Performance problems                   864          11.0          62.2
Parenthood                             706           9.0          71.2
Character/behavior disorder            550           7.0          78.2
Dependency/hardship                    440           5.6          83.8
Weight/body fat                        380           4.8          88.6
Miscellaneous reasons\a                379           4.8          93.4
Drugs                                  152           1.9          95.3
Homosexuality                           97           1.2          96.5
Alcoholism                              56           0.7          97.2
Erroneous enlistment\b                   9           0.1          97.3
Sexual perversion                        5           0.1          97.4
All other reasons\c                    207           2.6         100.0
======================================================================
Total                                7,884         100.0         100.0
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a The Air Force includes early releases for employment in the
category of "miscellaneous" reasons. 

\b "Erroneous enlistment" is an enlistment that would not have
occurred if relevant facts had been known by the government or if
appropriate directives had been followed.  The failure to reveal
relevant facts must not have been the result of fraudulent conduct by
the enlistee. 

\c This category captures all reasons not listed above, such as
enuresis, financial irresponsibility, unsanitary habits, and
unsuitability, among others. 


      SEPARATIONS FOR PREGNANCY
      EXPLAIN SOME GENDER
      DIFFERENCES IN ATTRITION
      RATES
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1.1

Overall attrition rates (or separation rates between 0 and 48 months)
are higher for women who entered the services in fiscal year 1993
than they are for men.  Separations for pregnancy explain the
differences in attrition rates by gender in the Navy and the Air
Force.  However, this explanation does not hold true for the Marine
Corps and the Army.  If separations for pregnancy are subtracted from
the total number of each service's discharges, attrition rates for
Navy women are actually 2 percentage points lower than they are for
Navy men.  After subtracting separations for pregnancy, attrition
rates for Air Force men and women are the same.  After subtracting
separations for pregnancy, attrition rates are still 6 percentage
points higher for Army women and 9 percentage points higher for
Marine Corps women (see table 3.3).  It should be noted that a much
larger percentage of female separations are due to reasons related to
parenthood--9 percent for women compared to 0.4 percent for men. 



                         Table 3.3
          
            Attrition Rates for Male and Female
           Enlistees Who Entered the Services in
            Fiscal Year 1993 and Were Separated
            Before the End of Their First Terms
                   (from 0 to 48 months)

                  (Figures in percentages)

                      Female          Female
                   attrition       attrition
                       rate,           rate,
                   including       excluding          Male
                   pregnancy       pregnancy     attrition
Service          separations     separations          rate
------------  --------------  --------------  ------------
Army                      51              43            37
Navy                      39              33            35
Marine Corps              49              40            31
Air Force                 38              31            31
All services              45              37            34
----------------------------------------------------------

      SUBTRACTING SEPARATIONS FOR
      PREGNANCY DOES NOT EXPLAIN
      ALL GENDER DIFFERENCES IN
      REASONS FOR SEPARATION
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:1.2

Our analysis of reasons for separation between the 7th and 48th month
indicates that, after separations for pregnancy are subtracted,
discharges for misconduct, drugs, and alcoholism continue to
represent higher proportions of separations for men than for women. 
On the other hand, discharges for medical/physical and performance
problems, for character/behavior disorders, for dependency/hardship,
and for parenthood continue to represent higher proportions of
separations for women than for men.  (See table 3.4.)



                               Table 3.4
                
                 Comparison of Official Reasons for the
                   Separation of Men and Women After
                  Subtracting Discharges for Pregnancy

                                                         Percentage of
                                         Percentage of      all female
                                              all male    nonpregnancy
                                             attrition       attrition
                                           between the     between the
                                          7th and 48th    7th and 48th
Official reason                                  month           month
--------------------------------------  --------------  --------------
Misconduct                                        33.4            15.3
Medical/physical problems                         15.2            18.5
Performance problems                              12.5            14.9
Drugs                                              9.3             2.6
Character/behavior disorder                        6.9             9.5
Miscellaneous reasons\a                            4.4             6.5
Weight/body fat                                    4.2             6.5
Dependency/hardship                                3.5             7.6
Alcoholism                                         2.2             1.0
Erroneous enlistment                               0.9             0.2
Homosexuality                                      0.5             1.7
Parenthood                                         0.4            12.2
Sexual perversion                                  0.2             0.1
All other reasons\b                                6.5             3.6
======================================================================
Total                                          100.1\c         100.2\c
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a The Air Force includes early releases for employment in the
category of "miscellaneous" reasons. 

\b This category captures all reasons not listed above. 

\c Total does not add to 100 percent due to rounding. 


   OFFICIAL REASONS FOR SEPARATION
   VARY BY SERVICE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:2

The incidence of separations within each category varies by service. 
For example, for Marine Corps men who entered the service in fiscal
year 1993, the leading cause of separation was medical problems, and
for Army, Navy, and Air Force men in this group, it was misconduct. 
(Figs.  3.1 through 3.4 show each service's major reasons for
separation by gender.)

   Figure 3.1:  Top Reasons for
   Male Attrition in the Marine
   Corps Between the 7th and 48th
   Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.2:  Top Reasons for
   Male Attrition in the Army
   Between the 7th and 48th Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.3:  Top Reasons for
   Male Attrition in the Navy
   Between the 7th and 48th Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.4:  Top Reasons for
   Male Attrition in the Air Force
   Between the 7th and 48th Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

\a The Air Force includes early releases for employment in the
category of "miscellaneous" reasons. 

Major reasons for female attrition also vary by service, although
separations for pregnancy represent the largest single category of
discharges for women in all four services.  Separations for pregnancy
represent between one-fourth and one-third of all female separations. 
For Navy and Marine Corps women who entered the services in fiscal
year 1993, the second leading cause of separation was medical
problems.  For Air Force women, it was "miscellaneous" releases, and
for Army women, it was performance problems.  (See figs.  3.5 through
3.8.)

   Figure 3.5:  Top Reasons for
   Female Attrition in the Marine
   Corps Between the 7th and 48th
   Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.6:  Top Reasons for
   Female Attrition in the Army
   Between the 7th and 48th Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.7:  Top Reasons for
   Female Attrition in the Navy
   Between the 7th and 48th Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Figure 3.8:  Top Reasons for
   Female Attrition in the Air
   Force Between the 7th and 48th
   Month

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


   DIFFERING INTERPRETATIONS OF
   SEPARATION CODES AND POLICIES
   MAY EXPLAIN SERVICE DIFFERENCES
   IN REASONS FOR DISCHARGE
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3

In our January 1997 report on attrition from basic training, we made
recommendations for DOD to improve the consistency with which the
services apply separation codes.  We found that the data DOD uses to
track attrition is based on separation codes that the services
interpret differently and that capture only one of many possible
reasons for discharge.  Our recommendations were incorporated in the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (P.L. 
105-85), and DOD has formed a working group that is reexamining the
services' use of these separation codes. 

Our current analysis of separation codes confirms the continued need
for this effort.  First, the services' extreme variations in numbers
of separations for different reasons--such as unsatisfactory
performance, medical conditions, and drug use--suggest that the
services have different attrition problems, are interpreting the
separation codes differently, have different separation policies, or
some combination of these three explanations.  Second, current
separation codes do not provide information specific enough for DOD
to understand the magnitude of certain types of discharge.  For
example, the separation code for unsatisfactory performance includes
discharges for failure to pass physical fitness tests, career
development tests, and on-the-job requirements but does not
distinguish among the various categories of failure. 

The following sections describe the variations in percentages of
enlistees separated for the major official reasons for discharge: 
misconduct, medical conditions, unsatisfactory performance, drug use,
and pregnancy. 


      DISCHARGES FOR MISCONDUCT
      REPRESENT ONE-FOURTH TO
      ONE-THIRD OF ALL SEPARATIONS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.1

The categories of offenses included under separations for misconduct
range from civilian court convictions, courts-martial, and serious
offenses, such as larceny, to the less egregious category of minor
disciplinary infractions, such as being habitually late for work. 
For all enlistees entering the services in fiscal year 1993,
separations for misconduct between the 7th and 48th month of service
represented about one-third of all separations for the Navy and the
Air Force.  Separations for misconduct represented about one-fourth
of all separations for the Army and the Marine Corps (see table 3.5). 



                               Table 3.5
                
                 Separations for Misconduct for Persons
                  Who Enlisted in Fiscal Year 1993 and
                  Were Separated Between Their 7th and
                               48th Month

                            Number
                            separa                       Percentage of
Service                        ted          each service's separations
--------------------------  ------  ----------------------------------
Navy                         4,607                                34.7
Air Force                    2,235                                33.4
Army                         4,833                                26.4
Marine Corps                 1,640                                24.2
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Army and the Navy have made it clear that they do not wish to
reduce attrition rates by trying to rehabilitate individuals who
engage in misconduct.  For example, the Navy has recently made its
definition of a "pattern of misconduct" more stringent, changing the
number of offenses constituting a "pattern" from three or more to two
or more.  Also, the Army's Director of Military Personnel Management
has emphasized to its major commands that two of the largest areas of
separations, discharges for misconduct and discharges in lieu of
court-martial, "are areas that are absolutely non-negotiable."

DOD and GAO both have efforts underway to determine whether there are
better ways to screen incoming recruits for criminal backgrounds to
ensure that all available information on past criminal behavior is
considered in deciding whether to enlist new recruits.  In April
1998, DOD issued a report making recommendations to improve the
quality of its databases and to maintain preservice arrest
information on recruits.  GAO's effort involves an examination of (1)
the services' policies, procedures, and practices for screening and
granting enlistment waivers to recruits who have criminal backgrounds
and (2) the completeness of the information sources used to check
criminal records. 

Some enlistees now separated for misconduct may be candidates for
rehabilitation.  For all services' enlistees who entered in fiscal
year 1993 and were separated between their 7th and 48th month, 12
percent of those separated for misconduct, or 1,602 persons, were
found to have committed "minor disciplinary offenses." At one unit we
visited, an Air Force officer told us that most separations for
misconduct were not for serious offenses but rather for minor
disciplinary infractions.  He said that it was extremely rare for an
enlistee to be granted probation and rehabilitation.  In the
7 months he had been at the unit, he had seen only one case in which
an enlistee had been able to convince the local commander not to
separate him.  The officer said that it is almost a "foregone
conclusion" that enlistees whose separations process has begun will
be separated.  He viewed it as a "waste" to separate some of these
enlistees. 


      MARINE CORPS SEPARATES A
      HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF
      ENLISTEES FOR MEDICAL
      PROBLEMS THAN THE OTHER
      SERVICES
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.2

As we reported in January 1997, separations for medical problems
represent a large portion of all attrition from basic training.  In
that report, we made several recommendations for improving the
medical screening of incoming recruits.  The National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 1998 included all of our recommendations, and DOD is now working
to improve medical screening.\1

Separations for medical problems are also significant for enlistees
in their 7th through 48th months of service.  Enlistees may be
separated for any number of disqualifying medical conditions, for
example, a separated collarbone, a brain tumor, fallen arches, a
seizure disorder, a broken back, or a serious knee injury.  For
enlistees entering the services in fiscal
year 1993, the Marine Corps separated a higher percentage of its
personnel for medical problems than the other services did (see table
3.6). 



                               Table 3.6
                
                  Separations for Medical or Physical
                 Problems of Enlistees Who Entered the
                 Services in Fiscal Year 1993 and Were
                  Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                 Month

                            Number
                                of
                            separa                       Percentage of
Service                      tions          each service's separations
--------------------------  ------  ----------------------------------
Marine Corps                 2,315                                34.2
Navy                         2,142                                16.1
Army                         1,865                                10.2
Air Force                      387                                 5.8
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Again, the differences in numbers of enlistees placed in this
category by the services may indicate variations in how the services
apply separation codes.  The fact that the Marine Corps has a higher
number of enlistees separated for medical problems may also be a
result of what may be the Marine Corps' more rigorous physical
standards and training.  Some Marine Corps officials told us that
separations for medical problems are related to the physical
difficulty of some jobs that are very strenuous and make demands on
the body, particularly on the knees and ankles.  Army personnel with
whom we spoke said that in many cases involving medical problems,
enlistees arrive at their first assignments already injured as a
result of training. 


--------------------
\1 Among other things, we recommended that the services (1) require
all applicants for enlistment to provide the names of their medical
insurers and providers and sign a release form allowing the services
to obtain past medical information and (2) use DOD's newly proposed
database of medical diagnostic codes to determine whether adding
medical screening tests or providing more thorough medical
examinations to selected groups of applicants could cost-effectively
reduce attrition at basic training. 


      ARMY SEPARATES MORE
      ENLISTEES FOR PERFORMANCE
      PROBLEMS THAN THE OTHER
      SERVICES DO
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.3

Enlistees may be separated for unsatisfactory performance for a
variety of reasons:  for failing to perform adequately on their jobs,
for failing physical fitness tests, or for failing career development
tests.  DMDC data indicates that the Army separates a far greater
percentage of its enlistees for performance problems than do the
other services (see table 3.7). 



                               Table 3.7
                
                     Separations for Unsatisfactory
                 Performance of Enlistees Entering the
                 Services in Fiscal Year 1993 and Being
                  Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                 Month

                            Number
                                of
                            separa                       Percentage of
Service                      tions          each service's separations
--------------------------  ------  ----------------------------------
Army                         4,860                                26.6
Air Force                      484                                 7.2
Marine Corps                    84                                 1.2
Navy                            61                                 0.5
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Army's larger number of separations for unsatisfactory
performance may indicate that the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine
Corps list another reason for separating persons who experience
performance problems.  Or it may indicate that the Navy, the Air
Force, and the Marine Corps retain more of these enlistees.  Another
possible explanation is that during downsizing, the Army allowed
enlistees with "bars to reenlistment" to voluntarily separate for
unsatisfactory performance.  According to Army regulations, a "bar to
reenlistment" is a mechanism whereby Army commanders may put
enlistees on notice that they may not reenlist unless their
performance improves.  In December 1996, the Army changed this
policy, no longer allowing such soldiers to voluntarily separate.  As
a result of this change in policy, the Army reports that its
separations in this category dropped from 1,050 in fiscal year 1996
to 305 in fiscal year 1997. 

Service officials told us that first-term enlistees may also be
separated for unsatisfactory performance if they fail physical
fitness tests.  During our interviews with first-term enlistees, some
told us that they were being separated because they had failed one
part of the physical fitness test, such as the running portion or the
sit-ups portion.  Though we were told that alternate tests are
available to certain enlistees, we spoke with enlistees who were
being separated for failing the physical fitness test and did not
know that such options existed or had not been offered alternate
tests. 

In the Air Force, an enlistee may be separated for unsatisfactory
performance if he or she fails career development course tests.\2
Though Air Force policy permits commanders to allow enlistees to
change jobs to stay in the Air Force after failing these tests, we
found that commanders did not always make use of this alternative. 
The Air Force did not have data on how many enlistees were separated
for failing their career development course tests or on how many were
retained. 


--------------------
\2 Career development course tests are examinations that Air Force
enlistees must pass to remain in their assigned occupations, or Air
Force specialty codes. 


      MARINE CORPS AND NAVY
      SEPARATE MORE ENLISTEES FOR
      DRUG USE THAN THE ARMY AND
      THE AIR FORCE
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.4

For enlistees entering the services in fiscal year 1993, the Marine
Corps and the Navy separated more persons between their 7th and 48th
month for drug use than the other services did (see table 3.8).




                               Table 3.8
                
                Separations for Drug Use for Persons Who
                 Enlisted in Fiscal Year 1993 and Were
                  Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                 Month

                            Number
                            separa                       Percentage of
Service                        ted          each service's separations
--------------------------  ------  ----------------------------------
Marine Corps                   962                                14.2
Navy                         1,850                                13.9
Air Force                      239                                 3.6
Army                           549                                 3.0
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Differences in the services' proportions of drug separations might be
explained by differences in their use of separation codes.  Service
officials also speculated that these differences might be explained
at least in part by the frequency of drug testing.  For example,
according to Navy and Marine Corps officials, the Marine Corps tests
its enlistees for drugs a little over 3 times per year; the Navy
tests its enlistees 2.15 times per year; the Army 2 times per year;
and the Air Force 0.75 times per year. 

All four services take drug use very seriously.  They all have
mandatory requirements that such offenses are to be processed for
separation, though such processing does not result in an automatic
discharge for the offender.  According to Navy, Army, and Air Force
officials, these services have "zero tolerance" for drug use, and an
enlistee is almost always separated after a first offense.  The
Marine Corps also has "zero tolerance" for drug use.  However, two
Marine Corps local commanders told us that they are beginning to
reconsider the retention of one-time drug users.  Conversely,
officials in the Army appear to be considering actions that would
result in the retention of fewer drug users. 

While the Marine Corps separates a much higher percentage of its
enlistees for drug use than the Air Force and the Army, two local
Marine Corps commanders told us that they were reviewing all
separation packages and allowing certain enlistees to remain in the
Marine Corps after their drug tests were positive.  Each enlistee
allowed a "second chance" was tracked closely to determine whether he
or she successfully remained free of drugs.  Both commanders who were
granting second chances to drug users said that the Marine Corps has
a monetary investment in enlistees who have been fully trained and
are assigned to jobs.  We interviewed two Marine Corps enlistees who
had been given second chances after testing positive for drugs.  The
first enlistee said that a friend had put methamphetamines in his
drink at a party without his knowledge.  The second enlistee said
that he had tried cocaine for the first time at a friend's bachelor
party. 

The Army's recent actions, on the other hand, indicate that it is
becoming stricter with drug users.  Its current policy allows local
commanders to decide whether to retain first-time drug users if they
have 3 years of service or less.  However, the Army has drafted a
policy that, if finalized, will make retention of drug users even
rarer.  The new policy, if implemented, will make it mandatory for
commanders to initiate separation processing for all enlistees found
to have used drugs, though commanders will still have the authority
to retain these enlistees.  Army officials at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina, told us that they had begun to send drug users to jail,
rather than allow them to simply separate.  These officials believed
that this more punitive action was sending the message to enlistees
that taking drugs was not an easy way out of the service. 

None of the services maintains data on how often drug users are
retained.  Because such data is not maintained, the services have no
means of determining whether retaining enlistees found to have used
drugs is an effective policy, that is, whether these enlistees
represent good risks for either continuing to be productive
servicemembers or for completing their first terms. 


      SERVICES DIFFER IN THEIR
      POLICIES ON SEPARATIONS FOR
      PREGNANCY
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3:3.5

Female enlistees in all services may be separated if they become
pregnant, and male and female enlistees may be separated for
"parenthood" if they cannot adequately provide for their children
while meeting their service obligations.  For female enlistees who
joined the services in fiscal
year 1993, separations for pregnancy represented between one-fourth
and one-third of all female separations.  When separations for
parenthood are added, this portion rises even further (see table
3.9). 



                                    Table 3.9
                     
                     Pregnancy and Parenthood Separations for
                         Female Enlistees Who Entered the
                      Services in Fiscal Year 1993 and Were
                       Separated Between Their 7th and 48th
                                      Month

                                                               Total       Total
                      Percentage              Percentage  separation  percentage
           Number of      of all   Number of      of all       s for      of all
          separation      female  separation      female   pregnancy      female
               s for  separation       s for  separation         and  separation
Service    pregnancy           s  parenthood           s  parenthood           s
--------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------
Marine           150        36.4           7         1.7         157        38.1
 Corps
Army           1,010        26.9         443        11.8       1,453        38.7
Air              415        26.3           9         0.6         424        26.9
 Force
Navy             499        23.3         247        11.5         746        34.8
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The services' policies regarding the separation of pregnant women
differ.  The Army and the Air Force allow pregnant women to separate
at their own discretion, upon request.  The Marine Corps and the
Navy, on the other hand, place the decision of whether to separate
pregnant women in the hands of the local commanders.  That is, for
Marine Corps and Navy women, automatic and voluntary separation for
pregnancy is not an option.  According to Marine Corps and Navy
officials, the rationale behind their policies is that enlistees
represent a recruiting and training investment and that the decision
should be left up to the local commander. 

At present, none of the services maintains data to support the
effectiveness of either allowing all pregnant women to separate or
leaving this decision up to local commanders.  For example, the
services do not maintain data on how many enlisted women become
pregnant and voluntarily stay in the service to complete their first
terms or, in the case of the Navy and the Marine Corps, the number of
pregnant women who are required to stay in the service after their
requests to separate are turned down.  Without such data, the
services will be unable to determine whether first-term enlisted
women who become pregnant and remain in the service after being
denied separation prove to be productive servicemembers who
successfully complete their terms. 


QUALITY-OF-LIFE ISSUES APPEAR TO
BE DEMOTIVATORS FOR COMPLETING
CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS FOR
MILITARY SERVICE
============================================================ Chapter 4

In an attempt to find root causes for enlistees' early separations,
we interviewed 254 first-term personnel and their supervisors.  Many
supervisors and first-term enlistees suggested that quality-of-life
issues, such as a perceived erosion of benefits, pay, and advancement
opportunities, coupled with long work hours and frequent deployments,
may lie at the root of many separations.  While our interviews do not
comprise a representative, statistical sample of all first-term
enlistees and clearly do not provide a basis for pointing out which
quality-of-life improvements might lead to lower attrition rates,
they do provide useful insights into underlying reasons for current
attrition rates. 

All four of the services survey their personnel on quality-of-life
issues in some way.  However, the services do not currently
administer exit surveys to first-term enlisted personnel, and they
have not used available survey information to help analyze the
problem of first-term enlisted attrition.  That is, there is
currently no formalized mechanism for prioritizing the concerns of
first-term personnel who are discharged early or allowing the
services to direct their attention to improving quality-of-life
issues that will have the most effect on reducing the attrition of
first-term personnel. 


   PERCEPTION IS THAT MILITARY
   BENEFITS ARE ERODING OR ARE NOT
   COMPETITIVE WITH THE PRIVATE
   SECTOR
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:1

Many enlistees expressed the general perception that military
retirement and medical benefits are eroding and that their salaries
are not competitive with those of the private sector.  The sense that
they could make more money in the civilian world was most prevalent
in occupations with highly transferrable skills such as those
involving computers.  The perception that retirement benefits are
eroding was another frequently expressed demotivator.  This was
particularly true when first-term enlistees worked side by side with
enlistees who had entered the services before the retirement system
was changed and whose retirement benefits were seen as clearly
better.  Finally, the sense that medical benefits were not as good as
they used to be was expressed frequently as another reason that a
career in the military was no longer as appealing. 


   FURTHER CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
   ARE DESIRED
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:2

Many enlistees expressed frustration with not having more
opportunities for career advancement.  Many said that they felt that
advancement opportunities were limited, that they had few choices to
cross-train for other occupations, and that they were not allowed to
transfer to other locations.  Some who had joined the military for
college benefits said that their long work schedules and deployments
prevented them from taking night courses toward obtaining a college
degree. 

One subgroup of Navy enlistees for whom career training appeared to
be of particular concern was the general detail sailors.  These
sailors complete basic training and a 2.4-week apprenticeship course
but do not attend a technical school that qualifies them for a Navy
rating.  According to Navy career counselors we interviewed, the
Navy's policy of not sending these sailors to technical schools is a
primary driver of first-term enlisted attrition.  In fact, Navy data
indicates that general detail sailors experience a
higher-than-average attrition rate.  For example, for enlistees
entering the Navy between fiscal years 1989 and 1993, the overall
first-term attrition rate ranged from 30.5 percent to 35.8 percent. 
The attrition rate for general detail sailors during these years,
however, ranged from 39.3 percent to 43 percent. 


   DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULES CAN BE
   MOTIVATORS OR DEMOTIVATORS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:3

Enlistees' feelings about their deployment schedules varied,
depending on how frequently they were deployed and on whether they
were married.  In some cases, deployment appeared to be a motivator. 
Some enlistees complained that they had joined the service to see the
world and had not been able to deploy at all.  Marine Corps officials
told us that they believed that first-term enlistees who deployed
generally had higher morale, fewer disciplinary problems, and a
greater sense of mission.  Other enlistees expressed frustration with
deployment, especially those in occupations that required extensive
and frequent travel away from home.  For example, one supervisor of
enlisted personnel in an Air Force fighter squadron said that his
unit's rigorous deployment schedule was the primary driver of
enlisted attrition.  He said that in one 18-month period, from June
1995 through December 1996, his entire squadron was deployed for 205
days.  One-third to one-half of the squadron was deployed for an
additional
134 days during this same period. 


   PERCEPTION IS THAT MARRIED
   ENLISTEES RECEIVE PREFERENTIAL
   TREATMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:4

Single enlistees frequently complained that their married
counterparts were treated preferentially because they received
housing and subsistence allowances and were allowed to live and eat
off base or off ships.  Single enlistees believed that, because they
lived and ate on base or aboard ship, they were more available and
thus were required to perform extra duties.  They also said that they
did not have equal amounts of time off and privacy. 


   RESULTS OF QUALITY-OF-LIFE
   SURVEYS ARE NOT DIRECTLY TIED
   TO EFFORTS TO REDUCE FIRST-TERM
   ATTRITION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4:5

All four services have developed surveys to collect information from
servicemembers on their perceptions of the quality of military life. 
However, no service currently administers exit surveys to first-term
enlisted personnel or targets the information it collects from these
surveys to the problem of first-term enlisted attrition and ways to
reduce it. 

The Army currently administers two surveys to its personnel.  First,
commanders may administer a "Command Climate Survey" when they assume
a new position, but they have the option of keeping the results
confidential.  Second, the Army Research Institute has administered a
"Sample Survey of Military Personnel" to Army officers and enlisted
personnel twice a year since 1943.  The latest survey results, from
the spring of 1997, indicate that 52.2 percent of all enlisted
personnel are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of
Army life.  Only 28.9 percent of enlisted personnel, however, were
satisfied or very satisfied with their amount of basic pay, and only
28.1 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their retirement
benefits.  Two other areas in which around one-third of enlistees
expressed that they were satisfied or very satisfied were in (1) the
number of personnel available to do the work (35.9 percent) and (2)
the opportunity to select a job, training, or station of their choice
(32.8 percent). 

In 1994 and 1995, the Army administered an exit survey to its
personnel, but this effort was discontinued because Army officials
believed that the survey duplicated the Army's other two surveys. 
The Army Research Institute is in the process of developing another
survey to be administered to all recruits as they enter basic
training and as they either separate from training or continue on to
their first duty stations.  Data collection for this effort is
expected to begin in January 1999. 

The Navy has administered a "Retention/Separation Questionnaire" to
its personnel every year since fiscal year 1990.  The questionnaire
asks officers and enlisted personnel to rate their satisfaction with
45 aspects of Navy life and to identify the most important reason for
leaving or thinking of leaving the Navy.  The 1997 results showed
that the top six reasons that Navy personnel cited for leaving or
thinking of leaving the Navy were (1) lack of promotion and
advancement opportunity, (2) family separation, (3) low basic pay,
(4) quality of leadership/management, (5) quality of Navy life, and
(6) lack of fairness in performance evaluations. 

The Air Force has administered a "Climate and Quality of Life Survey"
to its officer and enlisted personnel every year since 1995.  The
survey contains questions on a variety of issues, including how many
days are spent away from home, how many hours personnel work each
week, and how personnel perceive the fairness of their pay and
benefits.  The Air Force's latest survey, for 1997, indicates that 69
percent of all first-term enlisted personnel believe that the Air
Force is a good place to work.  However, a summary of the survey
results states that the percentage of enlisted personnel who report
that they plan to stay in the Air Force until they are eligible to
retire dropped from 64 percent in 1995 to 58 percent in 1997.  The
average number of temporary duty days increased in this time period
from 46 days per year to 60 days per year.  The average number of
work hours per week rose from 46 hours in 1996 to 49 in 1997.  Only
28 percent of all first-term enlisted personnel believe that their
pay and benefits are fair and equitable.  Forty-four percent of all
married enlisted personnel and 45 percent of all single enlisted
personnel are satisfied with their medical benefits.  When asked
which of the programs, services, and facilities had the most positive
influence on career intent, enlisted personnel tended to identify
tuition assistance and Air Force-sponsored off-duty educational
opportunities. 

Finally, the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center
administered a survey in 1993 for the Marine Corps on quality-of-life
issues.  This survey, which contained questions on servicemembers'
perceptions of their residences, incomes, standards of living, and
other things, was given to a sample of all active-duty Marine Corps
personnel except those in the lowest pay grade, E-1.  Overall, survey
results showed that junior enlisted personnel were more negative on
all measures of quality of life than members of other pay grades. 
For example, unmarried junior enlisted personnel, who are most likely
to live in the barracks, had the lowest scores of all ranks on
questions about satisfaction with housing.  Junior enlisted personnel
also had the lowest scores for satisfaction with their incomes. 
While current deployment status was not a factor in determining how
members felt about their jobs, junior enlisted personnel reported
fewer positive feelings about their jobs than did senior enlisted
members and officers. 

The Marine Corps has discontinued this questionnaire while the Center
for Naval Analyses develops a new "Climate Battery Survey." The new
survey will be divided into two parts, one on retention issues and a
second one on separation issues.  The Marine Corps plans to require
all active-duty personnel to complete the separation portion of the
survey before they leave the Marine Corps. 


SERVICES' ACTIONS TO REDUCE
FIRST-TERM ATTRITION
============================================================ Chapter 5

Historically, the services have focused their efforts to reduce
attrition on recruiting high school graduates with high scores on
aptitude tests because these types of enlistees have lower attrition
rates.  Because the majority of all recruits are now high school
graduates with high aptitude scores, the services must now focus on
increasing the proportion of these enlistees who complete their first
terms.  The services have taken some steps to address attrition, such
as encouraging commanders to examine opportunities to review
separation packages, setting numerical goals for reducing attrition,
and restricting certain voluntary and early separations.  However,
only rarely have these efforts been driven by an analysis of (1)
exactly why attrition is occurring and (2) what separation policies
might be changed to reduce the attrition of specific categories of
enlistees. 

Two studies suggest that positive leadership, such as the services'
greater command emphasis on reducing attrition, has the direct effect
of lowering attrition.  While we spoke with local service commanders
who are now reviewing separations packages to reconsider the
possibility of retaining enlistees, we also spoke with first-term
supervisors who continue to believe that a "zero defects" mentality
remains a driver of attrition.  These supervisors also told us that
many enlistees continue to take advantage of separation policies to
seek easy ways out of the military with minimal consequences. 


   THE SERVICES' TARGETING OF HIGH
   SCHOOL GRADUATES WITH HIGH
   APTITUDE TEST SCORES HAS MET
   ITS LIMIT IN CONTROLLING
   ATTRITION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:1

Historically, the services have focused on the recruitment of high
quality personnel to minimize the time required for individual
training and to reduce attrition.  They have defined "high quality"
recruits as young people who are high school diploma graduates and
score in the upper 50th percentile of the AFQT. 

Our analysis of data on all enlistees who entered the services in
fiscal
year 1993 indicates that attrition rates continue to be lower for
persons with higher educational levels.  For example, those who
entered the services in fiscal year 1993 with high school diplomas
had an attrition rate of 35 percent.  On the other hand, those with 3
to 4 years of high school but no diploma or general equivalency
degree had a rate of 51.1 percent, and those holding general
equivalency degrees had an attrition rate of 54.8 percent. 
Similarly, enlistees who score progressively higher on the AFQT
continue to have decreasing rates of attrition.  Those who scored in
the highest AFQT category, category I, scores of 93 to 99, had an
attrition rate of 27.5 percent.  Those in category II, scores of 65
to 92, had an attrition rate of 32.4 percent; those in category IIIA,
scores of 50 to 64, had a rate of 37.6 percent; and those in category
IIIB, scores of 31 to 49, had a rate of 40 percent.  (More data on
attrition rates by educational level and AFQT score is contained in
app.  I.)

Overall attrition rates for first-term enlistees now reflect the fact
that the vast majority of the services' recruits hold high school
diplomas and score in the upper half of the AFQT.  For example, of
all enlistees entering the services in fiscal year 1993, 91.5 percent
held high school diplomas, and 71.1 percent scored in the upper half
of the AFQT.  For these reasons, DOD's overall attrition rate of 35.8
percent closely approximates the attrition rates of high school
diploma graduates (35 percent) and persons who score in category IIIA
of the AFQT (37.6 percent).  All these statistics indicate that if
DOD and the services did not target these higher quality recruits,
attrition rates would almost certainly be higher.  Efforts to reduce
attrition rates below current levels need to be focused on finding
ways to increase the likelihood that these already high-quality
enlistees will complete their first terms. 


   SERVICES HAVE MADE FEW FORMAL
   POLICY CHANGES TO REDUCE
   ATTRITION AFTER TRAINING
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2

Although all four services hope to reduce their first-term attrition
rates, they have made few formal policy changes to target enlistees
who have completed training.  The Air Force and the Army have set
specific numeric targets for reducing attrition, and the Air Force,
the Army, and the Marine Corps report that they have been successful
in reducing attrition in some areas.  However, only two services have
targeted groups of enlistees they wished to reconsider for remedial
action after training.  The Army has targeted enlistees with bars to
reenlistment who were previously allowed to voluntarily separate, and
the Air Force has targeted persons allowed to voluntarily separate in
the "miscellaneous" category, which includes enlistees allowed to
separate early to take outside employment.  In these two cases, the
services will be able to measure the effect of their policy changes. 
Other service efforts have not similarly been linked to clearly
identified problems.  As a result, any success these efforts
experience in lowering attrition may be either coincidental or have
the unintended effect of retaining enlistees who really should be
separated. 


      AIR FORCE HOPES TO REDUCE
      "MISCELLANEOUS" SEPARATIONS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2.1

In an effort to reduce first-term attrition, the Air Force has
encouraged its commanders to look carefully at voluntary separation
packages to reconsider retaining enlistees.  It has also set
numerical targets for reducing attrition rates.  Specifically, the
Air Force has issued a message to its commanders emphasizing the
importance of restricting the numbers of persons allowed to be
released in the "miscellaneous" category.  Persons placed in this
category include enlistees allowed to separate early to take other
employment, as well as enlistees released for reasons not included in
the Air Force's list of separation codes.  A successful reduction of
this category could have an important impact, as this reason for
separation represents 31 percent of all male and 23 percent of all
female discharges.  However, the Air Force will first have to analyze
more fully who makes up this group and why they are being allowed to
separate early. 

Other than targeting this one type of separation, the Air Force has
issued no other guidance to its commanders on ways to reduce the
attrition of first-term personnel.  Specifically, the Air Force has
not issued guidance to commanders that would assist them in
identifying exactly what types of cases should be reviewed or what
accommodations should be made to encourage more enlistees to complete
their first terms. 

The Air Force's target is to reduce its overall first-term attrition
from the current rate of 32.5 percent to 27 percent.  The Air Force
has separated its target into two parts.  First, it hopes to reduce
attrition during basic training from its peak of 11 percent to 7
percent.  Second, it hopes to reduce attrition after basic training
by 5 percentage points--to 20 percent--from a peak of 25 percent for
enlistees entering the Air Force in fiscal years 1991 and 1992.  The
Air Force plans to reevaluate these targets each year.  While setting
such numeric targets sends a clear and positive message to Air Force
commanders about the importance of lowering attrition, Air Force
officials provided us with no evidence that Air Force commanders had
been asked to document what actions they take that are successful. 
Such documentation would allow the Air Force to apply successful
methods to other units. 


      ARMY PLANS TO RETAIN MORE
      ENLISTEES EXPERIENCING
      PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2.2

In December 1996, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed Army
leaders to reexamine their procedures to ensure that they were doing
everything possible to reduce first-term attrition.  The Army has
also set numerical targets for reducing attrition.  According to Army
officials, however, the only formal policy change is that the Army no
longer allows enlistees with bars to reenlistment to separate
voluntarily.  Like the Air Force, the Army hopes that calling its
local commanders' attention to the importance of retaining first-term
personnel will result in lower attrition.  Again, while we believe
that such attention is critical, we could not identify any specific
guidance to the commanders as to how they should go about retaining
enlistees other than those with bars to reenlistment. 

In December 1996, the Army set the following numeric goals for
reducing first-term attrition: 

  -- To reduce fiscal year 1996 rates by 10 percent by the end of
     fiscal
     year 1997.  This would mean that the Army's 37-percent rate
     would be reduced to 34 percent. 

  -- To reduce fiscal year 1996 rates by 20 percent by the end of
     fiscal
     year 1998.  This would reduce the attrition rate to 30 percent. 

  -- To reduce fiscal year 1996 rates by 33 percent by the end of
     fiscal
     year 2003.  This would reduce the attrition rate to 25 percent. 

The Army reports that it has met its goal for fiscal year 1997. 
However, officials report that first-term attrition rates have
leveled off, and the Army is now reassessing what its long-term goal
should be.  Its tentative, revised goal is to reduce the rate to 30
percent by 2003.  On July 31, 1998, the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff
for Personnel outlined acceptable ranges for training attrition. 
These ranges were intended to be used not as attrition ceilings but
rather as indicators.  The Army's focus, again, was on emphasizing
the importance of rehabilitating and instilling values in its
personnel. 


      MARINE CORPS HAS BEGUN A
      UNIT COHESION PROGRAM TO
      IMPROVE MORALE AND THEREBY
      REDUCE ATTRITION
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2.3

While the Marine Corps has not established a numerical goal for the
reduction of first-term enlisted attrition, local commanders we spoke
with expressed their concerns about first-term attrition and cited
their efforts to reconsider discharging enlistees in their units. 
Like the Army and the Air Force, however, Marine Corps officials
cited only one formal policy initiative that they believe may reduce
the attrition of enlistees between their 7th and 48th month of
service.  The Marine Corps calls this initiative a "unit cohesion"
program.  Under this program, some enlistees have begun to train and
serve their first terms in groups of 2 to 13 people, depending on the
military occupational specialty. 

Though the primary purpose of this program is to promote a greater
sense of teamwork among Marine Corps enlistees, Marine Corps
officials believe that the resulting higher morale will encourage
more enlistees to complete their first terms of service.  While we
agree that unit cohesion may have a positive effect on lowering
attrition, this effort is not directly linked to the primary reasons
for separation in the Marine Corps--medical problems, misconduct, and
drug use for men and pregnancy and medical problems for women. 

The Marine Corps has other initiatives to reduce first-term enlisted
attrition, but these are aimed at separations before enlistees have
completed their initial 6 months of service.  These initiatives
include (1) increasing the amount of time that recruiters spend with
their recruits to improve their physical fitness and (2)
restructuring recruit training to add more core values training and a
field event to the end of the basic training period. 


      NAVY HAS MADE NO FORMAL
      POLICY CHANGES TO REDUCE
      ATTRITION AFTER TRAINING
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:2.4

The Navy hopes to reduce first-term attrition, and Navy officials
said that initiatives for reducing attrition are aimed at the time
enlistees spend in training, because this is the period in which
increases in attrition have occurred.  Among other things, Navy
efforts to reduce attrition have been focused on increasing their
recruiters' interaction with recruits before they attend basic
training and on improving physical training and student/instructor
ratios during training. 

Navy officials cited no policy changes intended to reduce the numbers
of enlistees separated after training.  Neither has the Navy set
numerical targets for reducing attrition rates. 


   EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT POSITIVE
   LEADERSHIP MAY RESULT IN LOWER
   ATTRITION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:3

There is some evidence that positive leadership, such as the type of
command emphasis the services are placing on reexamining the
separation of enlistees, could have a positive effect.  However,
during our interviews with first-term enlistees and their
supervisors, some continue to believe that there is a "zero defects"
mentality in the services.  That is, they believe that the services
are not willing to work with a servicemember at any pay grade to give
him or her a chance at rehabilitation.  This mentality appears to be
related to what some researchers have observed is the "volunteer in,
volunteer out" philosophy that came about when the draft ended. 
During the draft era, some researchers have commented, commanders
believed that enlistees had an obligation to fulfill and were more
likely to work with enlistees experiencing motivational problems. 
With the advent of the all-volunteer force, on the other hand,
commanders became less patient with below-average enlistees and were
more likely to separate them.  One obvious result of this change in
philosophy was a rise in attrition after the draft ended. 

There is some evidence that positive leadership, including the
motivation of enlistees who have the potential to be rehabilitated,
has a direct effect on lowering attrition.  For example, in 1984, an
Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) study of attrition during
training found that "trainee performance is nearly always a function
of cadre leadership." During the Command team's visits to training
sites, it found that

     units with lower attrition demonstrated concern for the
     individual, expected trainees to meet standards, and were
     generally working to produce "a soldier I'd accept in a .  .  . 
     unit." Cadres in units with higher TDP [Trainee Discharge
     Program] rates tended to be more concerned with statistical
     accomplishments, fulfilling the traditional drill sergeant role,
     and "weeding out the duds." They emphasized graduating "the best
     soldier in the United States Army" or "one I'd be proud to have
     in a .  .  .  unit." Their philosophy produced standards beyond
     the norm. 

The TRADOC team also found lower attrition rates in units that had
higher numbers of senior grade noncommissioned officers and effective
buddy systems. 

A 1988 Rand study also suggested that management policies have an
effect on attrition and reported that the Army's attrition rates
decreased immediately after the TRADOC study called attention to the
issues of Army leadership.\1 The Rand study compared enlistees with
similar educational levels and AFQT scores and found that the
attrition of these groups depended on what geographical locations
they were assigned to.  The study concluded that the differences in
attrition rates of similarly qualified enlistees suggest that
"factors such as institutional policies and practices may have a
critical effect on attrition levels." The study noted that after the
TRADOC study was completed and the Army had begun to focus on
attrition, the Army's attrition rates decreased in fiscal year 1985,
resulting in the retention of 4 percent more high quality men and 6
percent more high quality women. 


--------------------
\1 Richard Buddin, Trends in Attrition of High-Quality Military
Recruits (Santa Monica, California:  Rand Corporation, Aug.  1988). 


   SERVICES DO NOT PROVIDE
   SUFFICIENTLY PUNITIVE
   DISCHARGES TO PREVENT ENLISTEES
   FROM SEEKING SEPARATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5:4

During March 1998 testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed
Services' Subcommittee on Personnel, a panel of recruiters stressed
the importance of making new enlistees more aware of the commitment
they make in signing contracts for military service.\2

They expressed the opinion that it is too easy for enlistees to get
out of their service commitments.  One Army recruiter, for example,
said, "Sometimes we have got to hold them, hold their feet to the
fire, so to speak, a little longer, and I think in the end they would
be happy."

Our analysis of official reasons for separation and our interviews
with first-term enlistees confirm that some enlistees who are now
being separated might be retained if they faced stricter
disincentives for early separation.  Some enlistees who may now be
seeking "escape routes" by reporting medical problems; committing
minor disciplinary infractions; or failing their physical training,
career development tests, or weight standards are now able to
separate early and easily with honorable discharges.  One Army unit
we visited had already begun to attempt to close these easy ways out
of the service by imposing more punitive measures for behavior such
as drug use.  We do not believe that current characterizations of
service for enlistees whose behavior does not meet standards provide
adequate incentives for such enlistees to complete their first terms. 


--------------------
\2 Hearing to Receive Testimony on Recruiting and Retention Policies
Within the Department of Defense and the Military Services in Review
of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 1999 and the
Future Years Defense Program, March 4, 1998. 


CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
============================================================ Chapter 6

The services have been experiencing first-term attrition rates of
about one-third for over a decade.  During this time, the services
have targeted their recruiting efforts toward enlisting high school
diploma graduates who score in the upper half of the AFQT because
they have lower attrition rates than recruits without these
qualifications.  This group continues to show lower attrition rates
than other recruit groups.  However, because the overwhelming
majority of all recruits are now high school diploma graduates with
high AFQT scores, the services must turn their efforts to encouraging
more of their high-quality enlistees to complete their first terms. 
Reducing attrition rates will be complex and difficult.  However,
considering the cost of recruiting and training the thousands of
enlistees who do not complete their first terms of service, the
payoff of reducing attrition will be significant, since savings could
then be channeled to other defense priorities. 

In reducing attrition, a first and critical step is for DOD to obtain
more complete data on the magnitude of its losses.  We believe that
all separations--including voluntary releases more than 90 days
early--need to be reported so that DOD and the services have a fuller
and more accurate picture of their turnover rates.  We are not
suggesting that voluntary early release programs were not
cost-effective downsizing tools.  Rather, we believe that early
releases should be managed and reported along with other types of
first-term attrition.  Releases more than 90 days early clearly
result in a loss in the services' recruiting and training investment. 

Second, collecting better data on why enlistees are being separated
is key to the services' ability to craft policies that increase the
proportion of first-term personnel who complete their contractual
obligations.  In our 1997 report on attrition from basic training, we
made recommendations to DOD and the services on ways to improve the
use of separation codes to build a database for DOD to manage
attrition.  These recommendations were included in the National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 1998 (P.L.  105-85), and DOD is now working to implement them. 
Our current work reaffirms the fact that separation codes are used
inconsistently by the services and that these codes are not specific
enough to capture exactly why separations are occurring.  The
assignment of these codes requires a degree of subjective judgment. 
This subjectivity may mask true reasons for separation and make it
more difficult to analyze why attrition is occurring and to determine
what can be done to decrease it. 

Third, data now available on the quality-of-life issues underlying
attrition is not tied to the services' efforts to prevent the
attrition of first-term enlistees.  If the services could use the
data they collect from their several surveys on the quality of
military life to prioritize first-term enlistees' concerns, they
could focus their attention on improvements that would have the most
impact on reducing the attrition of first-term personnel. 

We believe that all the services are concerned about attrition and
that service leaders are conveying this concern to their local
commanders.  Two services, the Army and the Air Force, have even set
numerical goals for reducing first-term attrition.  However, while
there is research to support the positive effect of such command
emphasis on finding ways to get more high-quality personnel to
complete their first terms, we believe that setting numerical goals
for reducing attrition without complete information on its underlying
causes or guidance on what specific actions should be taken to reduce
it may turn these goals into arbitrary ceilings. 

While command emphasis on attrition is critical to the services'
efforts to reduce it, this emphasis must be linked to clear policy
changes that target specific groups of enlistees the services wish to
retain.  Better guidance to commanders on what actions should be
taken to deal with identified problems or what accommodations could
be made to retain certain categories of enlistees is also needed. 
The Army's recent decision to rehabilitate enlistees with bars to
reenlistment is one example of a successful policy change to reduce
attrition.  In this case, Army commanders targeted a group of
enlistees they wished to retain--primarily those with performance
problems--and made formal policy changes to do so.  The Army will now
be able to measure the effects of its policy change in terms of how
many more enlistees it was able to retain and why. 

Our interviews with first-term enlistees, supervisors, and service
officials indicate that other types of enlistees could be targeted
for remedial action if specific mitigating actions are taken.  For
example, enlistees who commit minor disciplinary infractions, who
fail physical fitness or career development tests, who are one-time
drug users, or who become pregnant may simply need to be provided
further counseling, optional testing, other job choices, or remedial
training by their commissioned or noncommissioned officers. 

Finally, granting honorable discharges to enlistees who deliberately
seek ways out of fulfilling their service commitments simply
encourages others to do likewise.  One Army unit we visited had
already begun to attempt to close these "escape routes" and impose
more punitive measures against certain enlistees, particularly those
found to use drugs.  We believe that some enlistees could be
motivated to remain in the service if they knew that there were no
easy ways out of their contracts and that serious negative
consequences were associated with behavior or performance that
warranted discharge. 


   RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 6:1

To capture more accurately the numbers of enlisted personnel
separated before the end of their first terms, we recommend that the
Secretary of Defense direct the service secretaries to include as a
separate category the numbers of first-term personnel released more
than 90 days before the end of their contract terms when they report
first-term attrition rates.  In order to provide more information on
what factors are related to first-term attrition, we recommend that
the Secretary of Defense direct the service secretaries to use
existing quality-of-life surveys or create new ones to (1) collect
information on the factors contributing to first-term enlistees'
separation and (2) identify quality-of-life initiatives aimed at
reducing the attrition of first-term personnel. 

To retain as many first-term enlistees as possible, we recommend that
the Secretary of Defense direct the service secretaries to take the
following actions: 

  -- Continually emphasize to all commissioned and noncommissioned
     officers the costs of first-term attrition, the difficulty of
     acquiring new enlistees to replace early losses, and the
     importance of providing positive leadership in targeting
     first-term enlistees who could be encouraged to complete their
     contractual obligations. 

  -- Collect more complete data on specific groups of enlistees whom
     the services wish to target for remedial action and issue
     guidance and formal policy changes to local commanders
     indicating what specific actions--such as more counseling,
     optional testing, further job choices, or remedial training--can
     be taken to prevent the early discharge of these targeted
     groups.  Possibilities for targeting include enlistees being
     separated for minor disciplinary infractions, failure to pass
     physical fitness tests and career development tests, one-time
     drug use, and pregnancy. 

  -- Reassess the appropriateness of providing favorable types of
     discharge to enlistees whose behavior or performance led to
     their early separation and ensure that proper incentives exist
     to encourage enlistees to complete their first terms. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR
   EVALUATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 6:2

In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with our
findings and recommendations.  (DOD's comments are presented in their
entirety in app.  III.) In an overall comment, DOD stated that our
focus on the early separation of enlistees who entered the services
in fiscal year 1993 might make it appear that attrition rates are
higher than they really are because the persons in this group
enlisted at the peak of military downsizing.  As we state in our
report, we concentrated our detailed analysis on this group of
enlistees because they represented the group for whom the latest data
was available 48 months after enlistment.  We agree that the services
might have been more willing to release first-term enlistees early
during this period of downsizing.  However, it should be noted that
the peak of downsizing did not occur in fiscal year 1993.  Rather, by
fiscal year 1993, DOD was well into the downward trend in its force
structure that had begun in the late 1980s. 

In concurring with our recommendations, DOD agreed to direct the
services to (1) review their 90-day release policies and the
exceptions granted to those policies, (2) prepare a report on
quality-of-life issues that could be addressed to reduce attrition,
(3) provide local commanders with guidance and formal policy changes
related to specific types of attrition the services target for
remedial action, (4) reassess the appropriateness of providing
favorable types of discharges to enlistees whose behavior or
performance led to their early separation to ensure that proper
incentives exist to encourage enlistees to complete their first
terms, and (5) prepare a report by October 1999 documenting service
initiatives related to our recommendations. 


ATTRITION RATES BY DEMOGRAPHICS
=========================================================== Appendix I



                               Table I.1
                
                 48-Month Attrition Rates by Education
                  Level for Enlistees Who Entered the
                      Services in Fiscal Year 1993

                        (Figures in percentages)

                                                                   All
                                                Marine     Air  servic
Education level                     Army  Navy   Corps   Force      es
----------------------------------  ----  ----  ------  ------  ------
3-4 years of high school, with no   54.2  51.6    38.0    37.8    51.1
 diploma or general equivalency
 degree
High school diploma                 38.6  34.6    31.1    32.5    35.0
General equivalency degree          56.0  54.9    51.5    45.9    54.8
Alternate education credential\a    52.2  50.0    38.6    38.5    48.2
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Persons who receive home study diplomas are included in the
category of those holding "alternate educational credentials." In
fiscal year 1993, the services enlisted 85 persons who had home
school diplomas.  Though their numbers are too small for meaningful
interpretations, their attrition rate was 35.3 percent. 



                               Table I.2
                
                48-Month Attrition Rates by Armed Forces
                 Qualification Test Category and Score
                 for Enlistees Who Entered the Services
                          in Fiscal Year 1993

                        (Figures in percentages)

                                                                   All
                                                Marine     Air  servic
AFQT category and score             Army  Navy   Corps   Force      es
----------------------------------  ----  ----  ------  ------  ------
Category III B (31-49)              42.8  40.1    35.1    39.1    40.0
Category III A (50-64)              41.9  37.2    32.3    33.9    37.6
Category II (65-92)                 35.6  32.4    28.5    29.5    32.4
Category I (93-99)                  29.5  28.4    22.6    25.0    27.5
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  Attrition rates for enlistees in the Armed Forces
Qualification Test (AFQT) category IV C (with scores ranging from
10-15), category IV B (with scores ranging from 16-20), and category
IV A (with scores ranging from 21-30) were not included in the table
because their numbers were too small to show meaningful patterns. 
For example, in fiscal year 1993, the services enlisted only 2
persons in category IV C; 8 persons in category IV B; and 1,612
persons in category IV A. 



                               Table I.3
                
                   48-Month Attrition Rates by Age at
                 Enlistment for Enlistees Entering the
                      Services in Fiscal Year 1993

                        (Figures in percentages)

                                                                   All
                                                Marine     Air  servic
Age at enlistment                   Army  Navy   Corps   Force      es
----------------------------------  ----  ----  ------  ------  ------
17                                  38.5  37.3    31.6    34.0    36.2
18                                  38.7  33.6    28.4    32.5    33.8
19                                  42.0  36.9    32.6    34.3    37.4
20                                  41.2  38.2    34.6    34.0    38.1
21                                  40.5  35.3    33.4    31.9    36.6
22                                  38.4  35.6    35.3    27.7    35.3
23                                  34.6  35.3    39.9    28.8    34.3
24 and above                        35.4  37.2    38.2    28.8    35.2
----------------------------------------------------------------------


                               Table I.4
                
                 48-Month Attrition Rates for Male and
                 Female Enlistees Entering the Services
                          in Fiscal Year 1993

                        (Figures in percentages)

                                Female attrition
Service                                     rate   Male attrition rate
--------------------------  --------------------  --------------------
Army                                        51.5                  37.0
Navy                                        39.2                  35.3
Marine Corps                                49.1                  30.7
Air Force                                   37.9                  30.9
All services                                44.5                  34.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------


                               Table I.5
                
                48-Month Attrition Rates by Race/Ethnic
                    Group for Enlistees Entering the
                      Services in Fiscal Year 1993

                        (Figures in percentages)

                                                                   All
                                                Marine     Air  servic
Race/ethnic group                   Army  Navy   Corps   Force      es
----------------------------------  ----  ----  ------  ------  ------
White                               40.8  36.6    32.2    33.1    36.7
Black                               38.1  37.8    35.1    32.1    37.0
Hispanic                            29.7  30.1    24.0    24.0    28.1
American Indian/                    45.0  38.2    32.6    39.3    39.4
 Alaskan Native
Asian/                              29.1  19.9    22.7    25.8    24.3
 Pacific Islander
Other                               37.3  32.1    26.4    32.9    32.6
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  The small numbers of enlistees in three of these subgroups may
limit analysis of these statistics.  For example, for enlistees
entering the services in fiscal year 1993, 1,287 were categorized as
"Other"; 1,459 were American Indian/Alaskan Native; and 4,487 were
Asian/Pacific Islanders.  On the other hand, 146,568 were white;
33,782 were black; and 15,325 were Hispanic. 


ATTRITION RATES BY OCCUPATION
========================================================== Appendix II



                                    Table II.1
                     
                     Army Attrition by DOD Primary Occupation

                                       Number of
                              enlistees entering      Number who
                                 in fiscal years       separated  Attrition rate
Occupation                               1989-93           early       (percent)
----------------------------  ------------------  --------------  --------------
Precision Equipment                           32              19            59.4
Radio and Radio Code                       6,525           3,244            49.7
Teletype and Cryptographic                 1,047             428            40.9
 Equipment
Food Service                              11,541           4,665            40.4
Metalworking                               1,410             534            37.9
Artillery/Gunnery, Rockets,               30,398          11,130            36.6
 and Missiles
Missile Mechanical and                     1,230             448            36.4
 Electrical
Weather                                      216              76            35.2
Personal Service                             668             233            34.9
Construction                               5,218           1,817            34.8
Wire Communications                        3,202           1,102            34.4
Motor Transport                           11,006           3,727            33.9
Religious, Morale and                      1,086             361            33.2
 Welfare
Infantry                                  61,769          20,493            33.2
Administration                            10,166           3,342            32.9
Law Enforcement                           14,889           4,883            32.8
Fabric, Leather, and Rubber                  232              76            32.8
Mapping, Surveying,                        1,743             568            32.6
 Drafting, and Illustrating
Medical Administration and                 2,147             693            32.3
 Logistics
Information and Education                    473             152            32.1
Seamanship                                   664             213            32.1
Utilities                                  1,369             438            32.0
Material Receipt, Storage                  7,934           2,517            31.7
 and Issue
Dental Care                                1,754             553            31.5
Technical Specialists,                     5,225           1,647            31.5
 N.E.C.
Lithography                                  325             102            31.4
Communications Center                      8,633           2,703            31.3
 Operations
Armor and Amphibious                      11,765           3,645            31.0
Combat Engineering                        13,050           4,043            31.0
Armament and Munitions                     6,689           2,056            30.7
Other Functional Support                  23,731           7,260            30.6
Other Mechanical and                       1,185             362            30.6
 Electrical Equipment
Automotive                                30,115           9,152            30.4
Radar and Air Traffic                      1,551             468            30.2
 Control
Fire Control Electronic                      295              89            30.2
 Systems (Non-Missile)
Personnel                                  7,931           2,374            29.9
Medical Care                              21,932           6,563            29.9
Other Electronic Equipment                   886             260            29.4
Combat Operations Control                 15,660           4,535            29.0
ADP Computers                                520             148            28.5
Power Generating Equipment                 6,017           1,706            28.4
Accounting, Finance and                    2,270             643            28.3
 Disbursing
Data Processing                            1,751             494            28.2
Missile Guidance, Control                  1,853             521            28.1
 and Checkout
Biomedical Sciences and                    3,100             870            28.1
 Allied Health
Ancillary Medical Support                  3,465             960            27.7
Forward Area Equipment                     1,213             329            27.1
 Support
Aircraft and Aircraft                      8,292           1,974            23.8
 Related
Shipboard Propulsion                         319              75            23.5
Photography                                  800             175            21.9
Signal Intelligence/                       6,591           1,424            21.6
 Electronic Warfare
Radio/Radar                               16,349           3,470            21.2
Intelligence                               5,474           1,057            19.3
Musicians                                    853             129            15.1
Ordnance Disposal and Diving                 498              41             8.2
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                    Table II.2
                     
                     Navy Attrition by DOD Primary Occupation

                                       Number of
                              enlistees entering      Number who
                                 in fiscal years       separated  Attrition rate
Occupation                               1989-93           early       (percent)
----------------------------  ------------------  --------------  --------------
Missile Guidance, Control                 18,164           7,106            39.1
 and Checkout
Food Service                              10,970           3,272            29.8
Seamanship                                25,189           7,205            28.6
Material Receipt, Storage                  2,026             567            28.0
 and Issue
Other Craftsworkers, N.E.C.                8,224           2,116            25.7
Construction                               3,808             971            25.5
Radio and Radio Code                       8,438           2,026            24.0
Lithography                                  298              71            23.8
Teletype and Cryptographic                 1,020             237            23.2
 Equipment
Automotive                                   952             218            22.9
Sonar Equipment                            4,424           1,008            22.8
Dental Care                                2,521             570            22.6
Shipboard Propulsion                      22,061           4,906            22.2
Air Crew                                  10,546           2,297            21.8
Forward Area Equipment                       976             212            21.7
 Support
Radar and Air Traffic                     10,888           2,315            21.3
 Control
Armament and Munitions                     4,766             961            20.2
Photography                                  656             130            19.8
Data Processing                            1,446             286            19.8
Wire Communications                        3,123             616            19.7
Artillery/Gunnery, Rockets,                3,032             595            19.6
 and Missiles
Medical Care                              15,298           2,809            18.4
Personnel                                  3,552             625            17.6
Personal Service                           1,262             220            17.4
Administration                             6,947           1,198            17.2
Precision Equipment                        1,051             178            16.9
Other Functional Support                  10,707           1,790            16.7
Utilities                                  2,174             362            16.7
Accounting, Finance and                    1,358             224            16.5
 Disbursing
Metalworking                               4,634             756            16.3
Information and Education                    366              59            16.1
Religious, Morale and                        633              98            15.5
 Welfare
Weather                                    1,019             156            15.3
Radio/Radar                               13,595           1,931            14.2
ADP Computers                              1,635             229            14.0
Fire Control Electronic                    2,334             325            13.9
 Systems (Non-Missile)
Aircraft and Aircraft                     27,581           3,793            13.8
 Related
Power Generating Equipment                15,989           2,015            12.6
Signal Intelligence/                       4,940             598            12.1
 Electronic Warfare
Communications Center                      1,504             182            12.1
 Operations
Other Electronic Equipment                 1,680             179            10.7
Intelligence                               1,099              94             8.6
Sonar                                      1,083              84             7.8
Armor and Amphibious                          28               2             7.1
Combat Operations Control                     66               4             6.1
Motor Transport                               36               2             5.6
Ancillary Medical Support                  2,665             145             5.4
Combat Engineering                            19               1             5.3
Other Mechanical and                         887              45             5.1
 Electrical Equipment
Musicians                                    332              15             4.5
Biomedical Sciences and                      654              28             4.3
 Allied Health
Mapping, Surveying,                           91               3             3.3
 Drafting, and Illustrating
Law Enforcement                              582              19             3.3
Industrial Gas and Fuel                      224               4             1.8
 Production
Ordnance Disposal and Diving                 729              10             1.4
Infantry                                     659               8             1.2
Technical Specialists,                       147               1             0.7
 N.E.C.
Installation Security                      1,510               4             0.3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                    Table II.3
                     
                        Air Force Attrition by DOD Primary
                                    Occupation

                                       Number of
                              enlistees entering      Number who
                                 in fiscal years       separated  Attrition rate
Occupation                               1989-93           early       (percent)
----------------------------  ------------------  --------------  --------------
Religious, Morale and                        336             152            45.2
 Welfare
Fire Control Electronic                       48              18            37.5
 Systems (Non-Missile)
Lithography                                  173              56            32.4
Nuclear Weapons Equipment                    500             160            32.0
Material Receipt, Storage                  4,161           1,296            31.2
 and Issue
Metalworking                                 742             215            29.0
Food Service                               3,767           1,086            28.8
Missile Mechanical and                     1,027             264            25.7
 Electrical
Motor Transport                            2,328             598            25.7
Construction                               3,366             845            25.1
Photography                                  818             204            24.9
Law Enforcement                            4,971           1,221            24.6
Utilities                                  4,532           1,111            24.5
Forward Area Equipment                     1,077             261            24.2
 Support
Armament and Munitions                     7,641           1,848            24.2
Personnel                                  2,803             668            23.8
Medical Care                               6,176           1,465            23.7
Fabric, Leather, and Rubber                  732             172            23.5
Biomedical Sciences and                    1,805             423            23.4
 Allied Health
Installation Security                      9,113           2,102            23.1
Technical Specialists,                     3,527             807            22.9
 N.E.C.
Automotive                                 2,183             495            22.7
Dental Care                                1,669             372            22.3
Administration                             5,817           1,293            22.2
Medical Administration and                 2,296             504            22.0
 Logistics
Accounting, Finance and                    1,772             381            21.5
 Disbursing
Wire Communications                        1,615             346            21.4
Other Functional Support                  14,080           2,973            21.1
Missile Guidance, Control                    918             192            20.9
 and Checkout
Radar and Air Traffic                      2,596             533            20.5
 Control
Weather                                    1,286             262            20.4
Power Generating Equipment                   691             139            20.1
Aircraft and Aircraft                     22,763           4,504            19.8
 Related
Signal Intelligence/                       3,367             639            19.0
 Electronic Warfare
Radio and Radio Code                       1,704             323            19.0
Mapping, Surveying,                          833             157            18.9
 Drafting, and Illustrating
Teletype and Cryptographic                   899             169            18.8
 Equipment
Ancillary Medical Support                  2,378             445            18.7
Data Processing                            5,679           1,062            18.7
Infantry                                     489              89            18.2
Combat Operations Control                  1,076             192            17.8
Other Electronic Equipment                 4,596             813            17.7
Radio/Radar                                8,820           1,491            16.9
Intelligence                               1,005             164            16.3
Ordnance Disposal and Diving                 324              50            15.4
ADP Computers                              1,334             203            15.2
Information and Education                    367              52            14.2
Air Crew                                   1,150             161            14.0
Musicians                                    255              34            13.3
Artillery/Gunnery, Rockets,                   48               1             2.1
 and Missiles
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


                                    Table II.4
                     
                      Marine Corps Attrition by DOD Primary
                                    Occupation

                                       Number of
                              enlistees entering      Number who
                                 in fiscal years       separated  Attrition rate
Occupation                               1989-93           early       (percent)
----------------------------  ------------------  --------------  --------------
Religious, Morale and                         57              16            28.1
 Welfare
Food Service                               3,047             798            26.2
Material Receipt, Storage                  4,393           1,035            23.6
 and Issue
Motor Transport                            7,688           1,785            23.2
Clerical/Personnel                         1,610             365            22.7
Metalworking                                 482             109            22.6
Personal Service                             959             216            22.5
Communications Center                      1,493             335            22.4
 Operations
Construction                               1,675             364            21.7
Lithography                                   88              19            21.6
Combat Engineering                         4,042             861            21.3
Fabric, Leather, and Rubber                   80              17            21.3
Administration                             6,006           1,276            21.3
Accounting, Finance and                    1,028             217            21.1
 Disbursing
Armor and Amphibious                       2,654             558            21.0
Utilities                                  1,670             350            21.0
Artillery/Gunnery, Rockets,                4,174             861            20.6
 and Missiles
Infantry                                  34,671           7,041            20.3
Other Functional Support                   8,133           1,618            19.9
Radio and Radio Code                       6,975           1,355            19.4
Armament and Munitions                     4,115             787            19.1
Wire Communications                        2,064             394            19.1
Automotive                                 6,722           1,267            18.9
Law Enforcement                            3,491             568            16.3
Industrial Gas and Fuel                      136              22            16.2
 Production
Forward Area Equipment                       693             112            16.2
 Support
Weather                                      284              44            15.5
Missile Guidance, Control                  1,362             211            15.5
 and Checkout
Technical Specialists,                     1,353             209            15.5
 N.E.C.
Seamanship                                    54               8            14.8
Musicians                                    589              86            14.6
Other Electronic Equipment                   342              46            13.5
Radar and Air Traffic                        949             123            13.0
 Control
Information and Education                    220              28            12.7
Photography                                  209              26            12.4
Aircraft and Aircraft                      6,523             779            11.9
 Related
Radio/Radar                                4,890             567            11.6
Teletype and Cryptographic                   295              34            11.5
 Equipment
Data Processing                            1,226             133            10.9
Signal Intelligence/                       1,214             130            10.7
 Electronic Warfare
Precision Equipment                          346              36            10.4
Medical Care                                  40               4            10.0
Mapping, Surveying,                          305              30             9.8
 Drafting, and Illustrating
Combat Operations Control                     55               5             9.1
Intelligence                                 550              43             7.8
ADP Computers                                257              20             7.8
Air Crew                                     727              36             5.0
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix III
COMMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF
DEFENSE
========================================================== Appendix II



(See figure in printed edition.)



(See figure in printed edition.)


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================== Appendix IV

NATIONAL SECURITY AND
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
WASHINGTON, D.C. 

Carol Schuster
William Beusse
Beverly Schladt
James Driggins
Frank Bowen
Julia Kennon
Charles Perdue
Nancy Ragsdale


*** End of document. ***