Good NCOs Can Save the Army Money

Good NCOs Can Save the Army Money

Photo by: U.S. Army

Good enlisted leaders could save the Army money because their experience results in lower attrition for junior soldiers, a new RAND Corp. report says, recommending the Army take leadership characteristics into account for promotions to sergeant and staff sergeant.

That would include some yet-undetermined measurement of interpersonal skills like compassion and fostering a good learning environment, along with other positive personality traits. The Army has been moving in this direction, with initiatives to adopt a way that subordinates, peers and superiors could rate soldiers.

Called “The Value of Experience in the Enlisted Force,” the Army-sponsored report found leaders with the right mix of experience have attrition rates in their units that are 2 percentage points lower than average. That small difference has a significant price tag because it costs the Army about $60,000 to recruit and train one soldier, the report says.

The study found that longevity alone does not make a great leader. Instead, certain characteristics made the biggest difference, such as time deployed and time in their unit.  Recent attendance at a leadership school did not result in a significant increase in retention among soldiers in their units, nor did a leader’s earlier than average rise through the ranks, the report says.

About 40 percent of promotion points to E-5 are related to weapons qualification and physical fitness but having high scores in those areas is not a factor in good leadership. “It is not until a soldier is promoted to E-7 that the Army begins to consider whether the soldier has the desirable attributes and competencies of Army leadership,” the report concludes.

The full report is available here.