Retention is a primary concern for the U.S. Air Force today, and
the Air Force needs to explore all avenues of retention for its
officers. The Air Force should carefully evaluate the impact of
changing demographics on its officer retention. A review of the
demographic studies performed by the Air Force Chaplain Office in
the early 1980s and the National Families and Work Institute in
1997 reflect the trend towards an increasing concern for a
work/life balance among both military members and their civilian
counterparts. As the labor shortage for professional skills
continues, the Air Force must look for innovative ways to retain
its officers. The private sector leads the way with creative
programs that are diversified enough to attract both the career
professionals who aspire to be a CEO one day, and the career-family
professionals who more highly value the balance of a strong family
and successful career. Many of the programs begun by private
industry are viable options for the Air Force; it only depend son
how high a priority the Air Force places on retaining its
professional corps. The Air Force should also consider adopting
family support programs implemented by other armed forces, such as
the Royal Australian Air Force. Improving family support programs
is an important step in modifying the current career progression
plan for officers. Implementing a dual-track career progression
program will allow officers to choose options that provide a better
career/family balance without sacrificing certain career success.
This career flexibility, which has already proven successful in the
private sector, will be one more strong factor in retaining quality
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