On June 9, 2016, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the latest and culminating parts of his sweeping reforms to the Pentagon’s antiquated personnel system. Carter’s efforts to modernize the human resources practices of the US Department of Defense (DoD) will reshape the federal government’s largest agency. The influence of what has become known as the Force of the Future, however, will be felt far beyond the Pentagon and will reach deeply into the private sector and even into other countries.
This once-in-a-generation overhaul of the personnel system in the DoD will take years, and it will extend over the terms of several defense secretaries. But, in the past few months, the intellectual groundwork has been laid, and the scaffolding of the future system is clearly visible. The revamped system will be characterized by greater flexibility, deeper interaction with the private sector, more individualized development plans, and the use of information technology and data analytics to match the right people with the right job, predict retention patterns, and improve recruiting efficiency. It will create a military that partners with private companies, allowing personnel to move between military service and the private sector, and it will de-emphasize promotions based solely on seniority.