Effect of being an aviator on promotion to O-5 in the USMC

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Reynolds, Jacob L.
Shen, Yu-Chu
Date of Issue
Monterey, CA; Naval Postgraduate School
Marine Corps aviation is an imperative component of the storied Marine Air-Ground team. Marine aviation is a perishable skill, however, not only in tactical employment, but also in operational and strategic planning. The senior leadership of the Marine Corps needs the technical and tactical experience of Marine aviators. In July of 2009, the Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation (DCA) proposed a quantitative study of the decreased promotion rates of aviator majors (O-4) to lieutenant colonel (O-5). If true, decreasing promotion opportunity of Marine aviators presents risk to the Marine Corps warfighting institution, through the loss of valuable aviation technical and tactical experience in senior leadership. The study is organized to answer the DCA's research question and to provide recommendation in how officers of the aviation component can be more competitive for promotion to O-5. The study draws upon nine years of Total Force Data Warehouse (TFDW) and Marine Manpower Support Branch (MMSB) data of Marine O-4s eligible for promotion, resulting in a dataset of 8,271 observations. The study's sample closely replicates the above and in-zone population of O-5 promotion cohorts from fiscal years 2004 through 2012. Analysis of the sample demonstrates that Marine aviators had a decreased selection opportunity to O-5 compared to all other MOSs, 62.3% versus 67.3%. Additionally, multivariate analysis was accomplished on the sample, which revealed a statistically significant and negative "aviator" effect of approximately 7.6 percentage points on promotion probability through various econometric model specifications. Traditional promotion selection notions are also affirmed in statistically significant and positive effects in individual performance, combat experience, Professional Military Education, and above bachelor's degree education. Finally, a restricted model was designed to analyze the factors that differentiated those aviators selected for promotion and those non-selected. Statistically significant factors for aviator promotion selection to O-5 included being part of the fixed-wing community, holding an additional MOS as a Weapon and Tactics Instructor (WTI), completion of Intermediate Level School, and the Special Education/Advanced Degree Programs.
Series/Report No
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
NPS Report Number
Deputy Commandant, Aviation, HQMC ASM-52, Pentagon, Washington DC
xvi, 152 p. : ill. ;
Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
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