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The full human resource system must be taken into account. Investments in personnel selection, classification, assignment, training, and job design should be balanced and coordinated to optimize returns in readiness and force effectiveness. The key may be to view the provision of mission-ready, competent human performance as the goal, rather than seeking isolated improvements in training, selection, human factors, or other essential but subsidiary components of the system.
Developing and maintaining a system view of human performance or human resources will require both cultural and organizational changes, as well as research and analyses of the system-wide costs and effectiveness of different approaches. Organizationally, there needs to be a Navy Department focal point where all aspects of human resources are routinely considered together as an interacting system. The Navy and Marine Corps should consider creating a personnel "battle lab" whose role would be to develop and assess human-centered technologies for more efficient use of people. This battle lab could also be tasked to manage the changes necessary to transfer promising approaches from research to their intended areas of application. Battle labs have been used in this context by both the Army and the Air Force.
Moreover, personnel research and analyses are needed to assess interactions and tradeoffs and to address gaps in management of Navy readiness. They should include ongoing, high-level review of our understanding of human cognitive processes, limitations, and workload constraints. This review should be used to inform policy decisions about human resource management, design of weapons systems, and operational doctrine. Research and analyses of this sort are not expensive. Currently, the ratio of research money invested in human resource issues relative to the amounts spent on human resources appears to be less than one-half of 1 percent. It may deserve to be increased. The payoff will exceed the required investment.
A FINAL WORD
It should be recognized that human competence is essential to every Navy and Marine Corps operation. Its presence will not guarantee the success of these operations, but its absence will most certainly ensure their failure. The availability of human performance at the highest practicable levels of competence is a matter of first importance to the Department of the Navy. Investments in human resources that are modest compared to other areas will yield substantial returns. They should be treated as significant issues that deserve both priority and high-level attention.