They cannot wisely be shortchanged in favor of materiel acquisition. They are modest compared to investments in materiel and will support themselves. Most importantly, they will yield significant advances in naval force effectiveness.

The criticality of human performance to Navy and Marine Corps operations and its effective development and management were recognized in the terms of reference for the original Navy-21 study, Implications of Advancing Technology for Naval Operations in the Twenty-First Century.1 This earlier study foresaw the following trends:

  • Increasing system complexity;

  • Long operational periods away from home bases;

  • High demand for high-aptitude people;

  • A smaller, more mature, and more proficient force whose members are retained longer in the Service;

  • Increasing need for reliable, easily used equipment to reduce manning requirements;

  • Increasing substitution of intelligent machines for people;

  • Increasing use of advanced technology for training; and

  • Increasing use of embedded training to distribute training to distributed forces.

Many of these trends are carried forward into the current report, as are the concern with human performance and the necessity of ensuring human competence in our naval forces. The present study seeks, in part, to update Navy-21 findings in the light of technological and strategic changes that have occurred in the intervening 10 years. It also responds to additional tasking in the areas of quality of life and medical care.

Approach To This Study

The most difficult aspect of the panel's task involved anticipating developments and requirements in the year 2035. How might the United States have developed training for World War II before fighting World War I? How might our nation have prepared for the Korean War in, say, 1920?

Revolutionary breakthroughs are rare and, by definition, difficult to foresee. It is possible, however, to extrapolate developments that are evolving from current technology and global trends. The Panel on Human Resources sought to determine what might be done now to encourage the evolution of capabilities and practices that will ensure the efficient acquisition and management of human


Naval Studies Board. 1988. Navy-21: Implications of Advancing Technology for Naval Operations in the Twenty-First Century, Volume I: Overview, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

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