The human dimensions of service life—what is defined broadly as quality of life—are critical components for achieving military retention, readiness, and performance objectives. Although "the actual details of the future will always be different from what we envision,"3 the realization of a smaller, smarter Navy and Marine Corps and implementation of the technological developments anticipated in the next half-century will not diminish the importance of quality of life (QOL) provisions for sailors, marines, and their families. Changes in how QOL priorities are ordered by individuals and families and how they can best be delivered should be expected. To adapt to these changes, the Navy and Marine Corps must be both flexible and cognizant of the complexity of human needs and the interrelationships among military duty and personal concerns.

The Department of the Navy invests significant resources to provide for the well-being of its members and families in the form of compensation, benefits, and services. As noted in a recent Defense Science Board report,4 QOL expenditures are a significant part of the overall defense budget, with specific DOD installation programs costing more than $6 billion per year and overall housing expenditures representing more than $11 billion. The Navy's (not including the Marine Corps) 1998 budget request includes $22.6 billion for broadly defined quality of life.5 This includes $13.2 billion for pay, $4.6 billion for medical care, $3.3 billion for shelter, $1 billion for exchanges and commissaries, and $0.44 billion for traditional installation-based QOL programs (morale, welfare and recreation, child care, voluntary education, family services, legal and chaplain services, and so on). These proposed expenditures do not include funds that will be spent to enhance the duty environment of service personnel or funds invested in their military skill and career development.

Navy QOL strategies for the 21st century require an expanded examination of the relationships between QOL investments and militarily relevant variables. This analysis must take into consideration assumptions about the future Navy and Marine Corps and their mission in the 21st century, possible effects of emerging technologies on QOL, ways in which various demographic and social changes may affect QOL perceptions, and evolving procedures and methods for delivering cost-effective human services.


Buder, S. 1990. Visionaries and Planners: The Garden City Movement and the Model Community, Oxford University Press, New York.


Defense Science Board. 1990. Achieving an Innovative Support Structure for 21st-Century Military Superiority: Higher Performance at Lower Costs, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., November.


Eltringham, R. 1997. Personal communication, Navy Quality of Life Program Office, Washington, D.C.

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