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on the part of the individual members. The details of service are strictly and widely regulated to ensure smooth operation and equity in a very large organization. First, the Army has a fixed-rank structure, determined by federal law, with the number of incumbents fixed at each rank. Individuals who enter the Army generally do so at the very lowest level. Since there is no lateral entry into the organization, as there is in most civilian enterprises, the Army must "grow its own" employees and leaders. Individuals who remain in service form a pipeline to higher grades or levels of authority and experience in occupations.
Second, Army enlisted personnel serve fixed terms of service, although the Army has experienced a first-term attrition rate (that is, recruits who fail to complete their first obligated term of service) of approximately 30 percent since the end of conscription in 1973. Unlike procedures in the civilian sector, employee dissatisfaction cannot usually be translated into an immediate resignation or separation from duty because of contractual requirements. Also, Army personnel are not allowed to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining or for claims regarding working conditions, pay, or benefits.
Third, the pay structure of the Army is fixed. It is entirely determined by rank and time in service, although there is the option of supplementary or special pay and bonuses (such as for reenlistment or service extension of persons in hard-to-fill specialties). A key element of the pay system is that bonuses or merit pay cannot be used in individual cases for rewards or incentives. Merit is recognized through awards (nonmonetary) and medals, whereas superior performance over the longer-term may be rewarded with special honors, early selection (within limits) for promotion to the next higher rank, or selection for a higher position of leadership within the rank pyramid. Military compensation also includes many facets not found in civilian employment, such as pay allowances, benefits, and supplementary pay for support of dependents. In addition, the retirement system requires a minimum of 20 years of service before qualification (unless a special release program authorizes early retirement, as was the case during the force reduction of the 1990s).
Fourth, the conduct of the Army's members is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, along with the U.S. criminal