Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu announced today the 2002 active-duty Status of Forces Survey (SOFS) findings. The survey was conducted July 8-Aug 13, 2002, to assess the attitudes and opinions of the active force on a variety of personnel and policy issues. More than 38,000 servicemembers were surveyed. This included officers and enlisted personnel from each branch of service who were stationed in the Continental United States and overseas locations. The response rate was 32 percent.
The 2002 SOFS was the first of a series of under secretary of defense for personnel & readiness-sponsored Web surveys of active-duty, Reserve and DoD civilians. The new survey program is designed to allow DoD personnel the opportunity to provide senior DoD leaders with critical feedback on personnel programs and policies.
"I'm very grateful to our people for responding to this survey, especially using the new Web-based format. It's crucial that we hear from our people as we consider changes to personnel policies, Chu said. "I'm heartened that the efforts to improve compensation and the conditions of military life are reflected in their answers."
The findings from the 2002 SOFS indicate that attitudes toward personnel-related issues have improved. The survey topics cover a wide range of areas including career intent, satisfaction with aspects of military service, readiness and tempo issues, pay and benefits, and satisfaction with quality of life and family programs.
Active-duty members were satisfied with job security (83 percent), military values, lifestyle and tradition (68 percent), and exchange/commissary availability (67 percent). Even though less than half of servicemembers were satisfied with housing (29 percent), pay (38 percent), and military family support programs (41 percent), these satisfaction levels are higher than in 1999, when data were collected on the 1999 Active-Duty Survey (ADS). Only one major indicator did not show improvement between 1999 and 2002 - satisfaction with spouse employment (32 percent).
Survey findings related to permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves were also positive. Two-thirds or more of servicemembers indicated they had no problems on each of six PCS topics (e.g., childcare, temporary lodging expenses), while about half of servicemembers indicated having income-related PCS problems - loss/decrease of spouse income, spouse employment, and change in cost of living. These income-related findings were improved, however, from those obtained on the 1999 ADS.
On the survey's measures of overall satisfaction and attitudes toward staying in the military, results were positive. For example, the percentage of service members satisfied with "the military way of life" increased 12 percentage points between 1999 and 2002, up from 49 percent to 61 percent. Attitudes toward staying in the military were also better than in 1999.
Retention intentions increased 8 percentage points, from 50 percent in 1999 to 58 percent in 2002. Retention attitudes were particularly better for junior enlisted E1-E4s (up 11 percent) and junior officers O1-O3s (up 13 percent).
The SOFS findings are available on the Web at www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2003/d20030225sofa.pdf .