Service to Country

From Belfer Center Studies in International Security

Service to Country

Personnel Policy and the Transformation of Western Militaries

Edited by Curtis Gilroy and Cindy Williams





Motivated, able, and well-trained military personnel are essential to the success of any military, and personnel policies are crucial to getting and keeping qualified servicemen and women. The transformation of personnel policies is an important element of the broader transformation occurring in Western militaries. Across Europe and North America, nations are embracing plans to change military personnel policies to build future capabilities consistent with new strategic environments and with the demographic and societal realities of the future. For many nations, a key reform is to shift from a conscript military to a smaller, all-volunteer force. Other important reforms include expanding recruitment capacity, improving working conditions, revamping career paths, overhauling compensation systems and increasing military pay, modernizing pension plans, improving the quality of life for military members and their families, and improving the post-service prospects for those who serve. Service to Country explores the ongoing transformation of military personnel policies in Europe and North America, looking at causes as well as potential costs and benefits of personnel policy transformation.

Contributors to the volume, from both Europe and North America, include experts from militaries, governments, universities, and think tanks; practitioners and scholars; economists, political scientists, sociologists, and a demographer.

ContributorsJennifer Buck, Deborah Clay-Mendez, Sylvain Daffix, Chris Donnelly, Curtis Gilroy, Keith Hartley, Hannu Herranen, Bertel Heurlin, Jolyon Howorth, Gerhard Kümmel, Juan Lopez Diaz, Karen McKenney, Mihaela Matei, Vincent Medina, Sebastian Negrusa, Cyr-Denis Nidier, Bernard Rostker, Robert St. Onge, Rickard Sandell, Peter Šveç, Vaidotas Urbelis, Domenico Villani, John Warner, Cindy Williams, John D. Winkler


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262072762 518 pp. | 6.125 in x 9.25 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262572354 518 pp. | 6.125 in x 9.25 in


Curtis Gilroy

Curtis Gilroy is Director, Accession Policy, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.

Cindy Williams

Cindy Williams is Principal Research Scientist in the Security Studies Program at MIT.


  • Experience in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq has shown how dramatically warfare has changed in recent decades. We now fight 'Wars Amongst the People' instead of 'Industrial War.' These conflicts require armies to win the battle of wills rather than the battle over territory, to change the minds of the people so as to isolate the enemy and defeat him. The new warfare calls for soldiers with greater capabilities and experience than hitherto—professionals at arms who have been trained in a wide variety of skills, including information and intelligence, languages and cultures, even media relations. As the authors of Service to Country expertly argue, obtaining and keeping these soldiers will require a transformation in personnel policies. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of successful Western militaries.

    General Sir Rupert Smith

    British Army (retired), former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and author of The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World

  • High-caliber personnel are essential for the transformation and professionalization of Western militaries. It takes sound personnel policies to forge a modern force by recruiting and retaining a nation's best and brightest, and shaping their military careers. In this well-written and thought-provoking book, the authors examine the social, economic, demographic and political factors driving nations' military personnel policies and assess these policies' promise and impact. Their key conclusion, that the militaries of Europe and North America have much to learn from each other in the area of personnel policy, is accurate and convincing.

    James L. Jones

    USMC, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe/Commander, U.S. European Command