When the military needs to determine how many soldiers or officers to put in the field based on grade, skill, and years of service, they turn to mathematical programming. The Army has a particular system called the Manpower Long-Range Planning System (MLRPS) which enables it to meet the manpower needs for 7 to 20 year planning horizons. Analysts are able to effectively use the MLRPS, because it can simulate gains, losses, promotions and reclassifications, information essential for assessing personnel needs.
The MLRPS model was designed in 1982-83 and it is comprised of two major parts: 1) A Flow Model, and 2) An Optimization Model (linear program). The Flow Model deals with projected inventory, departures, promotions, and skill migrations for the servicemen (enlisted personnel, warrant officers, and commissioned officers). The Optimization Model analyzes how the Army can obtain the desired future workforce structure. To do this the enlistments, departures, promotions, and skill migrations are all included in the model and used to determine long-term manpower requirements.
The Army's use of a linear goal-programming model with 9,060 equations, and 28,730 variables may seem overwhelming. However, with the implementation of computer technology, a problem of this magnitude can be solved in less than five minutes. To date, the Army has been quite satisfied with the progress mathematical modeling has allowed it to make.