U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. Manpower Planning

Manpower Planning


Alternate Definition

The role of Manpower Planning is to establish the right mix of personnel required for a program: military (Active, Guard, and Reserve), government civilians (US and foreign nationals) and contract support manpower. Manpower analysts determine the number of people required, authorized, and available to operate, maintain, support and train for the system. Requirements are based on the range of operations during peacetime, low-intensity conflict and wartime, and should consider continuous, sustained operations, and required surge capability. 

Manpower is typically the highest cost driver in the development and sustainment of acquisition programs, and can account for 67-70 % of the program budget. When Manpower Planning is engaged along with Human Systems Integration (HSI), Program Managers (PM) have the tools to effectively manage systems and to ensure that the human element of the system is included in the pros, cons, and risks of using a program.

Alternate Definition Source
General Information

Manpower Planning Requirements

DoD Instruction (DoDI) 5000.91, Product Support Management for the Adaptive Acquistion Framework (AAF), requires the PM, with the support of the Product Support Manager (PSM), to "work with the cross-functional team to conduct a thorough analysis using analytical tools and modeling techniques to facilitate informed decisions on supply support, manpower, training, maintenance and maintenance planning, and other IPS elements."  (Note: bold text added for emphasis.)

Additional advice is provided in DoDD 1100.4, Guidance for Manpower Management, which states that:

  • "Manpower requirements are driven by workload and shall be established at the minimum levels necessary to accomplish mission and performance objectives. Manpower is a resource. Changes in manpower shall be preceded by changes to the programs, missions, and functions that require manpower resources."
  • "A formal validated process shall be used to determine mobilization, contingency, and wartime manpower requirements. Mobilization planning shall include all activities necessary to enable time-phased, scenario-specific mobilization. This process shall provide a range of options for improvements in force readiness, deployment capability, and sustainability."
  • "The mobilization manpower planning process shall be used to properly size the workforce and justify manpower requests in the programming, budgeting, and execution process."
  • "The DoD Components shall, as part of programs such as Human Systems Integration [HSI], minimize system support costs by addressing manpower affordability early in the acquisition process. If appropriate, manpower goals and parameters shall be established to ensure programs do not exceed what the Component is able to invest for operating, maintaining, and supporting the system."

Determining the Workforce Mix

The PM/PSM should evaluate the manpower required and/or available to support a new system, and consider manpower constraints when establishing contract specifications to ensure that the human resource demands of the system do not exceed the projected supply. This assessment shall determine whether the new system requires a higher, lower or equal number of personnel than the predecessor system, and whether the distribution of ranks/grades will change. Critical manpower constraints should be identified in the Departments' capability documents to ensure that manpower requirements remain within DoD Component end-strength constraints. If sufficient end strength is not available, a request for an increase in authorizations should be submitted and approved as part of the trade-off process. These manpower determinations should be based on current workforce mix instruction found in DoDI 1100.22, Policy and Procedures for Determining Workforce Mix

Manpower Planning within the HSI Process

When assessing manpower, system designers should examine labor-intensive, “high-driver” tasks. Moreover, these high-driver tasks might result from hardware design or hardware/software interface design problems. These tasks can sometimes be eliminated during engineering design by increasing equipment or software performance. Based on a top-down functional analysis, an assessment should be conducted to determine which functions should be automated, eliminated, consolidated or simplified to keep the manpower numbers within constraints.

Manpower requirements should be based on task analyses, which consider all factors, including fatigue; cognitive, physical and sensory overload, and environmental conditions (e.g., heat/cold); and reduced visibility. Additionally, manpower requirements should be calculated in conjunction with personnel capabilities, training and human factors engineering trade-offs.

Tasks and workload for individual systems, systems-of-systems and families-of-systems should be reviewed together to identify commonalities, merge operations and avoid duplication. The cumulative effects of systems-of-systems, families-of-systems and related systems integration should be considered when developing manpower requirements.

When reviewing support activities, the PM and PSM should work with manpower and functional representatives to identify process improvements, design options or other initiatives to reduce manpower requirements, improve the efficiency or effectiveness of support services or enhance the cross-functional integration of support activities.

The support strategy should consider the approach used to provide for the most-efficient and cost-effective mix of manpower and contract support. The support strategy should also identify any cost, schedule, performance issues; or uncompleted analyses that could impact the PM's ability to execute the program.

Manpower Planning Documentation

The requirements of manpower planning for Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) are included in OSD Cost Assessment (CA) and Program Evaluation (CAPE)'s Operating and Support Cost-Estimating Guide for inclusion in the Cost Analysis Requirements Description (CARD), which is required whenever the CAPE is involved in the acquisition office. Additionally, manpower-planning documentation is used by Service components to estimate the number and types of people needed for specific programs and by personnel and training communities to plan and forecast their program requirements.

At program initiation, the Service component manpower authority and PM, in consultation with the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA), should agree to reporting requirements and assumptions for manpower planning based on ACAT level and on whether the program has significant manpower implications.

Required and recommended data elements of manpower planning should meet CARD and/or Life Cycle Cost estimate content requirements. Lower level ACAT/Abbreviated Acquisition Programs (AAP) with little to no manpower implications/risks may not need extensive manpower planning documentation. PMs should agree upon required manpower planning with the component manpower authority. The component manpower authority should approve the manpower planning for MDAP and designated manpower-significant programs prior to submission of the program CARD at major milestones.

In terms of format, manpower planning documents are Service and program-specific. Therefore, there is no overarching template or tool available. 

Total Force Planning

Additionally, the Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD (P&R)) promulgates separate and specific guidance concerning acquisition-related Total Force manpower planning. This guidance addresses the enduring need to provide Total Force manpower projections -- active/reserve military, Government civilians, and contracted services for the Independent Cost Estimates/CARD. This ensures that manpower plans are feasible and affordable and result in desired operational and support capabilities.