Stress, Burnout, and Aggression: The Effects of Personnel Tempo (PERSTEMPO) on Special Operations Forces (SOF)

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Special Operations Forces (SOF) constantly face prolonged high levels of personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) with minimal time to reset. These constant demands on SOF Soldiers build stress, increase burnout within the force, and ultimately increase the prevalence of negative behaviors. The study examines the relationship between PERSTEMPO stress, burnout, and aggressive behaviors within SOF. The researcher hypothesizes that there is a positive correlation between PERSTEMPO and stress and burnout, and through this relationship, PERSTEMPO has an indirect relationship with aggressive behaviors. The study used correlational and regression analyses on an online survey comprised of open-ended and closed-ended PERSTMPO questions, the Psychological Stress Measure (PSM-9), the Burnout Measure, and the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (AGQ) given to Soldiers of the 4th PSYOP Group (A) (N = 58) to assess the relationship between PERSTEMPO, stress levels, burnout, and aggressive behavior. The correlational analysis found strong relationships between stress, burnout, and aggressive behaviors and moderately positive relationships between stress, burnout, and hours worked per week. Multiple linear regression models found that overall, PERSTEMPO could significantly predict stress levels, with work hours per week being the strongest predictor. Additionally, the models found that stress and burnout could significantly predict aggressive behavior. The study’s findings show some concerns that Commanders must address by taking realistic steps like assessing the necessity of excessive training and reevaluating their unit resiliency programs. Finally, future research should continue to dive into the adverse effects of prolonged high PERSTEMPO on Soldiers’ psychological and emotional health.
Stress, Burnout, Aggressive behaviors, Personnel tempo, Special Operations Forces