The Department of Defense has invested substantially in human capital development to meet its growing need for expertise in critical skills that are essential to U.S. national security objectives. These skills include cybersecurity, science, technology, engineering, math, innovation, computer science and critical languages. DOD asked IDA to assess the effectiveness of recruitment and development programs targeted to improve the availability of skills critical. As part of our analysis, IDA conducted 62 interviews with 127 individuals including recruiters, hiring managers, personnel specialists and a range of stakeholders. We also examined existing data on DOD’s outreach, education, and recruiting programs and other individual-level data to identify common factors that contribute to programs’ successes or failures. Based on the insights we gained from these interviews and data sources, we offer 12 recommendations for how DOD can improve the effectiveness of its recruitment and education programs that supply mission-critical skills.