General Cites Influencers as Part of Recruiting Challenge
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., June 17, 2005 The greatest challenge facing recruiters is the people who influence young men and women of the "Millennium Generation" not to serve, the commander of the Army Recruiting Command said here today.
Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command, speaks with reporters at Fort George G. Meade, Md., June 17. He said people who are the key influencers of young people today pose the biggest challenge to recruiting. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"Influencers are clearly having an impact right now on our ability to successfully recruit -- unquestionably so," said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, who was here to take part in a change-of-command ceremony for the 1st Recruiting Brigade.
At a news conference following the ceremony, the general pointed out that recruiting is getter harder because parents don't want recruiters, "who simply want to tell the Army story, who we are and what it is we do for this great nation," to sit down and talk with their children.
"The one characteristic that is very honorable and respectable about 'millennials' is that they listen and they generally heed the advice of their advisers," Rochelle said.
"Whether we're talking parents, coaches, teachers, guidance counselors, it matters not. They take all of that on board, then they filter it and process it," the general explained.
Rochelle's comments come as the Army, for the fourth consecutive month, failed to reach its recruiting goal. He said recruiters today have to contact as many as 100 people before getting one person to sit down to listen to the Army's story, and "that number is rising."
The general said his message to influencers and parents is that "serving in America's Army is perhaps one of the most noble things that a young man or woman can do today."
"Every soldier who serves does so with the pride of all of America," he noted. "It is tremendously noble. Does it come with some sacrifice and danger? Absolutely."
But, he added, "that nobility is something that they should recognize and encourage."
Despite the challenges, the general said, the recruiting command will give "everything it has" to meet the goal of 80,000 new recruits in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30. "We're still focused very much on 100 percent success," he said.
Rochelle expressed hope that recruiting numbers will get better soon, especially during the upcoming summer, when high school graduates will be faced with the question of what to do next.
"Typically, we get a lift in the summer months," he said. "The question will be how much of a lift. I'm hoping for a very good lift."
The general said the Army hopes to bring in new recruits by increasing signing bonuses to up to $40,000, a move that will require congressional authorization. Programs also are in place to give soldiers tours of military installations to give them a feel for Army life, and another program partners with business to guarantee new recruits priority interviews right when they complete training or military service.
He said about 100 companies have signed on with the Army in the "Partnership for Youth Success," including the Dell Corp., Southwest Airlines and Sears Logistics.
"What these companies realize is that these young soldiers, after completion of military service, bring a quality that's frankly irreplaceable," Rochelle said.
The general said his order to "stand down" recruiters in March was a result of reports in the media that recruiters were using forceful and unfair tactics to enlist new soldiers. He said the move was intended to "refocus recruiters on Army values."
"We represent one of the most respected organizations in our society and a values-based organization," he said. "Therefore, the focus was exactly on that -- our Army values."
The general said the standdown did not result in any policy changes in how the Army governs its recruiting. "We've not changed anything in how we recruit tactically," he said, "nor policywise, which governs the how."
Meanwhile, Rochelle brushed off questions about the quality of recruits joining the military. "Are we looking at lowering quality? Absolutely not," he asserted. He said he is very pleased with the "magnificent young men and women" joining today's Army.
"You cannot help to be impressed by the fact that they are very much like a throwback to the World War II great generation," he said. "They really are inclined to serve."