Recruiters' Hard Work Credited With Driving Up Enlistment Rates
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 12, 2005 Hard work by a reinforced recruiting team that's able to offer more attractive incentives for a wider range of would-be recruits is proving to be the formula for success in attracting new members into the military, a top military official said today.
Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, credited recruiters for the promising recruiting statistics for August released today.
Every service met or exceeded its monthly active-duty recruiting goal, and three of the six reserve components met or exceeded their August goals.
The Air Force achieved 104 percent of its active-duty goal; the Navy, 103 percent; and both the Army and Marine Corps, 102 percent.
In the reserve components, the Marine Corps Reserve met 119 percent of its August goal; the Air National Guard, 108 percent; and the Air Force Reserve, 101 percent.
Defense officials expressed optimism about the two services that fell short of their reserve-component goals in August, but still had improved over their July rates.
The Army National Guard met 82 percent of its August recruiting goal, up from 78 percent in July, and the Army Reserve met 91 percent of its August goal, compared to 80 percent in July, officials reported.
Navy Reserve figures were not available, due to system failures at its personnel center in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
In terms of retention, all services met or exceeded their active-duty goals for August, officials said. Both the Army and Air National Guard exceeded their August goals, and indications were that August losses within the other reserve components were within acceptable levels.
Defense officials are optimistic that these numbers reflect a positive trend service- and component-wide after some experienced lower-than-hoped-for recruiting numbers last spring. That trend began to turn in June, when new high school graduates began filing into their recruiting offices and enlisting.
Despite this positive sign, Carr said some services are still likely to come up short of their year-end goals. These include the active Army and Army National Guard, and to a lesser extent, the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and possibly the Air National Guard, he said.
Recruiters, whose numbers were hiked during the spring recruiting slump, have worked doggedly to reverse that trend, said Carr, who called the August statistics "a tribute to their hard work."
In addition, more signing bonuses are being offered to a wider group, giving recruiters more tools to attract new members into the force, he said. An additional benefit package that will increase enlistment bonuses beyond the current $20,000 ceiling is still being considered by Congress, Carr said.
In the meantime, Carr said 24/7 news coverage about Hurricane Katrina relief operations, and the critical role the military is playing, can't help but impact on recruiting numbers in the months ahead.
That's expected to be particularly significant for the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, who make up the bulk of the uniformed relief effort, with more than 46,000 of their members participating.
"There's a sense that when the military assumes control of an operation, it has the quality of leadership and the agility of performance among the whole team that's got to be the envy of government," Carr said.
Recruiters are hopeful that confidence translates into more people wanting to be a part of such a team.
"I think the American people see the missions that the armed forces are doing, and particularly in response to national disaster, as being things that they can quickly and compassionately identify with," Carr said. "And that's helpful (for recruiting) as well."
The all-volunteer force has developed into an organization that would exceed the wildest imaginations of those who created it, Carr said.
"If we looked 30 years back, the framers of the all-volunteer force would not have believed the agility, the compassion, and the quality of the performance of the volunteer military," he said. " It would be an extraordinary revelation and fulfillment to them to see these people doing what they are doing today, often in areas we haven't even taught them what to do. They just figure it out better than we ever could have guessed."
That applies both overseas, where the U.S. military is fighting the war on terror, and at home, supporting missions ranging from supporting hurricane relief efforts to fighting wildfires to maintaining homeland defense, he said.
Regardless of whether it's overseas or in the United States, today's military members "face a greater number of ambiguous circumstances, yet they figure it out and they do the right thing and the ethical thing," Carr said.