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Army Secretary Outlines Recruiting Initiatives

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2005 – Recent Army recruiting problems don't constitute a crisis, and a number of initiatives are being implemented to bring recruiting numbers up, the secretary of the Army said.

Meeting end-strength goals for the Army is a function of both recruiting and retention, Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey said in a recent Pentagon Channel interview.

While recruiting has been suffering, retention goals are already being exceeded. High retention rates reflect the quality of soldiers in the Army and show their dedication to their mission, Harvey said. He noted that retention rates are highest in units that are deployed.

"Our soldiers know that they're making a difference in theater, and that's a real tribute to the quality and capability of our soldiers," he said.

The active-duty Army recruiting goal of 80,000 soldiers in 2005 is the highest it's been in five years, Harvey said. The service missed monthly goals at the beginning of the year, he said, but the numbers for June, July and August have looked good.

"We're not going to make 80,000," he said. "But, because of our retention success, I would not characterize the situation in any way, shape or form as a crisis."

To prevent the situation from turning into a crisis, the Army has implemented several initiatives to improve recruiting, Harvey said.

The first initiative, which has already been completed, was to increase active-duty recruiters by 25 percent, he said. Officials are also evaluating whether more will be needed in 2006. A new automated benefit tool is being developed for recruiters, which compares a military career with a civilian career, taking into account benefits and other factors, he added.

In the area of financial benefits, Army officials are working with Congress to double the maximum amount for an initial recruitment incentive from $20,000 to $40,000, Harvey said. Only individuals enlisting into certain military occupational specialties would be eligible for the maximum amount, he noted.

Other financial benefits being developed include a $1,000 "finder's fee," which rewards soldiers for recommending potential recruits, and the Army Home Mortgage Program, which may offer soldiers down payments for homes, Harvey said.

The Army advertising budget is up 65 percent this year, and messages are being honed to ensure they reach the right audience and convey the right theme, Harvey said.

Overarching these initiatives is the "Call to Duty" program. This program brings Army leaders, congressmen, veterans organizations, and civilian leaders associated with the Army to local venues to speak about the nobility of service, he said. Harvey said this program is one that is close to his heart, since he himself serves the country.

"If you really think about it, the greatest work of life is serving this nation," he said. "I think every American should look in the mirror and say, 'How am I serving this great country? What am I doing for this country that is giving me the tremendous opportunity of peace and freedom and democracy?'"

In another effort to bolster recruiting, soldiers who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan are being teamed with recruiters nationwide, Harvey said. These soldiers, who are generally coming from units with high retention rates and morale, can provide potential recruits with experienced insight on life in the Army and, more specifically, deployments, he said.

A strong belief in the value of military service is what keeps people enlisting and re-enlisting in the Army, Harvey said. Those serving today will be able to look back with pride at what they have contributed, he said.

"They are serving this country; they are preserving peace and freedom in this country," he said. "They are part of something that is bigger than themselves. They have freed 50 million people; they are improving the quality of life for the ordinary Iraqi and Afghan citizen."

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Francis J. Harvey

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