Marines Attracting 'Great Americans'
By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2000 The Marines believe they aren't experiencing the recruiting woes of the other services because they work harder to sell the "intangibles of service life," their senior officer said.
"That's one of the keys to our success," Gen. James Jones said in an American Forces Press Service interview. "We work hard to appeal to potential recruits' sense of patriotism and the desire to work for the common good."
He said the Marine Corps' core values -- honor, courage and commitment -- appeal to the type of people the military wants.
His senior enlisted adviser agreed. "We don't grow little boys and girls to be Marines," Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Alford L. McMichael said. "These are great Americans before we get them. We're just giving them the opportunity to do extraordinary things."
Jones said that once they convince potential Marines of the merit of those values, all Marines must live them or retention would suffer. "At the end of four years (a typical enlistment), we have to have convinced them those things are real or we would experience a mass exodus," he said. "Well, that hasn't happened, so we must be doing our jobs."
"We're challenging them to accept responsibility," McMichael said. "Then it's up to our leadership to inspire, motivate and keep them on track."
McMichael said another boon to the Marine Corps' recruiting efforts is the enthusiasm of its recruiters. He said sergeants major are volunteering in record numbers to extend on recruiting duty.
"Never before have we had so many sergeants major raising their hands and volunteering to stay on recruiting duty," he said. "But they believe in the message they're giving, and they're asking to stay on and continue that mission."
McMichael and Jones both said the good economy hasn't necessarily hurt Marine recruiting because people who become Marines are looking for something other than financial wealth. They want to serve their country as United States Marines.
"You don't see Marine Corps commercials that say, 'Join the Marines for college money or a high quality of life,'" Jones said. "Our commercials say, 'Become one of the few, the proud.' You have to want to be a Marine. That's our ethos; that's what we sell."
But that's not to say benefits are any less important to Marines, he said. "You don't take a vow of poverty to serve your country, but it is more akin to having a calling than just getting a job," he added.
That seemed to be the case with Pvt. Brandon Martinek, an 18-year-old recruit from Appleton, Wis., who was in his sixth week of boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., in early December. He said he didn't even consider joining the other services. Not because he thinks poorly of them, but that he only wanted to be a Marine.
"They're the most courteous. They have the most discipline and the hardest boot camp," he said. "I felt it was the place for me."
It was definitely the Marine Corps' image that appealed to this young man. "When you think of the Army, you think of tanks. When you think of the Air Force, you think of planes; and with the Navy, it's ships," he said. "But when I think of the Marine Corps, I think of those dress blues and of how proud you must feel to wear them.
"I can't wait until I get mine."