Recruiting Initiatives May Bolster Army Reserve Accessions
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2008 Though Army Reserve recruiting fell short of January’s goal, the component is meeting its fiscal year goal as recruiting initiatives continue to attract qualified men and women.
The Army Reserve missed its goal of 3,389 by 132 recruits, or 4 percent, according to figures published today by the Defense Department. In a recent interview, however, the Army Reserve’s senior enlisted soldier expressed optimism about new recruiting programs that might usher in positive trends.
Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Caffie indicated high expectations for the Army Reserve Recruiting Assistance Program, which compensates reservists $2,000 for each recruit they mentor through the enlistment process. ARRAP, unveiled in July, is similar to a program created by the Army National Guard. In April, the Army’s active duty component is expected to introduce its own version.
“The (Army) understands that this program has been extremely successful for the National Guard, and we expect it to successful (for the Army Reserve) as well,” Caffie told American Forces Press Service during a Feb. 4 interview.
More than 29,100 Army Reserve soldiers have registered as recruiting assistants, Caffie said, according to the latest figures available during the interview. In fiscal 2007, 218 recruits joined the Army Reserve through a recruiting assistant. In fiscal 2008, the program helped 663 recruits enlist. One assistant Caffie met helped recruit 28 reservists, translating to a whopping bonus of $56,000.
The program allows reservists to volunteer online as recruiting assistants. Assistants receive a debit card worth $1,000 when a recruit they have mentored signs a contract with the Army Reserve. The Reserve pays the additional $1,000 when the recruit enters basic training, Caffie said.
The command sergeant major noted that the Army Reserve is in the midst of changing from a “strategic” to an “operational” force, requiring of its soldiers a level of training, skills -- and in some cases, battle experience -- comparable to the active duty force. As the component transforms to better support an increased operational tempo and a greater need for civilian-acquired skills possessed by reservists, Caffie advocates a boost in benefits.
“My recommendation is that the enlisted bonus is increased from $20,000 to $30,000,” he said. “As it stands now, we pay for two years of college; I’d like to pay for four years of college so you give them incentive to stay with the program.”
Caffie suggested that the Army Reserve pay for travel expenses incurred by reservists who have to trek farther than 50 miles to attend weekend training. He also recommended reimbursing reservists for lodging and meals during training.
“Any out-of-pocket expenditures are deducted from the salary that soldier makes during the battle assembly,” he said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to equate that it’s expensive to wear this uniform (without reimbursement).”
Caffie said the Army Reserve continues efforts to provide potential recruits a “complete package,” including assisting recruits in developing civilian careers. To achieve this end, Caffie said his boss, Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, has cemented relationships between the reserve and the private sector.
Stultz, a former operations manager for Proctor and Gamble, has worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Trucking Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and members of the medical community, among others, in an effort to create employment partnerships.
“So entering this agreement with American Trucking Association, several major trucking companies are saying, ‘We will hire each person that’s in the Army Reserve, and we will continue to support them (while) serving in the Army Reserve,” Caffie noted.
“General Stultz and I met with the National Sheriffs’ Association (to) try to blend the gap so that when young soldiers come off active duty that we approach them with a complete packet,” he continued. “The National Sheriffs’ Association is looking for the same people the Army is looking for: someone who is drug-free (and) has strong values (like) a young person coming off active duty.”
Caffie was careful to distinguish that instead of providing jobs, the Army Reserve is interested in helping recruits establish careers. Careers are distinct, he said, because they include health benefits, retirement pay and other amenities.
“All I want to do is give them an option,” Caffie said. “The option is, if you join the Army Reserve, I can give you more. If you want to drive a truck and that’s your profession, we can help assist you in getting a career.
“Those are the types of initiatives that we are starting in the Army Reserve,” Caffie said, “and I think it’s a new trend.”