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Marines Sign Up for Mission, Mystique, General Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2008 – The Marine Corps’ mission and mystique continue to attract high-quality recruits who join up to fight America’s enemies, that service’s senior officer said here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway (right) discusses military issues with National Journal Magazine correspondent and author James Kitfield (center) and Timothy B. Clark, editor-in-chief of Government Executive Magazine, during a Government Executive-sponsored event at the National Press Club, Feb. 14, 2008. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

All of the military services continue to meet their recruiting quotas. Yet, while some services offer recruiting bonuses or other monetary enticements, the Marines’ warrior image is the key factor that convinces sufficient numbers of young people to enlist in the Corps, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway said at a breakfast event hosted by Government Executive Magazine at the National Press Club.

“Our theme is that you are going to be a Marine if you get through training successfully,” Conway explained. “You are going to fight for your country; you should not have any doubt about that.”

The Marines are to add about 5,000 additional recruits each year as part of efforts over the next several years to bring up the service’s total active-duty strength to around 202,000 members, Conway said. Last year, he noted, the Corps signed up 7,000 of these additional enlistees.

Asked about other services’ practices of paying bonuses to attract recruits, Conway responded that the Marines “purposely are not doing it.”

Recruiters in the field tell him bonuses aren’t necessary to attract good recruits, Conway explained. In fact, he added, recruiters also said they tell prospects who want a signing bonus to inquire at the other military services.

The general said his staff noncommissioned officers are adamant in the advice they give him on the subject. They say, “Please Sir, don’t start throwing money at people. One, we can’t compete. And secondly, that’s not the kind of individual we’re looking for,” the Marine Corps commandant said.

The general praised the Marines’ sister services and emphasized that he wasn’t disparaging their important contributions to the nation’s defense.

It’s just that the Marine Corps is different, he said.

Joining the Marines is a way of life and “an emblem” of duty to country, Conway said. The Marine Corp’s fighting ability and its unique eagle, globe and anchor insignia are known worldwide.

A person who joins the Marines is required to provide an intense level of dedication to the Corps, Conway pointed out. In return, the Marine Corps strives to take good care of its members. For example, a Conway-championed initiative now provides the free-of-charge issue of the Corp’s distinctive dress uniform to recruits at boot camp. Previously, Marines had to pay for the expensive uniform out of their own pockets.

Although recruiting bonuses aren’t part of his service’s lexicon, the Marines “are paying large amounts of money to keep people” in the Corps, Conway pointed out.

“Once we get a Marine in (and) we get to know him or her and like them, our re-enlistment bonuses probably compete with anybody’s,” the general said.

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Gen. James T. Conway, USMC

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U.S. Marine Corps

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