Air Guard Meets End-Strength Goal for First Time Since 2003
By Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl
Special to American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 11, 2008 The Air National Guard has met its fiscal 2008 end-strength goal of 106,700 airmen, the first time it’s met its target end strength since 2003, National Guard Bureau officials announced yesterday.
Recruiting and retention combined to produce the achievement. The Air Guard recruited 1,194 airmen in August, 107 percent of its goal of 1,116. To date for fiscal 2008, which ends Sept. 30, the Air Guard has retained 16,518 personnel, 107.3 percent of its goal of 15,390.
Air Force Lt. Col. Randy Johnson, chief of Air Guard recruiting and retention, attributed the milestone to several factors, including the hard work of recruiters and retainers and the growth of advertising campaigns and recruiting initiatives.
“A half dozen things come to mind that made this possible,” he said. “One reason was the constant leadership focus on recruiting.”
Other reasons he cited include:
-- Administrative assistants working in recruiting offices the past two years have freed up recruiters from paperwork;
-- The Guard Recruiting Assistance Program – a paid referral program in which traditional drill-status Air Guardsmen, officers and retirees earn a “finder’s fee” of $2,000 for each new recruit who enlists and reports to basic training -- has given the Air National Guard about 3,000 enlistments;
-- Expanded enlistment incentives and bonuses and personnel initiatives;
-- Robust advertising and outreach programs that include aerobatic pilot John Klatt and the Air Guard’s mobile recruiting vehicle; and
-- The new voice of Air National Guard advertising, Nashville country music recording artist Laura Bryna, who has been making appearances showcasing her “Hometown Heroes” music video.
The Army Guard exceeded its programmed end strength by nearly 1,000 soldiers. It’s now at 362,014 soldiers, 103 percent of its 351,133-soldier goal. It met its August monthly goal by recruiting 5,785 soldiers and retained 27,151 soldiers, 95 percent of its goal of 28,694.
Among the Army Guard's new recruiting programs announced this summer were the launch of a sponsored Indy Car race car and a mobile marketing campaign that lets potential recruits discover their inner “Rock Star” at fairs and music festivals throughout the country.
The Army Guard also has enlisted two superstars to attract new members and remind those already serving what the Guard is all about through a new nationwide theater advertising campaign that debuted Aug. 22.
The new “Warrior” campaign includes music from Kid Rock and features Dale Earnhardt Jr., the National Guard-sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. Kid Rock wrote a song specifically for the Army Guard campaign. The “Warrior” video is appearing in more than 3,000 theaters and on more than 27,000 screens around the country.
(Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl serves at the National Guard Bureau.)