Issue Date: September 13, 2004
The Army is building a bigger force ASAP. Nearly 1,000 will be drafted into recruiting
By Jim Tice
Times staff writer
The Army is opening a new campaign in the global war on terrorism, and it will be conducted inside U.S. borders.
The mission: Over the next two years, recruit roughly four brigades’ worth of soldiers beyond previous goals.
For the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, that means bringing in 80,000 recruits, a boost of 10,000 more than what had been planned. The Army is accelerating a force buildup to feed the high demand for troops in global hot spots and to support an ambitious reorganization of combat units.
To meet that objective, nearly 1,000 soldiers in the ranks of corporal through sergeant first class will be drafted to the active-component recruiting team, and 380 for the Army Reserve. All total, 7,640 NCOs — the rough equivalent of a division’s worth of enlisted leaders — will constitute the production recruiting force by fall 2005.
Col. Dave Gilbert, Recruiting Command G3, said the command expects the plus-up will be implemented over a six-month period and will include a combination of detailed recruiters, senior noncommissioned officers in the 79R recruiting specialty and “a handful” of civilian contract recruiters.
Recruiters will be under the gun to produce a huge population of new soldiers so that at the end of 2006, Army end-strength will stand at 512,000, a boost of 30,000 over today’s force. Recruiters will be responsible for two-thirds of that growth.
“Our recruiters are without a doubt the best asset we can put in front of America to tell the story of what being a soldier is all about,” said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the Army’s chief recruiter.
The Army also launched an initiative Sept. 1 called the Special Recruiter Assistance Program, under which young enlisted soldiers returning from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan will be sent to their hometowns, to assist local recruiters. The program is strictly voluntary, but Pentagon officials think in the neighborhood of 1,000 combat vets will take part in the coming year.
“This is designed to put a hometown face on the global war on terrorism,” Gilbert said.
Bringing and keeping them in
More recruiters, bigger bonuses and an array of innovative marketing techniques will play key roles in the Army’s drive to add 30,000 soldiers over the next two years.
Recruiting Command’s active-component 2005 mission will increase to 80,000, nearly 10,000 more than the opening goal for this year, Rochelle said.
Personnel officials expect that one-third of the end-strength increase will come from re-enlistments, particularly among first-term and midcareer soldiers. The retention mission increases from this year’s level of 56,000 to 67,000 in 2005.
In recent weeks, the Selective Re-enlistment Program has been revamped to support that mission. All bonuses are paid in a lump sum at the time of re-enlistment, and career-minded soldiers have greater influence over where and when they will be assigned.
With two-thirds of the end-strength increase projected to come from accessions, the command faces a daunting challenge and some major questions regarding public support for a two-front war.
Two concerns dominate thinking at the Pentagon and at Recruiting Command headquarters:
•How long will young people be favorably inclined toward Army service?
•Will parents, relatives, teachers, coaches and other youth “influencers” continue to support the military?
This is the first time in its 30-year history that the all-volunteer force has been subjected to the emotions and unpredictable events of an extended war. Recruiters and manpower planners have no model for plotting strategy, other than to aggressively market the Army from several angles.
Ironically, and probably fortunately, the Army’s upsizing begins just as the Navy and Air Force are downsizing. Army officials are hopeful that many departing sailors and airmen will extend their military service by becoming soldiers.
The potential for this program, called Blue to Green, is enormous.
The Navy is slated to cut 60,000 spaces in seven years, including 13,000 by 2006. The Air Force has scheduled 20,000 for 2005, with potentially thousands more to follow later in the decade.
Recruiting Command is on track to reach the 2004 active-component goal of 77,500 by about the middle of September and to complete the fiscal year on Sept. 30 slightly above that level, officials said. The annual recruiting campaign began with a goal of 72,000 but was increased by 5,500 midyear to support the 30,000 end-strength expansion.
The command also recruits for the Army Reserve. “It will take us until the end of the year [Sept. 30] to complete that mission of 21,200 with success,” Rochelle said. “I predict we will hit that one at about 101 percent.”
Lining them up early
With the 2004 missions essentially completed, Rochelle said the command will push hard in the upcoming year to build up the Delayed Entry Program, so that by Oct. 1, 2005, the DEP population will give recruiters a sizable jump on the 2006 mission.
The DEP, which the Army has renamed the Future Soldier Program, is a pool of enlistees who have been screened, tested and are waiting to attend initial entry training.
Young people can remain in the FSP for up to 12 months. The program is the Army’s savings account of future soldiers. A recruit who signed up in November 2004 but does not go to basic training for a year, for example, will count toward the 2005 recruiting mission.
“Ideally, I’d like to see the DEP at 35 percent [of goal], but minimally no less than 25 percent,” Rochelle said. ;
Officials note that the entry FSP for 2005 stands at 22 percent. While certainly lower than desired, the future soldier population has been depleted in recent months because of the rush to fill training seats related to the recruiting mission increase early this year.
Entry FSP levels have fluctuated widely in recent years, ranging from 18 percent five years ago to a record 45 percent last year.
Rochelle said that if the Army is successful in replenishing the FSP for 2006, the command may be able to reduce its recruiting force, returning some of its NCOs to the field army.
Show them the money
In early August, the Army updated its recruiting incentives program with sizable increases to cash bonuses.
“I don’t think these young people are necessarily looking for something that has intrinsic value, such as the Army College Fund and bonuses,” said Frank Shaffery, Recruiting Command’s deputy chief of operations (G3). “However, these incentives give them a path to follow after service with the Army.”
Shaffery, one of the Army’s most experienced recruiters, said, “I think service to country is the number one motivator for a young person to enlist, followed by a desire to earn money for college.” ;
“Our target audience, or market, is very, very inclined toward service to country. They’re a throwback to the World War II generation,” Rochelle said.
Rochelle said he generally is satisfied with the package of incentives available for 2005.
the maximum combination of cash bonuses for a three-year enlistment has been increased to $10,000 for most of the Army’s 150 entry-level jobs, and to $15,000 for some high-priority jobs. Previously, the maximum total for three-year bonuses was $6,000.
The Army made a strategic decision about five years ago to recruit college students, not only for the Reserve Officer Training Corps, but for the enlisted force, as well. The campaign steadily has caught hold, so that 26 percent of the enlistees this year have college credits. That compares to 21 percent in 2002 and 24 percent in 2003. The goal for 2005 is 30 percent.
The emphasis on quality is reflected in the most recent round of changes to the incentives program, including an Aug. 27 increase to the Army College Fund.
The maximum benefit under the Montgomery GI Bill combined with the Army College Fund jumped from $50,000 to $70,344. The College Fund is available to applicants who qualify for selected military occupational specialties, have a high school diploma and score in the top half of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. All enlistees are eligible to enroll in the Montgomery GI Bill.;;
Recruiting Command also has increased the standard enlistment bonus program for applicants with college credentials.
For example, applicants with a bachelor’s degree can earn $8,000 for enlisting; those with an associate’s degree, $6,000; and those with 30 to 59 semester hours of college, $3,000.
Cash incentives can be combined with either the College Loan Repayment Program or the Army College Fund, but not both. The repayment program can pay up to $65,000 in qualifying student loans.
Just seems a bad idea to depend on man power. Kind of sounds like NK and China.
It's not just depending on man power...We've needed the size of the Army upped for a while....in 1988 the Army had 18 divisions.....now it has 10.
Bush have increased the funding to the Army a much higher percentage than the manpower.