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Posted: 10/13/2004 8:40:13 PM EDT
October 18, 2004
Recruiters at 53% of quota as new season kicks off

By Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer

As Marine recruiters hit the streets to tackle their 2005 recruiting mission, they’re not starting their daunting job from square one.

At the beginning of each fiscal year, which starts the new recruiting season, Marine Corps Recruiting Command already has thousands of “poolees” who have signed enlistment contracts, but haven’t yet shipped to boot camp.

This year, Recruiting Command has 53 percent of its required number of enlistees in the bag, said Maj. David Griesmer, a spokesman for Recruiting Command at Quantico, Va.

This “start pool” helps recruiters get through the tough fall, winter and spring months when many would-be Marines are still in high school and can’t head to boot camp.

This year’s enlistment goal for active and Reserve Marines is 39,485 — a 7 percent increase over last year’s total. However, recruiters already have 20,900 poolees in hand who signed up during fiscal 2004, but will ship to boot camp over the first four months of fiscal 2005.

“You always have to have a bank,” Griesmer said.

Corps recruiters met their 2004 goal of 36,773 recruits on Sept. 30, with 21 poolees to spare. Of that, 97.6 percent were “tier 1” poolees, who have a high-school diploma, Griesmer said. The remainder fell into the “tier 2” or “tier 3” categories that include non-high school graduates or those with a General Equivalency Diploma.

Ahead of the Army

Meanwhile, the Corps’ start pool is much healthier than the Army’s pool. Army officials must enlist 80,000 soldiers this year, but now only have 18.4 percent of them in the hopper.

The Army’s start pool is much smaller in part because the service is expanding — the recruiting mission grew by more than 5,000 in fiscal 2004 — and also because the improving economy and the war in Iraq may be discouraging some from joining. Normally, the Army’s start pool covers about 35 percent of its recruitment goal.

Only Navy recruiters have more recruits to bank on. The Navy has already contracted 67.7 percent of the 39,000 recruits needed to make its goal.

Meanwhile, the Air Force typically has about 50 percent of the recruits it needs already contracted. However, that service is in the middle of cutting its force by thousands and data on its recruit start pool is not available.

Marine Staff Sgt. Anthony Lanza, a staff noncommissioned officer in charge of a recruiting substation in Worcester, Mass., said he has his own start pool. His recruiting substation’s mission is 110 poolees for this fiscal year, about half of which he contracted before the new fiscal year began.

“The great thing about being ahead in your start pool is it gives you the time to work with your poolees,” said Lanza, a 30-year-old radio chief. “That way, they go down to recruit training and come back in dress blues.”

About three-quarters of the Corps’ nearly 21,000 start-pool recruits will ship to boot camp between October and January, Griesmer said.

Starting this winter, Lanza and other recruiters will begin to rebuild their pools to ship again the following fall and winter.

The ideal amount of time for a poolee to be in the delayed entry program is about six months, Lanza said.

“The longer you keep a graduate sitting in a pool, the longer he’s hearing about whatever else is out there.”
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