Friday, November 04, 2005

"make the war work in its favor" ???

Army Has Plan to Boost Signups

Associated Press | October 11, 2005
WASHINGTON - The Army has a master plan for recovering from this year's painful recruiting problems [...], assembled after the Army fell more than 6,600 recruits below of its goal of 80,000 for the year that ended Sept. 30. It was the first time it had fallen short since 1999.

The Army, which has borne the largest share of the combat burden in Iraq and Afghanistan, was the only service to have fallen short, although the Marine Corps struggled for part of the year.

Opinion surveys indicate that daily reports of soldiers dying in Iraq have dampened young people's interest in joining the military [whodda thunk ?], prompting the Army to try new ways to make the war work in its favor.

For example, since July the Army has been offering prospective recruits what it calls "assignment incentive pay." That is $400 a month in extra pay for as many as 36 months if an enlistee agrees to join any of the brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division or 25th Infantry Division scheduled to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.

The Army also is encouraging combat veterans who return home on leave from Iraq or Afghanistan to meet with young people in their home towns to talk about their experiences in hopes of snagging extra recruits. The Army has found that re-enlist rates are especially high among units that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. [Huah !!]

Raymond DuBois, acting undersecretary of the Army, spearheaded the effort to identify new approaches. Some imitate recruiting practices used in the business world, and not all emphasize financial incentives.

Parts of this new strategy were put into practice several months ago; others await congressional approval. DuBois says the shifts began paying dividends this summer, when the Army exceeded its recruiting goals monthly from June through September, after missing for four straight months. [...]

When the Army saw its recruiting efforts fall drastically below expectations - starting last February and bottoming out in April with only 58 percent of that month's goal achieved - it embarked on some new approaches.

The most important may have been the assignment of hundreds of extra recruiters. The Army also has asked Congress for permission to raise the maximum enlistment bonus from $20,000 to $40,000.

Among the main features of the Army's master plan for reaching its 2006 recruiting goal:

- Adjust the way recruiters frame their sales pitches to young men and women. Instead of focusing mainly on financial incentives and other tangible benefits of joining the Army, recruiters are now being trained to take what some call the "consultative" approach. That means addressing the individual recruits' personal hopes and fears, rather than using the traditional hard sell.

- Put more effort into recruiting people who have begun their college careers but not yet earned a degree, on the assumption that some would be interested in taking a hiatus to try military service. Also, target those of high school age who are being home schooled - a potential market the Army has largely ignored.

- Make more use of what DuBois calls "lead refinements" - the use of computer technology to refine recruiters' leads on potential enlistees. Using mathematical formulas based in part on demographics, a recruiter can more easily prioritize his or her high-payoff leads and thus become more productive. Ten of the Army's 41 recruiting battalions now use this technology; the Army wants to double it to 20 or more. [...]

- Offer a $2,500 "finder's fee" to soldiers who refer a recruit who makes it through advanced individual training, a step beyond basic training. This has yet to be authorized by Congress.

[All emph. add.]

Home-schooled teens seem like a very promising target market, since many of them are being home-schooled for familial cultural or social reasons that line up well with military culture, or the ideas of duty, honor, or service to others.
The downside is that it's a pretty small pool of potential recruits, and it's not like most of them haven't already been exposed to the concept of joining the military.

Having combat vets testify also seems like a great idea.


Blogger Hey Skipper said...

An especially good idea, given the drumbeat of negative coverage.

I'll bet a lot of those guys come back convinced they have done something that will make their lives something they can hang their hats on.

November 04, 2005 6:20 PM  
Blogger Satisfeito said...

The Army Reserves is in especially poor shape. Without soldiers reenlisting, the decline of new recruits has caused the Reserves to fall drastically below it's target strength by nearly 20,000 soldiers. Without these soldiers, Congress wants it's money back resulting in cut backs on some of the Reserves more treasured programs and incentives. For example, Tuition Assistance is still unfunded for the current semester. Also, there's no gurantee that the current list of incentives and bonuses will remain in effect or increase after the current extension ends in December of this year. These lack of benefits and bonus opportunities could aggravate the current attrition rates resulting in a cyclic downward spiral until we reach... An Army of One?

November 04, 2005 11:43 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...


Based on the high re-up rates for units that have deployed, I'd say that you're right.


If Congress won't fund the benefits & bonus programmes, then we'll deserve what we're gonna get.

However, I'm confident that Congress will agree to higher pay and benefits.

The current structure of the Army Reserves is based on Cold War strategies, in which it was cheaper to put most of the support functions into the Reserves, and keep the combat arms functions on active duty.

That division of responsibilities works well enough when deployments are generally limited to a division or two, or if we were to get involved in an all-out war.

Now that we've got a limited but drawn-out war, the weaknesses of that structure have become very apparent, and so I think that we'll see some military structure realignment along with the base closures.

November 05, 2005 12:02 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I have a radical idea. Why not recruit soldiers from other countries? The payoff for a successful tour of duty is US citizenship. We could cherry-pick the best and the toughest from the world.

November 06, 2005 8:35 AM  
Blogger Satisfeito said...

In a sense we already do that. One does not need to be an american citizen to serve in the Armed Forces. However, at least in the Army's case, one would need to obtain citizenship within eight years in order to continue service past the statutory military service obligation (MSO). I know of, and have served with, several non US citizens who were as capable (and just as often more capable) than those that could claim that birthright.

November 06, 2005 11:10 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

But aren't these resident aliens in the US? I'm thinking of taking the recruiting overseas to people not living here already. Naturally we would need to target friendly countries and would have to do extensive background checks to make sure we're not infiltrated by spies for Al Quaeda or other anti-American groups. I think that we would have no problem meeting our quotas, and we'd bring in some new high-caliber Americans to boot.

November 06, 2005 5:54 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I think that it's a matter of public perception and politics, both domestic and foreign.

The idea of having an American Foreign Legion isn't new, it's been floated many times before.

Some stumbling blocks are that America doesn't like to think of herself, or appear to the world, as an Empire, and actively recruiting foreign peoples to swell the headcount of the armed forces isn't the move of a defensive force, it's typical of a conquering force.

Also, we don't want to seem to be hiring mercenaries, which is essentially what recruiting non-Americans in foreign lands would amount to.

November 07, 2005 1:45 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

oroborous, you missed my main point: the payoff for these "mercenaries" will be US citizenship, not just cash.

November 07, 2005 6:02 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

No, I got that.

The French Foreign Legion offered the same deal, plus no backround checks and a new identity.

The thing is, the countries which would allow the U.S. to overtly recruit people in-country wouldn't be first-world nations, or oppressive places where people want to emigrate for social reasons, they'd be friendly second- and third-world countries, places that people emigrate from for greater financial opportunity.

To those people, differentiating between American citizenship and a big pile of cash is splitting hairs.

Don't get me wrong, I'm for the idea, but I don't think that it's politically or diplomatically feasible.

November 07, 2005 9:16 PM  

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