By COL (Ret) Robert L. Manning, President, AGCRA
Today's All volunteer Army faces recruiting challenges that require all our support. To remain the strongest Army in the world means consistently recruiting the best young talent America offers and meeting stated recruiting goals. Recently, this has become more taxing on our recruiting force for several reasons. I will address only the reasons where AGCRA members can have an impact.
Reason #1: The eligible pool of qualified talent has been shrinking for decades. Military recruiters are keenly aware of the three M’s of a qualified future Soldier: Medical, Moral, and Mental. Future Soldiers must be able to handle the physical demands of being a United States Army Soldier. They must be outstanding citizens relatively free of having adverse police reports, and they must be able to score well enough on ASVAB entry tests to be able to handle the rigors of sophisticated systems now employed by the Army and other service branches. To become a future Soldier, an applicant must meet the Medical, Moral, and Mental standards.
Reason #2: Even if prospective Army applicants are qualified, they must have the propensity to serve in the military and then choose the Army versus one of the other services. History would suggest that recruiting competition is very high among the services and remains so today. There is currently a reduced number of potential prospects with a propensity to serve. It could be argued that decades of lower service rates in the latter part of the 20th Century and early 21st Century, especially when compared to the post-WWII, Korea, and Vietnam periods (1945-1975), could be a major contributing factor. The period between 1945 - 1975 witnessed high numbers of those who served and would later become veterans. In many cases, these same veterans, by their example of service, influenced family members, friends, and others to serve. The Army was more visible to mainstream America simply by the strength of its veterans population. Even if prospects are qualified and willing to serve, will they make the Army their service of choice? I believe the odds improve significantly if Soldiers and veterans alike share their respective Army stories with those who may be willing to serve.
Reason #3: We have an economy that does not favor recruiting. While good for the country, low unemployment means fewer overall prospects in the available pool to recruit from. Potential applicants already have jobs and are getting by just enough to not look to the military as an employment option.
The reasons listed above, as well as other reasons, are causing stress in our Army. Not meeting recruiting goals impacts every Soldier and Civilian in the force. So, what can the AGCRA and its members do to help with our current recruiting challenges? Regarding the three reasons above, this is what we are asking of our Chapters and our membership.
Reach out to local recruiting stations and recruiters and assist in generating qualified leads and provide referrals for recruiters to follow up on. With each lead or referral, you become a recruiting force multiplier, and this helps the Army to meet its recruiting goals.
Share your Army and AG stories with young qualified prospective applicants and their families so they can hear directly from a Soldier what the Army is all about. From my four years of recruiting experience, nothing beats a Soldier's personal story in influencing others to join the Army.
Not every qualified applicant is employed or attending college. Generally speaking, many are still finding their way as they transition to adulthood, and the Army provides them the opportunity to serve their country, be employed, gain college credits while serving, and other long-term benefits that will help them later in life. Reach out to these potential future Soldiers and talk to them about the Army.
Helping the Army with its recruiting mission benefits us all by having a stronger Army and a safer Nation. I’m often asked, “What’s in it for me to be a member of the AGCRA?” Or, “Why is the AGCRA important?" In addition to the many other reasons why the AGCRA is essential, add helping our Army achieve its critically important recruiting mission.
Shields Up! Defend and Serve!
Robert L. Manning
Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army