Recruiting Command - A Broadening Experience
March 15, 2010
- Recruiting Command provides great opportunities for leaders
Leaders assigned to USAREC have a unique opportunity to broadly develop skills in a wide variety of areas that will serve them and the Army well for many years. I had the opportunity to see this first-hand as the Commanding General of this wonderful organization.
USAREC provides a unique opportunity for leaders to broaden their experiences in a range of areas including those common to most units such as leadership and training, but it also offers significant opportunities to develop a broad range of skills in public speaking, marketing and advertising, and engagement with government, business and education leaders, to name just a few.
Leaders in USAREC operate in an environment with small units dispersed across the country engaging with the American public. Beyond the many skills that a Soldier develops in a very challenging environment, service in USAREC is extremely rewarding.
Leaders work with extraordinarily dedicated Soldiers and civilians who are focused on the important mission of providing the strength of our Army - our Soldiers.
Leadership is equally important in USAREC as it is in any other part of the Army, particularly given the dispersion of units. Soldiers serve in recruiting stations that are spread across the country.
Recruiting stations have five to seven Soldiers, on average, so there are no platoon, company or battalion formations. Effective communications are essential for success. Officers and non-commissioned officers must lead in a way that motivates Soldiers while ensuring accomplishment of the mission.
The demand for strong leadership is so important that Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, former 18th Airborne Corps commander who once served as a recruiting company commander, described leadership in USAREC as "leadership in the purest form."
While permanent recruiters, Military Occupational Specialty 79R, generally do not leave USAREC, a small number of them have deployed and are developing leadership skills in Iraq and Afghanistan. USAREC converted some of its 79R - permanent recruiters - to 79S - Retention NCOs - who then deploy with divisions and separate brigades across the Army.
Similar programs have been arranged to give permanent recruiters the opportunity to serve in leadership positions in basic training and other parts of the Army. USAREC continues to transform organizationally, culturally and operationally. Many of the changes are executed by junior leaders within the organization.
As an example, physicals for medical professionals considering the Army were always conducted in the same location as other recruits, the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). These physicals did not showcase the great medical care professionals in the Army. With the help of the Army surgeon general, then Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, and further supported by Lt. Gen. Schoomaker, new procedures were implemented to conduct these physicals in military treatment facilities such as Walter Reed.
On the first trial of this program, only three of 23 medical professionals had committed to the Army on the morning of their physicals at Walter Reed. At the end of the day, 18 of 23 decided to join the Army. Today, over 90 percent of medical professionals visiting the medical treatment facilities for their physicals make the decision to serve in the Army.
Captain James Jones, working with the newly formed Medical Recruiting Brigade, made this program successful through his tireless personal efforts. Recently promoted to major, Jones, now serves a physician's assistant to the President in the White House. Strong leadership is essential for success in the demanding environment of recruiting.
USAREC provides the opportunity for officers and non-commissioned officers to innovate, create, and grow as leaders.
Training is another area where leaders continue to develop their skills in USAREC. The large dispersion of units requires leaders to train in many different and unique formats. Once a year, battalions come together for their annual training conferences to recognize the success of their best Soldiers and civilians and to train on critical skills. However, quality training is required every day, in small groups, often one-on-one and through unique automation techniques. Starting with hands-on recruiter training at the Recruiting and Retention School, Soldiers learn the basics of recruiting.
Every Soldier carries a laptop which serves as their "weapon" as they perform daily recruiting duties. Soldiers can conduct their work at homes across America with a program called Future Soldier Remote Reservation System.
They sit with young men and women who are interested in the military, along with their parents, in the comforts of their home while reviewing more than 150 different military occupational specialties. High-tech recruiting tools are utilized by Soldiers including Web-based tools such as the Graphical Accession Mapping and Analysis Tool (GAMAT). GAMAT allows Soldiers to see the terrain in real time, providing situational awareness of the area of operation with key overlays including high schools, colleges, homes, businesses and many other factors key to recruiting success.
Automation tools like GAMAT, Future Soldier Remote Reservation System and many others make training an area where leaders will continue to hone their skills while assigned to USAREC. Public speaking and engagement Soldiers have many opportunities to further develop public speaking skills while serving in USAREC.
Recruiters have proudly represented the Army through local, regional, and national engagements. Engagements are both positive and negative, but all present opportunities for Soldiers to tell their Army story which is always something that Americans want to hear.
Captain Will Griffin represented the Army on the national evening news after he and his Soldiers departed a university job fair due to unrest by student protestors. When the anchor asked Griffin whether the students that protested should lose their federal funds, he explained that the government use of federal funds is not his area of responsibility. He went on to say that Soldiers protect the freedoms that allow students to speak freely, but that he was disappointed in how the protestors chose to express their views.
Master Sgt. Ricky L. Webb had a rare opportunity to testify on the Hill and he represented the Army extremely well. He spoke about the challenges of recruiting during one of the most difficult years for the All-Volunteer Force, and he gave Congress a few ideas on how they could assist. He was the consummate professional and did a brilliant job in representing the Army.
While these national level engagements are not the norm for junior leaders in the command, they highlight the range of opportunities, and expectations for those serving in the command. Junior and senior leaders in USAREC have a unique opportunity to engage with a wide variety of leaders including those from government, business and education to name just a few.
General officers and senior officers and noncommissioned officers regularly visit recruiters in hometowns across America. Recruiters are involved with local mayors and members of Congress.
Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) and Reserve Ambassadors assist recruiters with active and reserve recruiting on behalf of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of the Army Reserve, respectively. They do this by opening many doors for Soldiers. With all of the work in high schools and universities, Soldiers are constantly engaging educators in the classroom, as well as principals, coaches and university deans and presidents all across America.
This is a special time in the history of the All-Volunteer Army.
While few Americans will wear the uniform, many civilians and their organizations want to help the Army. Organizing the efforts of the many individuals and groups that want to assist the Army is very important. Working with Weber Shandwick, a leading public relations firm, and McCann Erickson, the marketing agency for the Army, USAREC started a grassroots advisory board in the Dallas Recruiting Battalion that brings together organizations from government, education, professional sports, media and many others into a quarterly forum where they discuss opportunities to assist the Army.
The Dallas grassroots advisory board arranged a meeting in the Dallas football stadium to provide the Army an opportunity to speak with educators. Retired Col. Marc R. Hildenbrand, Vice President at Hillwood International, and Dallas-Fort. Worth mayor Michael J. Moncrief have been active co-leaders of the grassroots advisory board, which includes many other community leaders coming together to support the Army. Specialist Brian Heffernan, Dallas Battalion, had the opportunity to discuss Army education opportunities with 25 superintendents who covered over half a million students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Leaders from across the Army are encouraged to visit their high schools and colleges and participate in engagement events in order to better understand and assist in the recruiting effort. Local recruiting units can assist with arranging the proper venue.
Marketing and Advertising Marketing and advertising are areas where USAREC Soldiers have a very unique opportunity to develop skills that they would not normally learn in other assignments. Through active engagements with local newspapers, magazines, radio, television and many other outlets, USAREC Soldiers can tell the Army Story in a unique and special way.
They are engaged with the American public in many different exciting venues such as NASCAR, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), sports teams, medical conferences, colleges and high school activities, and many more.
From local activities such as the Chicago Auto Show, to engagement opportunities available on goarmy.com, Soldiers have access to many marketing and advertising tools to assist in their recruiting effort. America's Army Video, one of the most popular games in the world, gives young men and women the opportunity to explore the Army virtually. The Real Heroes action figures showcase Soldiers and their contributions to the defense of freedom.
The Virtual Army Experience provides an interactive experience of Soldiering in a high-tech, hands-on, environment that stresses teamwork and leadership while men and women take part in a virtual mission. Colonel Casey Wardynski from West Point and his America's Army team have been recognized at the national level for their ingenuity, expertise and success in this area.
Army Families in USAREC
The strength of our Army families is vital success in Recruiting Command. A new Soldier in recruiting once described service in USAREC to his spouse.
He said, "I've been shot at, blown up, served in Iraq and Afghanistan, but never experienced anything as challenging as recruiting duty. Consider me deployed, but I'll be home most nights."
There is no question that recruiting is challenging duty, but it is also rich with the rewards of serving for an important cause while also developing a broad range of skills. Families are an important part of the USAREC team. All of the family programs in tactical units are necessary in USAREC where Soldiers and families are dispersed and living in communities that may or may not have any understanding of the military. USAREC uses the annual training conferences to bring spouses together to help them prepare for the great contributions that they make to support their Soldiers.
Military Family Life Consultants provide USAREC families private and confidential support in addressing life skills, such as anger management, conflict resolution, parenting and other important areas. Financial counselors assist families with financial issues, goals and plans for the future. Military leaders along with the family support advisor assistant utilize a wide variety of important programs to assist Soldiers and families in Recruiting Command.
Soldiers who want to broaden their skills should not avoid an assignment away from tactical units. Some of our most senior leaders in the Army, such as those shown below, have served in USAREC as junior officers and noncommissioned officers. Former Sergeant Major of the Army Glen Morrell was the last senior noncommissioned officer in USAREC to depart the command for another assignment until 28 years later, when Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Wells was selected to become the command sergeant major of the United States Military Academy.
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier served as a young recruiter in Texas 18 years before returning to become the USAREC command sergeant major. Other 79R serving the Army outside of USAREC include Command Sgt. Maj. Maurice Thorpe with the Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM), Command Sgt. Maj. Maria Martinez with the Diversity Task Force, and Sgt. Maj. Jeff Driver at Special Operations Command. Assignments in USAREC, Cadet Command, Accessions Command, TRADOC, Washington, D.C. and many other non-tactical units throughout the Army provide unique opportunities where leaders can broaden their experiences and become better prepared to serve in a variety of challenging assignments in the years ahead.
These assignments provide a wealth of opportunity for personal growth and enormous contributions to our Army. Soldiers who serve in USAREC develop a wide variety of skills that will serve them and the Army well in any assignment, at any level, for many years to come.
(Bostick served as commanding general of USAREC from October 2005 to May 2009.)