Retention goals changing
December 14, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The days of an iconic Uncle Sam wanting everyone to join the U.S. Army are coming to an end. At the Commanding General's Retention Awards Luncheon Dec. 9 at the Officers' Club, there was a recurring message of retaining quality Soldiers over large quantities of Soldiers.
The 165th Infantry Brigade received a retention excellence award for being the first to accomplish its retention mission. The 171st Infantry Brigade, 193rd Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School and U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School were also recognized for reaching their retention goals.
Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Jackson's commanding general, took the opportunity to thank career counselors for their efforts and remind all leaders to enforce Army standards in regard to keeping Soldiers.
"There's no gray area with standards," Milano said. "Either you meet them or you don't. For those who can't maintain the standards of our Army, it is time for them to get filtered out. We need to keep those doing well and setting the example."
Fort Jackson's mission of training Soldiers makes the post a special case in regards to retention, according to command career counselor, Sgt. Maj. Robert Collier.
"We have a small population of Soldiers in their re-enlistment window here so the retention mission might be around 40-50 Soldiers, for example, and many of them are drill sergeants," Collier said. "For drill sergeants, they are on the go from Day One of that cycle until graduation day. The workload is heavy for them and you really bring up a huge question when you ask if they want to re-enlist. "
The 165th Brigade retention team found that many of their Soldiers were willing to stay Army, so the brigade was able to quickly meet retention goals.
"Most drill sergeants that I've come in contact with want to stay in. They enjoy what they do and they want to continue," said Sgt. 1st Class Danelle Magalit, brigade career counselor.
"Every job has its up and downs, whether in the civilian world or military, and they are aware of that. I encourage them to stay on and take advantage of benefits they won't find on the civilian side."
If Soldiers want to stay in the Army, their options are more limited than in the past, according to Collier. "The Army has to become more streamlined because we can't just pay extra people these days. Now you are placed in a smaller re-enlistment window, and if you don't re-enlist then, you stand the chance of not re-enlisting at all."
Collier said the Army's retention efforts are changing because the organization is moving away from having one-dimensional Soldiers.
"We are building multifaceted, plug and play Soldiers who can fit into any position interchangeably. We are the standard the world looks to and must continue to be, while evolving into an even greater force than ever before," Collier said. "When Fort Jackson keeps Soldiers, like we have here, we make sure the Army can continue doing great things in the future."