By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterMarch 19, 2014
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Gunnery Sgt. William Hart is busy, but it's a good kind of busy. Shelved in his Building 29 office on the Henderson Hall portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall is a foot-high stack of re-enlistment orders from 40 National Capital Region Marines.
"All those packages had to be submitted before Feb. 28, which was the deadline for all fiscal year 2014 reenlistments," Hart explained. "During the past two or three weeks, those packets have come in and out."
Hart, a 36-year-old Marine who has logged 16 years in the Corps, is the career planner who attempts to stay in contact with and guide 2,000 National Capital Region Marines. His responsibilities include re-enlisting Marines, helping those transitioning out of the Corps and providing career advice.
"We do more than just retention," the Seattle, Wash., native said. "Marines come in, and we talk to them about how to get promoted, how to better their careers and themselves, and how to make the best possible decisions whether they are staying in or getting out."
He revealed that on occasions, much brain-picking goes into unearthing which avenues Marines wish to explore in their military careers.
"It's not just keeping them in, it's about getting out there and making contact and touching each Marine and talking to them about their career aspects and goals," he said. "We want to keep Marines in, but more to the point, we want to keep highly qualified Marines in. You'll find the high-quality Marines are those who can get out and be successful outside the military."
As far as future drawdowns, Hart's opinion is that the role of his branch of the military will remain unaltered and Marines will always be in demand for landings on beaches and will take forward positions on aerial sorties.
"I will always see us as the first to fight," Hart said. "As we reduce the force, are we going to become more technical? Perhaps, yes, but you still need those good Marines behind that tech to make it work properly."
According to the official Marine Corps website, the post-Afghanistan war Marine enlistment numbers will be reduced by 19,900 men and women by 2017. The reduction will be done by attrition, retirement incentives and early retirements.