HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (May 8, 2015) -- The state of Army recruiting was a major topic during the annual Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army, or CASA, Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, May 5. The conference brought together representatives from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, to learn from each other and share their experiences.

During a panel discussion, Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command; Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command; and Maj. Gen. Tom Seamands from Army G-1, highlighted the current Army accessions and personnel readiness challenges.

Finding qualified Soldiers is becoming more difficult, according to Batschelet.

"There are three categories that prevent someone from joining the Army: moral, academic and physical fitness," he said. "Twenty percent of all young people today are disqualified because they are obese. By 2020, that number could be 50 percent."

Batschelet also said Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery-related issues are contributing to the struggles recruiters face.

"It is the most reliable aptitude test that's ever been developed, and its use is eroding because of other standardized testing and curriculum," he said.

Chuck Henderson, the CASA representative from western Kentucky, had some concerns regarding recruiting.

"People are asking, 'why do I want to join the Army when people are being put out of the Army?' For those who are 18 -- 21 years old, their influencers and parents may have been put out themselves," he said. "The challenge going forward is the perception these influencers have been left with as a result of this drawdown."

Combs approached the panel discussion from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps perspective.
"We are fundamentally changing everything we do," she said. "We are transforming our complete curriculum. All cadet tactical training will now take place in one location at Fort Knox."

Combs challenged the CASA representatives to visit ROTC cadets whenever possible to see first-hand how the program generates the Army's future leaders. Combs also explained that ROTC has one distinct recruiting advantage.

"We have an edge. Our strength is that we are a total component commissioning source," she said. "We commission for the National Guard, the Army Reserves and active duty."

"I have the best job in the Army," Combs added. "I get to go to colleges and high schools, and I get to see potential each and every day. With those who are in our cadet corps now, our Army is in great hands."

During the panel discussion, Seamands covered several topics, including women's roles in the Army going forward. Seamands said the Army will soon integrate women into more MOSs previously open only to men.

"It really comes down to talent management," he said. "It's almost a natural evolution." Seamands also gave an update on the females who recently attended ranger training, saying, "We'll assess how the training went just like we do with all rangers."

Seamands thanked the CASA representatives for their service and applauded them for their feedback. CASA representatives are heavily involved in an advising role and are vital to the Army. Members of the community often reach out to the CASAs to voice their concerns.

"Not a week goes by that I don't get asked if Fort Campbell is going to lose Soldiers or if Fort Knox is going to lose Human Resources Command," Henderson said. "All the general public hears is that the Army is getting smaller. So if you're in a community near Soldiers, it's a scary time for businesses who make their living from them."

Henderson said he and the other CASA representatives will take what they learn from the conference and share it with their communities.