WASHINGTON — Army Recruiting Command is taking measures to upgrade quality of life for its recruiters and training for its leaders, as part of the service’s overall efforts to revamp its recruiting practices through a challenging recruiting landscape.
In addition to scheduling more sales and negotiation courses, USAREC added two weeks to the Army Recruiting and Retention College with one dedicated to the future recruiter and their family. The second week focuses on helping the recruiter choose their preferred destination among the Army’s 1,700 recruiting stations and aids them during their transition to their new assignment.
Families may move to a recruiting station located far from military installations and not have access to military services. The Government Lease Housing Program assists military families when Basic Housing Allowance does not support the local housing cost.
“We want [recruiters] to be allowed to be part of the assignment process of where they go,” said USAREC commander, Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis. “We want the families to be involved … This family is departing a post with commissary, [post exchange], military treatment facility, gyms, schools, military school … And then we asked them to step away.”
In January, the Army introduced a new initiative called Recruiter Production Incentive — Assignment Incentive Pay program. The initiative provides cash rewards to recruiters who write contracts that exceed mission requirements based on the quality of the recruits and their qualification test scores.
USAREC has also retrained 150 of the Army’s master trainers from across the force. During a 10-week period, Davis said he brought in 130-150 recruiting station commanders nationwide for additional training and to brief them on USAREC’s latest initiatives.
“We’ve changed the way we’ve invested in our leaders,” Davis said during an Association of the U.S. Army event Tuesday.
The Army hopes to rebound after missing its recruiting goals in fiscal year 2022, when the service failed to reach its recruiting target by 15,000 for its active-duty force. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Army recruiters have faced new challenges, including rules that restricted them from in-person visits with students learning from home.
“This didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight,” Davis said.
A native of Milwaukee’s inner city, Davis grew up among the target demographic group the Army hopes to reach: young adults in urban areas. Military recruits have traditionally originated from smaller towns and rural communities.
With a focus on quality recruits with diverse skill sets, Davis wants Army recruiters to widen their target audience.
Davis praised the efforts of the Army Enterprise Marketing Office and the return to the Army’s “Be All That You Can Be,” slogan, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. Davis said that the marketing campaign connects older generations with the current one.
Future Soldiers have help
The Army has efforts in place to boost its quality of recruits including the Future Soldier Preparatory Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The three-week program provides an opportunity for recruits to raise their scores for anyone who scored 21-30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test or did not meet fitness standards.
Only about 25% of potential recruits meet the academic and fitness standards of military service, so the Army enlisted the help of a third party to provide the course curriculum and training.
After introducing the pilot program in August, the Army recently expanded upon the training to include more companies of recruits. Since then, the Army has seen a 97% success rate for both academic and physical fitness on the arithmetic reasoning, paragraph comprehension and vocabulary. Recruits have increased their academic scores between 18-20 points, with some as high as 40, Davis said.
Davis recently visited Fort Jackson and said he saw remarkable progress in recruits participating in the program over a two-week period. He added that recruits who participated in the program took leadership roles when they entered basic training.
“It is transformational, positive change,” Davis said.
Davis said any Soldier, not just recruiters, can help share the truths about service. Davis recently visited Indianapolis to meet with potential recruits and answer questions.
“We just had two years of school closures without recruiters,” Davis said. “There was that safe environment of a school and having the ability to speak with a recruiter. That was just not there. So, there's an awareness and knowledge gap that you have to feel, and we're trying to do that right now.”
The Army must enlist the help of veterans to help boost recruiting numbers and tell the Army story, David said.
“That was one of my top three [priorities],” Davis said. “I need to do better. Their military story is so powerful to our youth.”
Davis said he has reached out to local Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations and has submitted an article to Army Echoes, a retired veterans’ publication. He also said that Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army assist recruiters in helping link communities to the military often serving as liaisons between the military and school districts.
He said that veterans can share their stories of service with potential recruits and assist Army recruiters with outreach.