FORT BELVOIR, Va. – We’re in a war for talent. A sentiment shared across the military services. It’s no secret the recruiting environment of today is one of the most challenging since the re-institution of the all-volunteer military in 1973.
Gen. James C. McConville, U.S. Army chief of staff, has publicly stated at many bases, forums and events that, “We’re [the Army} looking at a call to service, and we’re taking a look at how we can inspire more young men and women to serve.”
This call to action is our generation’s equivalent to the famous World War I era “I want you” campaign. The Army wants its senior leaders and Soldiers from all walks of life to support the recruiting mission by taking the time to meet with their local recruiters and to unleash their ‘superpower’ by sharing their Army Story.
According to an Army study, about 75 percent of today’s youth admit they know little to nothing about the military.
The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command's (INSCOM) senior leaders and Soldiers are helping to overcome this growing disconnect with the American population.
“I am extremely proud of the INSCOM Team’s innovation and whole-hearted approach to recruiting our future Soldiers and intelligence professionals,” said Maj. Gen. Michele H. Bredenkamp, INSCOM commanding general. “Recruiting is the top priority for our Army, and our INSCOM Team plays a key role in recruiting and retaining our very best. The Army provides so many opportunities and we must do our part to inspire others to serve.”
Recruiting is the responsibility of the entire Army and not just its recruiters. With that sentiment in mind, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jonathan E. Irby, an Arizona-native and INSCOM's command chief warrant officer, reached out to his home state recruiters to see how he and INSCOM can help in the effort.
Irby, accompanied by two Soldiers from the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade (MIB), Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, set out on a 10-day recruiting mission in October 2022. The goal was to not only help recruit the next generation of Soldiers, but to help educate the public about opportunities that exist in the Army's Military Intelligence military occupational specialty (MOS) career field.
“It is extremely important for the current force to participate in the recruiting effort,” said Capt. Xavier D. Moss, company commander, Army Recruiting Company – Tucson [Arizona]. “New recruits have a very limited scope in what they understand and know about the military.”
During the trip, Irby, Warrant Officer Tyson L. Pyle, 704th MIB signal intelligence analyst and Chinese linguist, and Sgt. Jared A. Barajas, linguist, 704th MIB and Russian linguist, engaged with potential recruits at nine high schools, two community events, and faculty and staff from the University of Arizona. INSCOM's contingent successfully impacted the recruiting effort in Arizona.
“I think the trip went well,” said Pyle. “Sergeant Barajas and I were able to bring different points of view to the effort. We were able to share our experiences with the students and staff, as well as familiarize the recruiters with language and Army Intelligence opportunities.”
The Army's Phoenix Arizona Recruiting Battalion's commander said her unit saw several positive effects from the engagements INSCOM's trio attended.
“The engagements resulted in two enlistments and increased teacher and faculty knowledge of opportunities afforded by the Army,” said Lt. Col. Tammy S. Bogart. “Teachers found the Soldiers’ personal Army stories compelling and invited them to participate in additional classroom presentations.”
This wasn’t the only successful recruiting effort INSCOM has completed this fiscal year. In March 2023, INSCOM sent two Soldiers to Southern California to help the recruiting mission there. One of the Soldiers selected for this mission was Puerto Rico-native Spc. Eduardo L. Rivera-Lugo, 116th MIB signal collection analyst.
“We had a very impactful engagement with students in Orange County,” Rivera-Lugo said. “Staff Sergeant Henry from the 204th MI Battalion and I got to speak with 40 students at Orange County High School and they were all very interested in becoming 35-series (Military Intelligence) Soldiers.”
Rivera-Lugo enjoyed telling his story and believes the recruiting engagement in Orange County was a success.
“I think we did a good job getting them interested in intel,” Rivera-Lugo added. “I enjoyed getting to connect with the students from similar backgrounds and telling them my story. I would definitely do this again.”
Rivera-Lugo and Henry’s in-person event, as well as a follow-on Intelligence Career Pathways virtual tour supported by Soldiers from the 116th and 470th MI brigades had a lasting effect on the recruiting mission in Southern California. According to the Southern California Recruiting Battalion, they have enlisted a higher number of 35-series recruits this year and have seen a 25 percent increase in potential recruits asking for more information about Army Military Intelligence jobs.
These positive increases stem from INSCOM Soldiers telling their stories to potential Army recruits and educating community influencers about the many opportunities available to Army Soldiers.
In addition to successful visits to Arizona, Northern Colorado, and Southern California, INSCOM Soldiers also told their stories during recruitment efforts in Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; and at various airshows and expos.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle J. Gillam, INSCOM command sergeant major, got into the fight for talent when he traveled to Indianapolis to help the Indy-Metro South Recruiting Company with their efforts in April. Gillam flexed his superpower by telling his Army story to JROTC cadets.
Sgt. Maj. Stephanie A. Roberts-Wrenn, operations directorate sergeant major, INSCOM G3, recently shared her story at the ‘Take Pride in the IC (Intelligence Community) Recruiting Event’ hosted by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis. Roberts-Wrenn told her story to attendees and participated in Q&A sessions.
In May, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Perrine, platoon sergeant, 743d MI Battalion, 704th MI Brigade, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, spoke to Northglenn High School students during a community outreach and recruiting visit with Gen. Laura Richardson, commanding general, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM); Bill Hanzlik, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Colorado (North); and Col. Yesenia Garcia, director, SOUTHCOM Commander's Action Group (and former 743d MI Battalion commander). The event was held at Richardson’s former high school in Northglenn, Colorado.
The 116th MIB also actively participates at airshows and aerospace expos by regularly providing fixed wing aircraft, such as the C-12 Huron and MQ-1C Gray Eagle. The brigade's 15th MI Battalion provided a flyover for the Ole Miss at Texas A&M football game in College Stadium, Texas, in support of ROTC recruiters in October 2022.
With every invitation to provide a static display, INSCOM Soldiers not only support recruiters, but also highlight the lesser-known aircrafts of Army Aviation.
According to a 2023 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, high school seniors, 62% to be precise, are pushed towards college believing this is the best option for success, with the military being a last resort option. In fact, the Army continues to support and encourage its Soldiers to pursue higher education and certification programs.
The Army is investing in America’s youth through its unparalleled ability to unlock a person’s full potential. The entire Army team is working hard to inform the American public about all of the benefits the Army has to offer, such as housing, medical, and financial benefits and allowances.
INSCOM’s efforts are only a part of the larger effort in the war for talent.
Every Army Soldier has a story to tell. To tell your story and help win the war for talent, Soldiers can register for the Partnership Outreach Program (POP), a network of registered Army advocates who support local recruiting efforts and help connect recruiting personnel to the communities they serve in.
This is our generations ‘I Want You’ call to action. Join the fight for talent by going to http://www.goarmy.com/cp today to help America's youth Be All You Can Be.