WASHINGTON — The Army will now provide incentives for more skilled, experienced civilians who join the Army Reserve.
The service recently expanded the number of certifiable, reserve career fields in the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program from seven to 44.
Nearly 200 new Soldiers in Fiscal Year 2023 have enlisted or commissioned through the program, which has mutual benefits for both recruits and the Army.
Civilians with experience in jobs that range from musicians to human intelligence collectors, and orthopedic specialists to vehicle mechanics can take advantage of the program. Enlisted Soldiers who meet qualifications will be awarded the rank of specialist, or E-4, and bring needed skills into the force.
The Army in turn will spend less time training new Soldiers, who have already certified their skills through trade schools, professional certifications, academic degrees and time on the job.
“[ACASP] allows us to open a greater talent pipeline to the Army, giving more people an opportunity to join with those skills,” said Col. Fred Hockett, deputy commander for support, Army Recruiting Command. “[ACASP] makes it a little more attractive when people say I can use the skills I've already gotten in the civilian workforce in the Army.”
Hockett said the Army does not currently have plans to expand the number of active-duty career fields but may add more ACASP jobs as the service’s needs change.
Angie Holbrook, Army chief of military personnel, Accessions Division, said that the majority of the new ACASP recruits joined as in the military occupational specialties of42R/S musicians, 68W combat medic specialists and 88M truck drivers. About 80 Army band members enlisted through ACASP.
Holbrook said the program has given Army recruiters another tool to entice potential recruits as they compete for talent in a highly-contested job market.
“The expansion of seven MOS to 44 gives us a much broader range to bring in [Soldiers] who have those skills,” Hockett said.
Holbrook said the service expanded the program due to the success of the original seven reserve MOS and changing demographics. He added that the Army has recently seen more interest towards in intelligence, technology and vehicle maintenance. Coincidentally, Army leaders have targeted recruiting Soldiers in those fields.
“[ACASP] allows us to get people that are using recent, relevant technologies into the force,” Holbrook said. “I think it’s going to give us more depth because it takes a long time for the Army to field the new equipment or field new systems … These people are coming in straight away and being able to put those things into practice with the most recent technologies.”
Holbrook said that qualified applicants may also have the option of shorter service contracts because the Army saves time and funding on ACASP recruits’ training. ACASP not only gives Soldiers a head start on their careers, but it provides a cost-savings tool to bring skilled troops into the force.
“The Army realizes there’s some definite, emerging skills, talents and technologies that we want to be able to put into the force quicker,” Holbrook said. “[ACASP] is giving more opportunities to more people, but also it gives us those knowledge, skills and abilities faster.”
A Soldier who enlists as a track vehicle repairer with two years of training and experience in the repair and overhaul of engines, power trains and chassis components will only require three weeks of advanced individual training compared with 14 weeks for a normal recruit.
Other careers including firefighters, construction engineers, electricians and carpenters require two years of professional experience to receive an ACASP certification.
In some career fields such as combat medic, Soldiers already certified can also hasten the training process. Combat medics must re-certify their skills every two years, and ACASP recruits will already be familiar with the certification process.
Medics must attend a 16-week training program where they will not only learn emergency care but basic life support and in-patient and out-patient care. Through ACASP, a recruit can reduce that training time to 9 weeks.
New Army Spc. Adam Michael of Walterboro, South Carolina joined the Army through ACASP as an 88M Motor Transport operator because of his prior civilian experience working for J.B. Hunt, a motor transport services company.
The program specifically benefits recruits considering joining the National Guard or Army Reserve. Hockett said that qualified recruits can begin applying their skills immediately in their home states.
“There's a lot of overlap between those civilian skills that they've already gone to school and potentially paid for and the MOS-producing courses that we have in the Army Reserve,” Hockett said.