Motivated recruiters will soon have their first opportunity to compete for the Master Recruiter Badge. The first step, however, is determining individual desire and eligibility.

No one will be forced to compete for the badge, according to Victoria Sorensen, Recruiting Command G3 Plans and Programs Division chief. Like with the Expert Field Medical Badge or Expert Infantryman Badge, Soldiers who meet the eligibility criteria will have to decide for themselves whether or not they want to earn the title identifying the mastery of their professional skills.

Small unit leaders should already be counseling their noncommissioned officers about their goals as Soldiers and as recruiters, said Phil Tabor, USAREC G3 Training Assessment Division chief. "Every eligible NCO who strives to be a master recruiter should have the opportunity to earn the badge -- if they want to."

But it won't be easy, according to USAREC Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Moore. "The process was never conceptually thought about nor designed for everyone to get the Master Recruiter Badge and not everyone's going to get it."

The key to earning it? Individual initiative.

"The Soldiers who earn it will be those who have done the most self-study and self-development and demonstrated they have mastered their skills," he said. "It will be clear."

The USAREC Critical Skills Assessment Test (CSAT) study guides are a good resource to help prepare for the second step in becoming a master recruiter: the Master Recruiter Badge Competency Test.

"It behooves the Soldiers who want to compete to start studying now," Tabor said. Soldiers who haven't already taken the CSAT or even began studying for it are urged to get the study guides and get started -- especially if they are considering competing for the Master Recruiter Badge.

Completely separate from the CSAT, the MRBCT is a 70-question closed book test of skill level 3 tasks. Questions will be in a scrolling format so individuals will be able to first answer the questions they are sure of and then go back to work on the hard ones -- up until they reach the one-hour time limit.

Recruiters must score an 85 percent or higher on the MRBCT to progress on to the final step: a rigorous live-fire evaluation. Recruiters will immediately learn their score at the end of the test.

"The live-fire evaluation will test an individual's ability to put his or her knowledge into practical application," Tabor said. "Together, the basic competency test and live-fire will provide a holistic view on whether that individual is a 'master recruiter.'"

The live-fire, to be administered by Recruiting and Retention School staff, will include nine practical exams graded by an evaluator. The schoolhouse and G3 staffs are still working out live-fire implementation details. Recruiters must achieve 100 percent -- a first time go in each life-fire event -- to earn the badge, according to Sorensen. Badges are scheduled to be presented at the completion of the live-fire evaluation.

The badge will not be retroactive for Soldiers who already have the Gold Recruiter Badge, Recruiter Ring and Morrell Award, none of which is part of the command's new incentive awards program implemented in FY 11. Every Soldier in this command who wants to wear it must go through the same process to earn it. Individuals will have only one attempt to compete during the fiscal year's scheduled test period. The MRBCT testing window is tentatively scheduled to open in February; the G3 will release complete details in a future memorandum of instruction. Soldiers will have to wait a minimum of 30 days following completion of the CSAT to take the MRBCT, so unit testing windows should align with that schedule, Tabor said.

The Fiscal Year 2012 CSAT is being administered across the command through January. While the CSAT is in no way connected to earning the Master Recruiter Badge, it is a critical component of the Recruiter Development Program (RDP).

"While there may be some small pockets of subjectivity in the process, I am very proud of the work the team has done in establishing the Master Recruiter Badge program," Moore said of the collaborative effort between the USAREC G3 training assessment division and plans and programs divisions and the Recruiting and Retention School staff at Fort Jackson, S.C. "Into the future, it's going to make a huge difference across this command with regard to measuring technical competence and mastery of skills."