By Ms. Julia Bobick (USAREC)February 28, 2013
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The Recruiting Command deputy commanding general hosted 17 battalion commanders around a virtual conference room table Feb. 20-21 for quarterly training to share best practices across the command.
Though the training was conducted by VTC and not with all the commanders physically together on Fort Knox, Brig. Gen. Henry L. Huntley said both days were filled with great, engaging discussions about many of the challenges recruiters are facing across the spectrum of the command, as well as the many success stories.
"This is a dialogue for all of us," Huntley said, before emphasizing how important it is that leaders share their TTPs that are working well so others might take advantage of them. The command has to work smarter to accomplish the mission, but not take shortcuts, he said.
"As we deal with the challenges that require us to be better stewards of the dollars we have, we still have to get after the mission, and we still have to take care of our Soldiers, we still have to take care of our civilians and we still have to take care of our family members, " said Huntley, "while at the same time being the best ambassadors we can be on behalf of the United States Army throughout the 29,746 ZIP codes across the nation."
"So, how do we do that?" Huntley asked of his commanders as he opened the training. Participating commanders were pre-assigned briefing topics designed to help answer that question.
Representing the five enlisted recruiting brigades and the medical recruiting brigade with varying levels of USAREC experience, the commanders went around the horn discussing everything from well-being and family support to battalion staff and training management. Operationally focused topics included developing a battle rhythm, training Future Soldiers, public high school access, small unit recruiting, effective community outreach, emphasizing the Army Profession and using the media to support recruiting efforts.
Baltimore Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Thomas Fife, one of the six experienced commanders selected to participate as mentors, started the first session by detailing the five key things he wishes he had known before he took command in July 2011. Like in most of the briefings, the main points on his slide served as a springboard into related topics.
One of the liveliest discussions focused on recruiting in the current fiscally constrained environment. Montgomery Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Mark Olin shared his advice on making do with available resources and not letting subordinate leaders and recruiters use the reduction in advertising funds and other unit budgets as an excuse.
"My recruiters build a partnership with America in living rooms and classrooms every day, and that's what I tell them to keep driving home, regardless of how big or small the budget is," Olin said.
Very seldom did Huntley have to prompt fellow commanders to join in the conversation; he said he was very pleased with the exchange of information and the many great ideas participants shared with their peers.
"One thing I've found is that you don't have to recreate the wheel out here," said USAREC Inspector General Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Telepak, who sat in on the training here at the headquarters, providing insight from his more than 25 years in the command. "If somebody's doing something good, take it and use it; modify it to make it work for you."
Some of the best practices included Tampa Battalion's take on family readiness: the Gator Family Network; San Antonio Battalion's high school partnership program with the Silver Stars; Nashville Battalion's "Red White and Blue to ACU" Future Soldier program; Montgomery Battalion's W.I.N.G. (Wellness Information Networking Group) Newsletter; San Antonio Battalion's local Reserve unit posters and Albany Battalion's Army Reserve engagement tiger team.
All of the training slides and many of the programs and best practices shared during the training are available on the Recruiting ProNet online allowing all 44 recruiting battalion commanders to take advantage of the discussions and ideas shared.
While Huntley admitted to the group that all ideas might not work in every location, leaders should take the aspects relevant to their unit and run with them. Bottom line, he said, is accomplishing the mission.
"There will be nothing that will stop us from taking care of our mission of bringing the best and brightest into our Army," Huntley said.