Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Army Recruitment, or the military recruitment in general.

Read this article, from, of all places, "VH-1.Com":

Army Recruitment Down For Fourth Consecutive Month

Doubling enlistment bonus, raising age limit considered in wake of low numbers.

by Brandee J. Tecson

Army recruiters talk to high school students (file) (Photo: Getty Images)

U.S. Army recruitment numbers were down for the fourth consecutive month in May, and officials said a "monumental effort" will be made to avoid missing the Army's annual target for the first time in six years.

The Department of Defense announced Friday that the Army missed its May goal by 1,600 recruits, nearly 25 percent, despite having lowered the target from 8,050 to 6,700. Meanwhile, the Army Reserve met only 82 percent of its recruitment goal

The Pentagon, which usually issues recruitment figures at the beginning of every month, delayed releasing the May numbers until Friday in order to minimize the media glare on the Army's recent recruiting shortfalls, according to sources quoted in The New York Times.

"It is indeed going to be a push to make up the shortfalls [we have] before the end of the fiscal year, but we are going to do everything we can [to meet the target]," said Douglas Smith, a public affairs officer for U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

The Pentagon is considering asking Congress to double the enlistment bonus from $20,000 to $40,000 and to raise the age limit for active-duty service personnel from 35 to 40. "Today's 40-year-old may no longer be old," Smith said. "People are in a lot better shape now than in the past."

The Army is also looking to boost enlistment with a new benefit that will help soldiers purchase homes. The pilot program would pay up to $50,000 in mortgage costs for recruits who enlist for eight years of duty.

Along with adding more than 1,000 recruiters, the Army launched a new ad campaign in April targeting prospective student recruits and their parents. Instead of using images of war and combat, the new Army ads, with names like "Smart Guy" and "Good Training," emphasize educational and personal-growth opportunities. Some ads specifically target Latinos and include the tagline "Yo Soy El Army" ("I Am the Army").

The Army has received widespread criticism lately about overly aggressive recruiting tactics. A one-day "stand down" was held last month in response to the claims (see "Army Has One-Day 'Stand Down' To Focus On Recruiting Tactics").

There is also a growing number of counter-recruitment efforts emerging on high school and college campuses (see "U.S. Army Misses Enlistment Goal, Counter-Recruitment Efforts Rise"), but Smith said the Army is not concerned with the demonstrations. "We defend America and all its freedoms, and freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental," he said. "As long as we are able to speak to students, we're not going to complain about others who may [also] speak to them."

Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said he's optimistic that recruiting will pick up in the summer, when recent high school graduates filter into recruiting stations. Compared to the traditionally slow spring recruiting season, "summer is an enormously more favorable environment," he said.

I am not sure if anyone really realizes how many people already knows someone who has served, got their marriages and bodies screwed through service in the armed forces, or more recently, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a Sgt. who works in my office who had gotten his right arm blown off when he was in Iraq. Sometimes, it doesn't even really take someone saying anything negative about the military to sway people away from the military, people can see and read things.

I'm not exactly sure if all the lures of more enlistment bonus money or even newer slogans will help out with the recruitment effort much. Most know that bonus money are usually taxed and even if you get the full payment, it would amount to less than half of the proposed pay-out.

I can't believe that I'm suggesting this, but how about a mandatory 2 year military commitment after graduation from high school? With the only exemption being those who are handicapped mentally/physically? You can't make the military sound like something that it's not in order to attract people. There's an imbalance here, a strong country should have the most well-staffed and the best military forces in the world. Still being a reservist myself, I know how low on personnel the military is right now. Some of the senior ranking personnels cannot retire because there are very few people to replace them, and there's also a shortage of junior ranking personnels (enlisted and commissioned). You end up sending the same people back to Iraq and Afghanistan, burning them out in the process.

I think the 2-3 year mandatory military service policy is being practiced in various parts of the world. In my plan, after the two-year service concludes, you can either opt to get out of military service, and go home with educational assistance that's guranteed for you if you want to go to college or trade school. If you opt to stay in the military, you can but you must at least complete an associate's degree while you are in, and the military will help you with it... so when you get out, you'll know more than handling a weapon and drive a tank.

Military service is not made for everyone, but I think some structure and familiarization with work ethics and physical/mental dicipline are something that every 18 year-olds should at least know something about.

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