Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Recruiting shenanegans 
Sounds like some Florida National Guard recruiter got caught misrepresenting the truth to high school students in St. Petersburg.

I've got a full-time recruiter who works trying to bring people into my unit. There's no doubt that the Guard is turning on the full-court press to step up recruiting and retention: Reenlistment bonuses have tripled, and recruiting/retention goals are receiving far more visibility when it comes to officer evaluation reports than I've ever seen in Florida (although it's still not as heavy-handed as in Kentucky, where it seems we spent more command and staff time discussing recruiting than we did training).

I've talked to my recruiter and others at length about what interests the kids today and what motivates them. I don't go down to meet with the kids or shepherd them through the recruiting process. But as a unit commander, it's MY recruiting and retention program, and my recruiter knows I intend to be straight with these kids, and that includes being very clear that there is a possibility they could be deployed overseas, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, Kosovo, or anywhere else the US Army has or will have a presence and a mission: and why would they want it any other way? Who wants to be part of a nondeployable, second-rate outfit?

Still, looking over the recruiting office and literature, my overwhelming sense is that the Guard is downplaying its involvement in Iraq. You walk in the recruiting office, and there's not one picture of the unit in Iraq, nor do any of the official-looking brochures I've seen contain photos of soldiers in action in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Everyone's wearing green.

I've seen one poster for Operation Enduring Freedom taken in Afghanistan, with the soldiers in DCUs, but I usually see that one around the units, not in the recruiters' offices.

Do I agree with the approach? Not really. But I don't particularly disagree with it, either, as long as we're up front about disclosing that we are part of the Army and could be Federalized and deployed anywhere in the world by order of the President.

I'm not out there in the trenches, though, talking to the kids and their families. The recruiters are telling me that a lot of the time, the kids are receptive to deployment, and even willing. It's their parents who won't sign off.

Splash, out


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