Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pentagon Comments on Army National Guard January Recruiting Shortfall

News in Balance

News in Balance:

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 11, 2009 -- The Army National Guard missed its recruiting goal for January, but it remains slightly over its congressionally mandated end strength of 358,200, an Army Guard official confirmed yesterday.

“We’re paying a success dividend,” said Army Lt. Col. Ron Walls, chief of recruiting and retention for the Army National Guard. “Our numbers are off the program goal, but that’s OK, because of where we are with our end strength. We have never been more whole than we are right now from a readiness perspective.”

According to figures the Defense Department released yesterday, the Army Guard signed up 4,913 new soldiers, 88 percent of its goal of 5,577 enlistees. The Air National Guard got 896 new airmen, 127 percent of its goal of 703 enlistees.

With 366,009 soldiers currently assigned, the Army Guard is at 102 percent of its end-strength goal for this fiscal year.

Walls said the Army Guard has been able to drive up end strength through its innovative recruiting programs, such as G-RAP and Active First, and re-enlistment rates that have remained steady despite an increasing operational tempo.

“We will focus on where we are,” he said. “And right now, we are above in end strength, and our quality marks are stronger than ever, and we will use that to our advantage.”

Walls added that the Army Guard’s quality marks have not been this high since 2003.

“We are now fine-tuning what we have,” he said.

While going after this quality market, Walls said, the Army Guard will continue to “shape our incentives based on funding availability and focus heavily on soldiers in formations already.”

“They pay the price,” he said. “They are part of a team already, and there are dollars associated with them from a training perspective.” Keeping trained soldiers helps with readiness, and “there is goodness in that as well,” Walls said.

In the future, Walls predicted, the Army Guard will continue to provide incentives to a variety of populations from high-schoolers to 40-year-olds.

“We’re looking at that now as far as innovative measures to reach those populations and give them the opportunity to serve in our formations,” he said.

With the nation’s focus shifting to the economy, Walls said, the Army Guard must come up with new incentive programs that don’t involve money to gain accessions.

And because of that, he said, the Army Guard will not rest on its laurels.

“The ingenuity of the team that we have here at the Guard Bureau is never ending,” Walls said. “It’s about what we do with what we have right now. And we always have more innovative programs in the hopper.”

(Report by Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, National Guard Bureau.)

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