Recruiters Are Failing at Their Mission

Marine Corps Recruiting Command
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Recruiters Are Failing at Their Mission

One of the most difficult jobs in the military is to be a recruiter. With recruitment numbers being down, and I mean they are way down, recruiters are having to work harder and come up with ways to attract today’s youth. There are some 17-19-year-olds out there who have already decided that the military is the way for them. Maybe it is because of the GI Bill, maybe it is because they love the military, or maybe it is the money. Hell, it could even be the ability to travel to exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them (it’s a joke).

This joke reminded me that I need to post that there is not a ribbon, metal, belt loop, or whatever for that matter, that a military member in the United States wears on their uniform that annotates the number of people that they have killed. I have seen this stupid shit all over the damn internet. One meme stated that it was the colored stripes on the uniform belt, which is actually for what belt you are in the Marine Corps martial arts program. Some say it is the stars on a ribbon, which annotate how many different times you have achieved the award that the metal or ribbon is for.

At some events, some recruiters are using cosplay, like this Army Reserve booth at the Anime NYC convention. They are using a character by the name of Misato Katsuragi in the hopes that it will help bring more people to their booth. The Marine Corps loves to use the pull-up bar to help attract people to the booth. Being in my 50’s I do not understand anything about the Anime characters, but I’m not going to bash the Army for trying that approach. They need to keep a constant flow of new bodies joining to meet the demand and need for new troops.

Hell, you can even pick your first duty station when you enlist in the Army, guaranteed.

Army Anime

Today’s troops are tired and worn out, from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they need a break. I know the main reason I got out of the Corps was too many deployments. Mrs. Average and I just had our first child and I deployed around the time he was about 3 months, and I came home right before he turned one year old. That means I missed a ton of his firsts, and this was before the internet and live streams. When I left that unit, I went to a school command, but I was the only instructor and I had to develop the new material as it was a new training course. When I didn’t have a class onboard, I was working 12-hour days, five days a week. When I had a class onboard, I was working more like 13-14 hours, six and seven days a week. I got up and PT’d with the “A” school students (they needed more Marines to bring up the rear and pick up stragglers). Then it was to the office and set up for the day or add some material to the training books before the class arrived. Then it was instructing my students after they left for the day, it was a staff meeting, then either off to staff duty somewhere, maybe it was the barracks, or the quarterdeck, or the SCIF. Regardless, I was away from my family and that was the opposite of what I wanted.

When I was on AD and before children, I always offered to site duty on Christmas Eve, because I didn’t have kids yet. Mrs. Average and I would make trays of cookies and other holiday treats and go around and give them to those who were on duty. It was our way of giving back.

Back on track with this post and recruiters. I don’t claim to know how difficult it truly is for recruiters, but those that I have talked to all state that it is getting increasingly more difficult lately. So, if anime works, then so be it. If money works, then go for it.

Personally, I think the Marine Corps is more of a retention problem than a recruitment problem. When I was on AD, my MOS was closed for a long time, and when they opened it up, they usually offered money to re-enlist. Of course, when I was up for Sgt, it was closed for over a year, and when they opened it up, it was only open for less than a month and they didn’t offer any money. The company Gunny called me and said, if I want to re-enlist, that I need to get my ass to the company office ASAP. I did, signed the papers, raised my hand, and was done.

I think that the Corps wants 19-20-year-olds (PFC, LCpl) so they can have them as the trigger pullers. The CPL and Sgt lead the fire teams and squads. The problem is that there is so much fudging the numbers around so they can keep the balance that the Corps needs.

Now, it comes down to how many times you have deployed. According to the Center for Naval Analyses, for Marines with dependents, the reenlistment rate is just under 40 percent for those with 1 to 100 deployed days. The rate falls to just over 30 percent for those with 401 or more days deployed. For Marines without dependents, however, the drop in the reenlistment rate as deployed days increase is much sharper. 

A more recent set of numbers states that: The service reached 104% of its subsequent term retention goal, meaning Marines who are on their second or greater enlistment term. And 27% of the Marines eligible for reenlistment in 2024 already have signed up. Those figures were provided by Michael Strobl, PhD, with Manpower & Reserve Affairs. 

And for those that are eagle-eyed, yes, that Michael Strobl, the Marine that escorts Lance Corporal Chance Phelps back home, which is what the movie Taking Chance was based on. Michael Strobl is currently Assistant Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Headquarters, United States Marine Corps (Quantico) But that is a post for another day.

Back on topic again, I was talking about how I feel they have a retention problem, not a recruitment problem. As sad as it is, the Corps treats E-3 and below as 100% disposable. They treat E-4 a little better, but the Corps wants you to invest in the Corps before they invest in you. After you re-enlist, they tend to notice you a little. I’m sure that this isn’t how it is all over the Corps, but it was that way 25 years ago. If the Corps invested more in their junior ranks, they would have great retention and not have to worry so much about bringing in new recruits. When you get to the rank of E-7, it seems like the Corps isn’t investing much into you again, but they aren’t focused on getting rid of you like they do on the lower ranks.

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Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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  • Average Joe

    Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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