Now Playing: Military Recruiters see rise in applications
Shaky economy helps
Posted : Monday Oct 13, 2008 10:57:42 EDT
The bad news on Wall Street is good news for military recruiting and retention, the Pentagon’s top personnel official said Friday.
“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a Pentagon briefing. “That is a situation where more are willing to give us a chance. I think that’s the big difference — people willing to listen to us.”
But while the downturn in the economy is making it easier for the services to recruit and retain people, Chu said he doesn’t expect spending on enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses to drop in the near term, even though more may see the military as a shelter against a sagging civilian job market.
Although there is a lag time in the variables that drive bonus payments up or down, Chu said he expects the military “will probably spend in fiscal year 2009 … roughly what we spent in fiscal 2008.”
Recruiting bonuses in fiscal 2008 for all the services totaled roughly $750 million, Chu said.
“I would expect we’d spend something close to that in 2009,” he said. “But only time will tell.”
Chu touted fiscal 2008, which ended Sept. 30, as “probably the strongest recruiting year we’ve had, overall, taking all elements into account, since fiscal year 2004.”
All the services, including the reserve components, met their fiscal 2008 goals for the overall number of recruits they sought to sign up.
Chu said retention also “continues strong.”
While the Marines Corps didn’t make its “extraordinarily ambitious target” for first-term re-enlistments, it still ended the year at 105 percent of its authorized end strength.
In recruiting, the Marines led the way by making 100 percent of its fiscal 2008 goal. The Corps’ recruiting chief, Maj. Gen. Robert Milstead, attributed the success to the addition of 600 Marines recruiters on the streets.
The Navy’s recruiting and retention efforts were “green across the board” and the best results in five years, said Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, the Navy’s recruiting chief.
The Navy was particularly successful in recruiting for its special operations forces, a performance that Kilkenny called “unprecedented.”
The Air Force made 100 percent of its recruiting target, but did not make its re-enlistment goals — what Chu described as “some softness” in retention in that service.
The reason, he said, was that in the midst of “very aggressive” end-strength cuts, the Air Force “was not very ambitious about its retention” and cut back on reenlistment incentives.
Senior Pentagon officials eventually halted that drawdown, but “turning that around takes time,” he said.