Despite historic recruitment rates since the end of the military draft, the Department of Defense continues to take measures to ensure prolonged recruitment successes, according to a senior Pentagon official.
In a written testimony submitted to the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on military personnel, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley said several challenges lie ahead, especially in the eligibility of potential recruits.
“I do not take our recent success for granted, nor do I assume the current environment will continue,” he said.
One of the concerns recruiters have is the eligibility of American youth to serve in the military, Stanley said. Some of the disqualifying factors include obesity and other medical issues, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal misbehavior and having too many dependents. Expected economic recovery and high school graduates choosing to go directly to college also affect recruitment rates, he said.
Despite these concerns, Stanley said, the military remains committed to end “Stop Loss,” a program that permits involuntary extension of a service member’s active-duty contract. The Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have ended the policy, and the Army plans to phase it out by March 2011. In the meantime, two retroactive payments have been enacted for members whose service was extended since September 2001.
Meanwhile, the DoD has to ensure a steady supply of experienced recruiters to prevent a “boom or bust” recruiting cycle, Stanley said. The military currently fields more than 15,000 active-duty recruiters.
Another factor that helps recruiting efforts is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, implemented in August, Stanley said. Of particular note was a provision service members had long sought to transfer the bill’s education benefits to their immediate families. The new law is the most extensive restructuring of education benefits for service members since the original GI Bill.
“The [bill] should enhance our recruiting efforts even more,” Stanley said, adding the bill also will play a crucial role in retention.