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Army on track to meet recruiting, retention goals

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/26/2004

By Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Triggs

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 26, 2004) -- One of the Army's most deployed divisions is on schedule to meet its retention goals for fiscal year 2004, and the rest of the Army appears to be on track as well.

Media coverage -- not always favorable of the war -- has apparently not deterred America's youth from enlisting in the armed forces. Recruiting numbers so far have surpassed expected quotas.

Last week 15 Soldiers re-enlisted at Fort Drum, N.Y., boosting the numbers for the 10th Mountain Division this fiscal year to about 200.

"Retention is a priority because if you don't keep skilled Soldiers in boots, you can't go to war and fight as effectively," said Sgt. 1st Class Randall Goodine, a Fort Drum career counselor.

The Army and Army Reserve retention goal for FY04 is 28,201, and the Army remains guardedly optimistic that it will achieve all retention goals for this fiscal year, said officials from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1.

The active Army has achieved 98 percent of its year-to-date mission, the Army Reserve has achieved 96 percent of its YTD mission. The National Guard has retained almost 130 percent of its YTD mission. A percentage of the Army Guard retention numbers include involuntary extensions due to Stop Loss, National Guard officials said.

In order to continue to meet retention missions, it is important that the Army fund advertising, marketing, well-being programs and incentives at the highest possible levels, G1 officials said.

Drum Soldiers have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and Goodine said back-to-back deployments haven't deterred Soldiers from re-enlisting because "We have a lot of professionals that enjoy what they're doing and are here to protect America's freedoms."

One of those professionals is Spc. Elton Thomas who has been to Afghanistan twice since the Global War on Terrorism began in 2001. "I like the Army," said Thomas, who recently re-enlisted for three years. "I like what it represents. It's life for me."

There is no one reason why Soldiers re-enlist. A Soldier from Fort Myer, Va., said he re-enlisted for professional development.

"I'm currently a male administrative specialist, and I'm afraid when I go back in the civilian world there won't be very many jobs I can fill," said Spc. Marques Washington.

The next move for Washington is changing military specialties and becoming a medical equipment repairer. "I've been around a lot of great people who have helped me along the way, and if I can help anyone it would be to say, `if you re-enlist give 100 percent and never regret your decision.'"

The announcement of the FY04 Present Duty Assignment Targeted Selective Re-enlistment Bonus -- for personnel assigned to units in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, where Soldiers received a bonus of $5,000 along with updates to the regular Selective Reenlistment Bonus program -- have helped improve retention results, G1 officials said.

All Army components are working to preserve power and improve readiness, officials said, by developing and implementing new initiatives to enhance retention efforts. Legislative revisions are being monitored to provide greater flexibility in the types and amounts of incentives that can be given to Soldiers deploying to or returning from supporting GWOT, officials added.

While career counselors and G1 officials work at retaining qualified troops, recruiters continue to scout out potential recruits to put in fatigues.

Most people want to succeed in life, and that's just what the Army offers, said Sgt. 1st Class John McClain, the station commander for the Winchester, Va., recruiting office.

The Army has enlisted 41,467 individuals so far this fiscal year - 115 more than expected. The Army Reserve has exceeded its YTD mission by 51 - recruiting 9,449 so far this fiscal year.

McClain said that recruiters at his Winchester station have already met 98 percent of their mission requirements for this fiscal year.

"Only a few recruits have asked if it's a chance they may get deployed, and the fact is yes." McClain said. "How can you not expect it. It's like volunteering to be a firefighter, but not expecting to put out fires."

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