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American Forces Press Service

Army to Recruit 'Downsized' Airmen, Sailors

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2004 -- After they "Cross Into the Blue" or "Accelerate Their Life," the Army hopes service members leaving the Air Force or Navy will join the "Army of One."

A new program, Operation Blue to Green, seeks to recruit airmen and sailors leaving their service due to force reductions into the Army, which is temporarily increasing its ranks.

Plans call for the Air Force to reduce its numbers by 16,000 and the Navy, by 7,900 by the end of 2005, officials from the two services confirmed.

An Army spokesperson called Operation Blue to Green a win-win opportunity that "will definitely benefit the Department of Defense as well as these individuals."

Details of the program are still being worked out, but an Army Web site says the program tells potential recruits it "will allow you to continue to serve your country, to maintain the benefits of military service and to expand your horizons by gaining new training and trying new things."

Candidates for the program are airmen and sailors in grades E-5 and below who qualify for an honorable discharge from active duty. Participation in the Operation Blue to Green program, the Web site says, "is dependent upon your service's willingness to release you from your current active duty obligation."

Marines and Coast Guardsmen interested in the program must first complete their current active-duty service obligations before enlisting in the Army, the site advises.

New soldiers recruited under Operation Blue to Green will go through a four- week "warrior transition course" being developed by the Army Training and Doctrine Command. "This will further orient them in terms of what it means to be a soldier in the Army," the Army spokesperson said.

This new course in basic combat skills will substitute for the nine-week course currently used to train airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen enlisting in the Army, the Web site noted.

Bonuses will be offered to recruits for selected military occupational specialties, although details were not yet available.

While the Army finalizes details about the program, it's wasting no time getting the word out to potential candidates. An online information form encourages interested candidates to sign up for more information. However, the site notes, "Until formal policies have been approved, Army recruiters cannot accept applications, process paperwork or reserve training seats."


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