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American Forces Press Service

Recruiting, Retention On Track, Official Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2005 Although the Army is experiencing recruiting challenges, overall retention and recruiting in the armed forces remain solid, a top defense official said today.

Testifying before the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, David S. C. Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said that all services except the Army have met or exceeded quantity and quality objectives for active-duty enlistees through June of fiscal 2005.

The quality objective for recruits is critical, Chu said, and is measured by aptitude and educational achievement. While the Army fell short in its quantity of enlistees, the quality of new soldiers remained high, he explained.

To meet its goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers by the end of the fiscal year, the Army is pursuing three initiatives, Chu said. The first is to add active-duty recruiters. The second is to offer stronger incentives, with increased enlistment bonuses and an increase in the Army College Fund. The last is to use more targeted advertising, focusing on "influencers."

Influencers are people such as parents, teachers and guidance counselors who can have an effect on young peoples' decisions about their future, Chu said. These people need to be reminded of the nobility of military service so they will support young people who decide to enlist, he noted.

In addition, Chu called on committee members to lend their support and promote the value of the military to the public. "We hope that you will partner with us in this effort by teaming with us to emphasize the importance, nobility and value of service," he said.

Retention in all the services remains high, due in large part to the work of Congress to achieve needed pay raises and develop flexible compensation programs, Chu said. Continued support from Congress is key in keeping retention and recruiting strong, he added.

Included in the fiscal 2006 National Defense Authorization Act are requests for increases in the maximum amount for hardship duty pay and in the maximum allowable amount that can be offered under the selective re-enlistment bonus program, Chu said. Both these increases are important in sustaining future force strength, he said.

Already included in the act are an increase in the maximum level for an enlistment bonus from $20,000 to $30,000 and a one-year pilot test allowing the Army to offer a $1,000 referral bonus to existing soldiers, Chu said. Both these provisions will have a definite, positive impact on recruiting, he said.

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