The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu October 10, 2007 9:30 AM EDT

DoD News Briefing with Under Secretary Chu from the Pentagon

BRYAN WHITMAN (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs): Well, thank you for joining us this morning. Let me give all of our briefers an opportunity to get into the room. (Pause.) As promised, we have finished up the fiscal year, and with us today to talk about recruiting and retention is Dr. David Chu, the undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. And with him, he has several of his colleagues from the military departments to talk specifically about their efforts, but he's going to start off and kind of give you an overview, and then take some questions, along with his colleagues from the departments.

So, sir, thank you again for joining us.

MR. CHU: Bryan, thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Thank you for joining us today and for this opportunity to discuss the department's recruiting and retention results for fiscal year 2007, which, as you know, closed on September 30th.

I am joined this morning by my colleagues, who -- in alphabetical order -- General Bostick, who commands the Army Recruiting Command; Admiral Kilkenny, who commands the Navy Recruiting Command; General Tryon, who commands the Marine Corps effort; and General Vautrinot, who commands the Air Force recruiting effort, and they'll help me answer all your more difficult questions.

I do want to start with a few words that I hope would put these numbers into context and then very briefly summarize the results. I believe you do have the press release that we have offered that gives that summary.

It is useful to stress that recruiting and retention results are in the end a means, not an objective by themselves. They are a means to be sure that we have the right number and types of people to staff the military enterprise of the United States of America. And that strength, that end strength, so to speak, as a target itself is a means to a further end. Ultimately what counts in the United States is what military capabilities can we field, and do we have the right people in terms of their qualities, their motivation, their ability to perform to ensure that the equipment that we acquire indeed performs as the country would expect.

Today, of course, we have two military services, the Army and the Marine Corps, that are growing. And we have two military services, the Navy and the Air Force, that have shrunk their active-duty end strength as they make room for the new capabilities, for the investment that's necessary to acquire those capabilities for the future.

This was a successful recruiting/retention year for all four military services. On the recruiting front, as you know from the press release, all four active services made their numerical goals, and with one exception they all made their quality goals.

I want to speak to those quality standards very briefly. We set three key quality standards in the Department of Defense and have since the mid-1990s. These standards come out of 30-plus years of experience with what works in the volunteer force. We aim to have 90 percent of the new enlistees -- meaning those without prior service, the new enlistees in the Department of Defense -- have a high school diploma as a measure of whether they will succeed in our enterprise. We aim to have 60 percent or more score above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. That's our version of the SAT, you might say. And we aim to have less than 4 percent score in Mental Category IV -- that's between the 10th and the 30th percentile -- on that same examination.

In other words, we aim for the military to draw an above-average slice of America into its enlisted ranks, that’s setting aside the officers, for whom we set even higher standards and who comprise about one-eighth of our total strength.

And we made those standards in all force areas, with one exception. The Army, the active Army, did not meet the high school diploma standard. It recruited, in terms of non-prior service enlistees, 79 percent with high school diplomas. That's approximately the national average, and obviously we'd like to do just a bit better.

But we're proud of the record overall. And it means the department as a whole met that record.

And I'd just like to put that record in historical context. I have a poster board to my right, and I think they can display on the TV screens where the department has been on these indicators over the years. The graphic displays the standards. It shows the 90 percent high school diploma goal at the top. As you can see, the department as a whole has been at or above that standard for some time. It shows the 60 percent scoring in Mental Categories I to IIIA, above average, on this examination. And we have continued to meet that standard in the department as a whole and in the individual active components as well.

And you can see that in earlier years, as late actually as the late 1970s, early 1980s, we did not always meet these kinds of standards. I think it is a proud record. I do think it's important to achieve these goals, because they do help explain why our forces perform so well.

We had similar good success in the reserve components. Four of the six reserve components made their numerical goals. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve [sic – should be Air National Guard] both came close. The Army National Guard stood at 95 percent of its goal. I'm sorry, the Army National Guard, 95 percent of its goal, yes. And the Army Reserve [sic] at 93 percent of its goal.

Five of the six reserve components made their high school diploma graduate goal. That's a 90 percent or better. The United States Army Reserve made 86 percent. And four of the six made the Armed Forces Qualification Test goal, 60 percent or better. The two exceptions, Army National Guard, United States Army Reserve, came in at 57 percent, still above average but not quite as much above average as we would like. All reserve components met the four percent max goal in terms of Mental Category IV.

On the retention front, we equally are proud of the record again this year. It speaks volumes about the patriotism, dedication and willingness to sacrifice of young Americans today. All four active services met their aggregate retention goals.

And the reserve components through August -- this does lag a bit in the reserve community -- are well within what we call the attrition target. For the reserves -- (inaudible) -- in other words, how many did we lose? We set a ceiling of what we'd like to see that be. All six reserve components were well within that ceiling through August. And therefore I expect them to show the same result for the end of the fiscal year.

The Army National Guard, I think, is a particularly important success story. The Army National Guard is at its historic high in terms of high school diploma graduate content. And it is over the strength target we had set for the end of the year, 350,000. It's going to come in at 352 (thousand), 353,000, I expect, when the figures are all in.

With that brief introduction as to where we came out, and why the indicators we’ve used are important, I’d like to invite my colleagues to join me here at the podium and invite your questions on these results and related issues.

Q Some of the military people we've spoken to in the Army, including General Casey, say that they're a little concerned about some of the signals they see, that families may not be as supportive as they once were. And they are concerned about when this will show up in recruiting.

I'm wondering, for many of you, especially with the army, what signals, what indicators you see that military families may not be as supportive of seeing their loved ones go off for third, fourth tours of duty.

MR. CHU: First, I should emphasize that the fraction of force has served more than one tour is still a minority of the total force. That's true in all four services, true both active and reserve. But yes, it is an important burden that the families bear in those services, and certainly it creates strains. We have put additional energy in the Department into programs that support families. We are attentive to the issues that they raise.

But we think that the ultimate goal -- the ultimate measure here is, well, do our people stay with us? Yes, it is a strain. There's no way around it. Yes, it is a sacrifice. I think we need to appreciate as a country the sacrifice these individuals are making. But they are sticking with it.

General Bostick, if you want to say a word or two additionally --

Q General Bostick, if you could just talk about what you see within the Army -- in front of the microphone, please -- from soldiers and from their families, what are you hearing from them?

MAJOR GENERAL THOMAS BOSTICK (commander, U.S. Army Recruiting Command): I'd say the key indicator is retention. And as we look at retention, that's a key indicator whether the families are continuing to support their soldiers as they go through multiple deployments. And right now we're seeing that retention is quite good -- over a hundred percent in all the components of the Army, but we're watching it closely.

Where we're concerned is on the quality of life, and I think if you look at what our secretary of the Army, chief of staff in the Army and the entire Army is focused on in terms of improving the quality of life -- the housing, the opportunities in education, in high schools and at the junior levels for their children, the opportunities on installations to live a good quality of life -- that's making a difference. So a lot of money has gone into that, a lot of leadership and energy. And we believe that that will make a difference.

Q I'm sorry. If I could just follow up, we're now six -- into the seventh year of the war. So what has taken the Army in particular so long to recognize the issue of the families and put this extra $100 million into family programs?

Mr. Chu: If I may preempt it, this is not a late recognition. We have, throughout this administration, put important emphasis on families, starting with the president's pledge, really in his campaign for office, to improve family housing.

And by the end of this decade, we will in all four services have largely eliminated the substandard housing that prevailed before.

So there's been a lot of energy on family issues throughout the administration. You see that in the department's recent initiative to curb pay day lending as it applies to military personnel. We received from Congress authority and published the final rule on that effective October 1st, essentially limits what so-called pay day lenders can charge military households.

So this is not a new agenda. You see it in our efforts to ensure that military children, even if they are not legal residents of the state in which their parents find themselves stationed, can enjoy in-state tuition rates at state universities. We now have a majority -- that's not where we started -- majority of states in the United States afford that benefit to military children even if the parents move away, provided the child continues in that educational institution.

That's a major improvement. Virginia was one of the most important to join that group within the last year -- very, very big plus for military families. So it's not a new agenda.

Sir, you had a question.

Q If I could follow up on the level of influence there is. I keep hearing that those numbers keep dipping in terms of people who are supporting the troops going into the Army and Marine Corps. How are the Army and the Marine Corps dealing with this, given that they're going to have to expand over the next couple of years?

MR. CHU: We are all concerned about this, and this goes back to the question asked earlier about how do these attitudes affect recruiting.

Influencers’ support has come down over the last four or five years from where it was earlier in this decade. It did stabilize this last year, so that is encouraging. I think it's important for all citizens to support the choices of young people, and this is one of the ironies we've seen in this extended conflict; that the young people are willing to step forward, but the more senior members of our society -- not to indict my own generation -- are less willing to applaud that choice when they do so. And that presents my colleagues here, I think, with a major challenge as they go forward.

But the good news is it did stabilize -- at least according to our poll results over this last year. Our challenge is how do we turn that around and make it a more positive statement on the part of parents, uncles, aunts, school teachers, counselors, coaches, authority figures in our society.

Q Stabilized on what level? On what level did it stabilize?

MR. CHU: Well, in the way the poll -- as I understand it from polling experts, what counts in these polling results is what's the trend. The absolute level in terms of question and answer depends on how you phrase the question. We've asked the question the same way since roughly 2003; asked in that way, the answers are about the same in this year -- this last summer's results from the prior summer's results.


Q The Army apparently is going to be accelerating the expansion by two years, and I'm interested in knowing how they're going to do that.

You know, how many people is the Army going to have to recruit a year in order to meet that goal?

And the other thing is I was curious, because just a week ago, they were talking about expanding it -- accelerating it by one year. So I'm wondering, what's happened in the intervening week?

MR. CHU: I'm not sure I know the genesis of the one-year report. We did have a program of record that got to the current end strength target for the active Army, which was 547,400, I think, in fiscal year 2012. The secretary has approved the secretary of the Army's proposal to accelerate that goal to 2010. So that's the two-year acceleration that you mentioned.

End strength is a product of three major factors: Recruiting, which we've emphasized this morning; retention, which we've also emphasized this morning, and General Bostick's comment about high retention rates is an important contributor to success in this regard; and third is attrition -- do people leave before the normal term of service would have expired for all sorts of reasons; it may be medical, it may be personal hardship, it may be unsuitability to military service and so on and so forth. And the Army and the other services have succeeded in reducing attrition over the last several years. So all three of those contribute to can we get to 547,400 by fiscal year 2010, which is the Army's current goal.

Q And so how many people is the Army going to have to recruit per year in order to meet that --

MR. CHU: I'm not trying to evade your question. It partly depends on the answer to these other two factors that I've identified. If they do better on retention and do better on attrition, then they need fewer recruits. It will be -- a simple answer to your question -- at least the 80,000 we recruited this year, probably somewhat more. But exactly how many more depends on the Army's success in these other lanes. So it's not a -- this is not a mechanical system in the end.

Q Well, when --

Q Isn't that goal set --

MR. CHU: Say again?

Q Isn't that goal set at the beginning of the year, before you know what the retention and attrition will be, though?

MR. CHU: We do set goals in the beginning of the year. But as my colleagues can tell you, as we joked about just before we came in this morning, leadership in each military -- Army can change those goals and does. In fact -- maybe General Tryon, I'll get you to comment on the Marine Corps perspective -- I know the commandant sometimes tinkers monthly with these goals. I don't know if you want to share your experience in this regard.

GEN. RICHARD TRYON (commander, Marine Corps Recruiting Command): Yeah. This year, as we embarked upon the end strength increase, the commandant was very keen to embrace the growth and accelerate our recruiting potential as quickly as possible.

I started out the year with a given mission, and over the course of the year, the mission was increased several times. And every time that mission is increased, that is the mission. And so therefore when people say, "Did you make your mission," or "How much above your mission did you recruit," well, we simply adjust our mission to the numbers that are handed down to us. So if the numbers that we were given equals mission, we made mission.

MR. CHU: They don't get to cite the previous record as an excuse as to why they didn't make the most recent one is another way to answer your question.


Q In terms of recruit quality, can you talk about what the policy is in terms of accepting recruits with prior criminal records? And has that percentage increased over time?

MR. CHU: This is an issue where I think the department has not explained well what it is trying to do.

The simple answer to your question is, not really. What we have called waivers are within the range we have observed historically, although at the high end of that range. The word "waiver," I think, is misleading. Some of the conditions that trigger a, quote, "waiver" are really standards. It's particularly true in the medical area.

In the question of conduct, which is what you're raising, we take a "whole person" stance. Now, we certainly are not going to accept for enlistment anyone with a serious criminal record, but the services ask questions, as they should, of new entrants that try to ensure we know whom we're recruiting, to whom are we offering the opportunity to put on the uniform of the United States and act as an agent of the United States government. We want to know who that whole person is. We want to have confidence in the person before we start.

So one of the questions they ask about is, did you ever use marijuana? If I remember correctly -- General Tryon, correct me if I'm wrong -- in the Marine Corps if you answer "yes" about one use, about one use, it requires a waiver. That's a pretty tough standard. Not to be cheeky about this, if we applied that standard to our legislative overseers, a significant fraction would need waivers to join the United States military. The Army is more generous. I believe General Bostick requires you have to acknowledge you used it twice before he has a waiver process go into your record.

Now, to criminal issues, we require a review if you were ever arrested or charged unless those charges were dismissed by a finding of "not guilty" by a court. So the fact that the charges were never pressed, the fact that charges were dropped, the fact that charges may have been the subject of a no-contest plea, all of that requires a review on our part.

There are a small number of people who do have convictions on their record, that is true. Let me give you some examples from the past. A young man tries to smoke bees out of a beehive -- this is a real example from the services -- sets the beehive on fire. Unfortunately, it's too close to the house next door. House catches fire. House burns to some extent. Charged with arson. Fifteen years old. Is that really someone you're going to -- no other infraction in our society. Are you really going to deny that person service on that basis?

The service -- and this is -- has to generally be a flag officer making the determination. The service decided, in that case, no.

So it's not that you have to have never done anything wrong as a young person. It's that we demand to know, before we enlist you, what issues there may be in your record. And if there is an issue, we require a review.


Q My question is, has the percentage of people accepted into the military with prior convictions increased? That's one. Number two, has the percentage of recruits for whom you have to grant a personal conduct waiver -- has that increased over the last couple years?

MR. CHU: The -- I expect -- waiver data are only available through June, so it's a little hard for me to forecast what the year will be. But I expect the year -- for the department as a whole, we'll be roughly where we were last year. That year was at the high end of the historic range of waivers in department history for all causes. That includes medical, not just conduct, in its total. We think that's quite acceptable, and it's a whole person review.

What really counts is, is that review accurate or not? In other words, do people misbehave once they come into the military? And I think you look at the record of the modern military and you look at the various indicators. Those are punishment rates; those are absent- without-leave rates; those are desertion rates. They continue to be at historically low levels.

Q Have attrition rates in basic training increased?

MR. CHU: No, they have actually come down.

Sir, question.

Q With respect to the Army Reserve, how are those numbers -- how much of those numbers is due to the Active First program, if you track those? And how does the Active First numbers compare to the last couple of years?

MR. CHU: I'll let General Bostick help me on this. But first of all, Active First was just initiated, so it's really about fiscal 2008, not so much 2007. It's really a National Guard program.

General Bostick, do you want to --

GEN. BOSTICK: It is a National Guard program, the Active First program. It was just initiated in October, and it will allow soldiers that the National Guard recruits to come into the active force. So that has not had any impact on the Army Reserve members.

And I would like to follow up and talk about where we are on waivers. I think that’s very important to address that, and I know it's a topic of conversation. First, I'd like to say that everyone is qualified to serve in the United States Army that comes in.

They're qualified in a specific specialty that they choose. Last year, we had 85 percent of what we enlisted, did not need a waiver. So the answer to your question is 15 percent did require a waiver. This year, it's 18 percent that requires a waiver.

And when you look at it, just as Dr. Chu said, most of those are misdemeanors. About 87 percent of those that require a waiver are misdemeanors. They're small infractions that they've made in their life -- false identification, driving with a vehicle that doesn't belong to themselves -- somebody else's vehicle. They call it joyriding. They may have violated a curfew or something like that.

These are minor infractions. 87 percent of those with waivers, we believe we're looking at, is misdemeanors. And we ought to let those folks come into the Army if they deserve and they show that they're physically, mentally and morally qualified.

All of the others must be approved by a general officer. And although we call them serious criminal misconduct, just as Dr. Chu has pointed out, these are charges that oftentimes were made many years ago. A full 73 percent of those serious ones are charges where the individual was charged but never convicted. They were told to go out and do some community service; the charge was dismissed.

So we're not bringing in murderers, criminals, drug dealers, felons. Those people are not coming into the United States Army. This is a very high quality Army. I served in combat side-by-side with them. Many of the recruiters are combat veterans. They're going to go back to the force and serve next to these soldiers. They want them to be the highest quality.

MR. CHU: Sir.

Q Given the quotas that you hope to achieve in the Army and the Marine Corps, do you anticipate during the coming year or in the coming years having to -- given the current rate at which you're increasing recruiting, going to have to increase the number of waivers or percentage of waivers that you're now granting or to reduce standards on -- for high school diplomas or for AFQT?

MR. CHU: No, no. Those are the standards -- these standards were the product of 20-some years of experience at the time they were set, early to mid 1990s. They are the result of a National Academy of Sciences study that the department undertook to balance -- high quality costs more. These individuals have superior civilian opportunities. So you have to balance your desire to have high quality with what you're going to have to offer to achieve it. And that's where these standards come from. We do not intend to change them.

Q But the growth is significant. How do you plan to meet that growth, just in the coming year?

MR. CHU: Well, let me emphasize, some of that growth has already occurred. I think it's important to keep in mind that the Army this year will -- this last year, fiscal 2007, will finish approximate 519,000. In October of 2001, we were at 482,000 and a few hundred. So a good deal of this growth has already happened.

We have another 30,000 or so to go. I am confident the army is going to make it based upon the recruiting success to date, the retention success to date, the Army's specific success in getting in- service attrition to come down to more appropriate levels over time.

Q Just quickly, do you expect to employ any particular other measures to try to reach that goal; for instance, increasing the size of bonuses or other incentives --

MR. CHU: We will use, I'm confident, the full range of authorities the Congress has given us. The Congress has been very generous in giving us a wide latitude in terms of offering various kinds of incentives. There are bonuses. There are military occupational specialty choices. Maybe General Bostick can speak in more detail as to what seems to attract young people.

The Army has just announced a program in which you can accumulate credits towards a college degree, through credit for your Army courses that you take; has long had a program, Army Knowledge Online, that facilitates your off-duty-hour course efforts.

We will use the station of choice. People want to be in a particular location. There's unit of choice programs that are out there. So there's a wide range of incentives that we can employ.

I do think, coming back to one of your colleagues' questions earlier, we do need to work on this question of influencer attitudes. I think the big challenge to us is if influencer attitudes go south again in a major way, we will have trouble getting there. Primarily, if the country is not willing to support a strong military for the United States by supporting the choices of young people to select military service as an option, then yes, we will have trouble making it.

General Bostick, do you want to elaborate on the choices we could offer?

GEN. BOSTICK: Sir, we're pointing out education is very important. We know that high school diploma graduates want to move on to college. We believe that you can do both in the United States Army, that -- and we're helping soldiers to do that.

Last year, in our regular Army alone, we had about 264,000 soldiers taking courses through tuition assistance, and we paid out about $140 million for that.

Even in the Veterans Affairs Department, those that leave the Army, our veterans, are spending over a billion dollars in colleges and universities across the country. So we're pushing the education piece.

Where we're challenged is about 13 million of the youngsters graduating from high school -- they have a high school diploma in their hands, and they cannot score above 50 on the military test. So we're working with a program called March to Success. We're into the schools. We're helping them. It's a test-taking strategy program that they can work online. It helps you with the SAT, the ACT and the military test.

Last year we had about 90,000 that signed up online and are studying in it, studying that program. Only a small percentage of those will come into the Army. So we're trying to reach out to education and do our part as an Army to help this very important area for the country.

MR. CHU: Sir --

Q But aside from education, what are the influences --

MR. CHU: Let me go to this gentleman, then come back to you.

Q Quick, on the influencer issue -- if it goes south, you have a problem. To what extent do your polls indicate, though, that the negative influence or attitudes are influenced by Iraq -- that's a war of choice -- versus just the United States' role in the world and using power routinely, versus Iraq? If Iraq goes away, diminishes, then do you anticipate influence or attitudes improving?

MR. CHU: That's hard to tell is the honest answer. The department shifted its polling strategy early in this decade in terms of how we do the influencer polls. We now target people who are actually going to talk -- actually have a young person they're counseling, whereas before we just interviewed adults broadly.

So you can't quite link up the old polls pre-2001 with the new ones post-2001 -- from a methodological perspective, most unfortunate situation.

That said, that said, I think we have seen what I would call a secular, not just a cyclical, change. In other words, a long-term diminution in the willingness of those who influence young people's decisions to support or recommend to counsel military service as a good choice, and I do think that's a larger problem for our society to deal with.

Certainly, current -- the current conflict plays a role there, I would expect that, but I do think there's a longer-term trend, hard to prove with the evidence in hand.

Ma'am, I promised to go back to you.

Q Can you give us before and after numbers on the attrition rate you said declined and tell us what that's about, how that was achieved?

MR. CHU: I can, but not off the top of my head. I know -- General Bostick, do you know those numbers for the Army?

GEN. BOSTICK: Sir, I'd like to thanks to our drill sergeants and those in our training and doctrine command for what they have done in initial entry training. If you look back about 18 months ago, attrition was about 18 percent, and today it's just over 7 percent. And it's a tougher basic training; it's a tougher advanced individual training. It's combat-focused; it's warrior-task focused. Things like earning a combat life-saver certification is a goal for each of our basic trainees. What that entails is things like having to take an IV and give an IV, and that adds a level of stress that was never there before; doing convoy live fire exercises. What they are doing down there, the 70 percent now of drill sergeants who are combat veterans, are making sure that the young men and women that are going to basic training and advanced individual training are prepared to go off to their units, and if selected, go serve in combat, that they're prepared to serve and properly equipped and trained.

Q Could you talk to why are fewer washing out?

GEN. BOSTICK: They're taking the time to focus on the combat tasks that are necessary. If they're -- for example, if you're not making the PT, they're going to spend more time on the tasks that they need to to get you through the physical training piece. If you're not qualified in your weapon, they're spending a lot more time on the weapon early in the training; so a lot more combat task focus as opposed to some of the drill and ceremony and other tasks, the garrison-type tasks that they did in the past.

MR. CHU: I think also General Bostick's comments indicate the Army has changed its philosophy. It doesn't mean you're always going to love your drill sergeant going through this, but it's much more -- as I appreciate as an outsider -- a coaching philosophy now as opposed to, well, if you can't make it, out you go. So it's much more working with the recruit to make sure that he or she gets it as opposed to teaching to the middle of the class and letting the lower half flunk out.

Is that fair, General Bostick --

MR. WHITMAN: About one or two more.

Q Can I follow up on something you said a few minutes ago?

MR. CHU: Yes, please.

Q We were talking about waivers.

MR. CHU: Right.

Q And I believe you said that "a significant fraction" -- that was your words -- of your congressional overseers would need waivers to join the military. Do you have any evidence of that?

MR. CHU: Based upon public statements about past marijuana usage, that would be my foundation for that statement. I mean, we require a review if you acknowledge past marijuana usage.

Q Well, I'm sorry, but I really need to ask you to explain it. Are you saying in fact that members of Congress who oversee the Department of Defense, that a significant -- you know, I don't understand your statement, sir. Are you saying that a significant number of them are marijuana --

MR. CHU: I'm saying that -- Madame, I -- let me emphasize -- I'm saying that in our society, experimental drug usage is a significant issue with young people. We require a review if you acknowledge that you have done so, that’s all I'm saying. That affects a large fraction of our population, and therefore an increasing fraction in all elements of our society.


Q That's not exactly what you said, so I'm going to ask you to clarify again. You said "a significant fraction of your legislative overseers."

MR. CHU: They are representative of our society -- they're supposed to be. And I'm saying -- all I'm saying is that the standards we set are sufficiently -- in terms of review of your past behavior before you join the military, that a significant fraction of almost any cross-section of American society is going to have to be reviewed. Many young people have tried drugs. That's the reality in our society.


Q I wanted to go back to standards. How are these standards going to be enforced, particularly since you have a situation right now where the Army isn't meeting that standard on high school diplomas, and they're going to be under far greater pressure to -- you know, to come up with numbers to meet bigger goals?

MR. CHU: Let me put it this way. The progress of the Army specifically, but of all four services, as my colleagues can testify, on recruiting and retention is the subject of monthly reviews within the department. If we see a service lagging, certainly the service spends a lot of time looking at its own performance and making sure it's doing everything possible within its authority. So we see a service lacking, then we converse with that service -- well, what can we do together to change that picture?

Let me give you an example from the Army case. The Army elements came forward a couple years ago, I think now, General Bostick, and pointed out that if they could pay a referral fee, they could get people to refer their friends more, at higher rates than was otherwise the case. And the Army National Guard in particular has made very energetic use of this kind of authority, which the department has sanctioned and in fact got the statutory authority so we could support this program.

So we will work with any service that is lagging on one of these indicators to look at the authorities we have. Have we used them as energetically as we can? If we need new authority, and that's the subject of an annual review within the department and periodic updates of that review, we will go to the Congress and ask for that authority. So every year, we go through a major cycle. And the personnel arena is, to the distress of our colleagues in the legal fraternity who have to review all these, one of the biggest proposers of changes to the underlying statutes, so that we can get that kind of authority, in order to succeed.


MR. WHITMAN: Let's make this the last one here. Thank you.

Q General Bostick, have you seen any figures on how much money the Army plans to spend in FY '08 on incentives specifically for new recruits? And do you expect that number to go up if you have to bring in an additional several thousand?

GEN. BOSTICK: It really depends on a number of factors. We have to adjust to the environment, as in any fight that we're involved in. So we'll take a look at, what are the needs of the Army, and whether we need to adjust the bonuses or not.

But it's more than just bonuses. There are soldiers that come in for very patriotic reasons, so we appeal to that. We talk to the influencers. We are working programs like the two-year enlistment. We energize the two-year enlistment. But to get to your question, a couple years ago, the average cost of bringing a soldier into the Army, up to basic training, was about $16,000. And today, that's about $18,000 including the bonuses.

Q (Off mike) – something like the Quick Ship program, is there money that -- (off mike) – a figure, a ballpark of how much it's going to cost for next year at this increased number of end strength that you're supposed to bring in? Have you seen any kind of ballpark figures on how much it's going to cost --

GEN. BOSTICK: The department has that number. I don't have the number handy with me, but they have the capability to expand to the requirements that I have, and really it's not all about bonuses. Soldiers come in for many other different reasons.

MR. CHU: Yes, let me emphasize that. The Army will spend probably about $200 million in fiscal 2008 on bonuses as we currently foresee it. That's a very modest fraction of our total expenditures.

Average bonus is on the order of, I think, $8(,000) to $10,000, something like that. I can check that number for you for the record.

So it isn't -- some people do get significant bonuses, and that does get a lot of attention, I grant. But the typical person doesn't actually receive that large amount.

Thank you very much. Appreciate your attention and your interest.

Join the mailing list