4th Inf. Div. meets retention mission
October 25, 2012
By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)
ORT CARSON, Colo. -- 4th Infantry Division officials retained 3,323 Soldiers in fiscal 2012, becoming one of only two divisions in U.S. Army Forces Command to meet its retention mission.
"This is a pretty significant accomplishment," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, command general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, during an Oct. 16 recognition ceremony. "For this division to lead the phase one for the Army … (that's) phenomenal work on your part."
Command officials recognized brigade combat teams for their accomplishments in retention; Soldiers who impacted retention by encouraging comrades to re-enlist; and the fiscal 2012 career counselor of the year during the breakfast ceremony.
Split into two phases, the retention mission meets the congressional mandate to retain an "end strength" number to accomplish the wartime mission, said Sgt. Maj. Michael Harris, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson command career counselor.
For fiscal 2012, FORSCOM mandated the 4th Inf. Div. retain 3,056 Soldiers. The division exceeded that number by 267 re-enlistees.
"The leaders proved we can retain quality Soldiers and meet end strength numbers," Harris said.
Despite an Army drawdown, Harris said retention goals remain the same.
"The mission may be a little smaller, but not much," he said. "Our mission has not been reduced."
Harris said that by 2017, the Army's end strength number will reduce to 490,000 Soldiers, but there is "no significant drop in retention numbers."
In fiscal 2013, 4th Inf. Div. must retain 2,873 Soldiers in initial, mid-career and career categories.
Harris said he's confident the 4th Inf. Div. will meet that goal.
"We will not fail," he said.
In order to meet retention numbers, career counselors within battalions and brigades meet with Soldiers who fall within a "re-enlistment window" and meet basic eligibility standards such as being able to pass an Army physical fitness test, pass height and weight standards and qualify within their military occupational specialty.
Harris said that if a Soldier wants to re-enlist and meets the eligibility standards, he may speak with the unit's career counselor to discuss the terms of his re-enlistment based on his qualifications, the Army needs and his preferences. The Soldier's commander may then perform the re-enlistment.
If a Soldier decides not to re-enlist, he continues to meet with the unit's career counselor as well as the Reserve component career counselors.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Drink-water, battalion career counselor, 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 214th Fires Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., was named the fiscal 2012 4th Inf. Div. Career Counselor of the Year, receiving an Army Commendation Medal and trophy.
Drinkwater said it was an honor to receive recognition for his hard work.
"I bring a skill set that retains America's sons and daughters," he said.
As Anderson concluded his remarks, he applauded the efforts of retention personnel.
"Retention is a mission for the Army," he said. "You make that happen. … It makes a difference."
Although battalions and brigades rely on career counselors to help meet retention goals, units also depend on noncommissioned officers. Five NCOs from four brigades as well as Reserve NCO received special recognition from Anderson.
"The Soldiers recognized had a direct impact in their unit-level retention program," Harris said.
Staff Sgt. Carl Pulver, 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th BCT; Staff Sgt. Robert Sexton, 1st Bn., 66th Armor Reg., 1st BCT; Staff Sgt. John Brown, 1st Bn., 67th Armor Reg., 2nd BCT; 1st Sgt. Jason Leger, 64th Brigade Support Bn., 3rd BCT; and Sgt. 1st Class Richard Queen, Headquarters and Headquarters Bn., 4th Inf. Div., received commander's coins for their retention efforts.
"Any time the command recognizes you, it reinforces you're on the right track," Queen said. "I like working with the Soldiers and having an impact on their future career. … For me, it's not about the coin or the award, it's about the Soldiers."
(Spc. Nathan Thome, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, contributed to this article.)
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