MILWAUKEE — No other job in the career of a noncommissioned officer will have greater strategic impact in the Army than that of recruiting, said Maj. Gen. David L. Mann, U.S. Army Recruiting Command commanding general.
The USAREC commander visited with Soldiers and leaders of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Milwaukee to share his recruiting priorities and address any command-level questions Feb. 1 – 2.
“If you are at all concerned with the vitality of the Army, if you love the Army, then what you are doing here (in Recruiting Command) is essential,” Mann said.
The general did not wish to minimize the importance of what others outside of USAREC do for the Army but to raise awareness among recruiters of their role.
“It bothers me when folks don’t appreciate what you’re doing,” Mann said. Recruiters serve on a different kind of frontline. They keep unqualified people from joining the Army.
“Some folks are just not cut out to be in the Army. It is an honor and privilege to wear the uniform. Don’t disparage it,” Mann said.
The Army is now more selective in who joins the ranks. In fiscal year 2011, the Army recruited the highest number of young men and women in terms of qualifications since 1992.
“You have to aspire to come into the Army. It is no longer a last resort to going to college,” Mann said.
The general emphasized how outdated perceptions of Army recruiters are hurting the Army’s relationship with the American public. To counter those misperceptions, Mann told recruiters that his priority is to establish sound and enduring relationships with high schools.
“Go to the high schools and tell them, ‘I want to work with you to keep that young man or woman in school regardless of whether he joins the Army.'” he said. “That’s the Army giving back to America.”
Building relationships with counselors and teachers so they come to believe that recruiters want what is best for students is the way to change long-held misperceptions, Mann said.
After sharing his vision with the Soldiers, Mann addressed questions about the implementation of Small Unit Recruiting. For Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion, the changes may be a minimal adjustment from Team Recruiting. Nonetheless, the general emphasized how the new approach empowers center commanders (formerly station commanders) with greater leadership.
“A center commander is not just a technical expert on recruiting, he leads the organization, resources talents, and develops the team,” said Mann.
For Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Lawlor that means he can expect a greater challenge at his next assignment. The battalion master trainer said he remembers a time when station commanders were considered more like top sales people, not so much great NCOs.
“As a center commander, I’ll have to know my Soldiers, their individual strengths and weakness, and combine their efforts to make mission,” Lawlor said.
Other Soldiers were not so much concerned with the transition to SUR but were pleased to have the commanding general reach out to meet with them.
Staff Sgt. Melissa Murphy, Madison West Recruiting Station, met a USAREC commander for the first time since she started recruiting in 2008.
“It was beneficial to hear genuine accolades from him about what we are doing. The hard work one puts into this job often goes unnoticed,” Murphy said.
She also appreciated learning how the Army will become more selective about who gets to stay in the Army.
“The Army only gets better because of it (increasing performance standards for retention). If you are not meeting height and weight standards, if you are undisciplined, or have disciplinary action against you, then someone else should take over your responsibility,” Murphy said. “We (as recruiters) are charged to find excellent ambassadors of this country and Army.”