Solving the Recruiting Problem

Interesting assesment from Strategypage.

June 6, 2005: As the U.S. Army struggles to recruit enough people to maintain its strength, the U.S. Navy has the opposite problem; how to get rid of 50,000 excess sailors. The navy has to lose more people than the army is short. What’s going on here? It’s simple. The army is at war, and the navy isn’t. You get shot at, you don’t like it. Most folks can figure that one out for themselves. But it gets rather more strange. The army recruiting problems are with their non-combat troops. It’s much easier to recruit troops whose primary job is fighting.

It’s not like being a sailor is risk free. If you work on the deck crew of a carrier, or fly a carrier aircraft, your risk of death or injury is higher than for most civilian jobs. Also, living on a ship for six months at a time, and this is what happens to most sailors several times during a typical four year enlistment, is not the most pleasant experience. But if you’re in the army, and sent to Iraq, you have a 2.5 percent chance of getting killed or wounded. Actually, only about 15 percent of those who get hurt die, and most of those who are injured are back at work in days, or weeks at most. But it's still more risk than you face back in the United States. It’s the stress, the expectation of getting hurt, that most troops in Iraq remember the most. You spend a lot more time dealing with the expectation of getting hurt, than in actually being attacked.

The army has responded to this situation by increasing the stress and intensity of training for non-combat troops. For about a decade, the army offered two types of combat training. For the non-combat troops (who comprise about 85 percent of the army), there was rather low stress training, and not a whole lot of it. For the combat troops, life was much more intense. But that’s what combat troops were there for, why they enlisted, and they ate it up. The army finally realized, after decades of seeing marine recruiters take the best prospects for combat jobs, that there are a lot of young guys out there looking for a challenge. The marines always deliberately offered this, now the army does too. “Are you tough enough?” is a recruiting pitch that works. But not for non-combat troops, who make up the vast majority of troops. These folks are looking for a job, and fringe benefits (particularly the tuition aid for college later on.) All the services have been successful at selling recruits on the idea that, “it’s a job.” The pay is competitive, and fringes are abundant, and you get to travel. But the downside is that, if there’s a war, there is danger for some.

There are many people who seek out dangerous situations. You don’t have to pay them to do it, they get off on the risk and stress. Look at the large number of people who, at their own expense, engage in dangerous sports. However, these enthusiasts are civilians, they can stop any time they want. And many do, after they get banged up a bit. In the army, you face the threat of legal prosecution, and prison, if you refuse to go into harm’s way when ordered to.

The army generals are not in a panic over this situation. They have a solution that works, but will cause a big stink in Congress. No, it’s not the draft. The last thing the generals want are reluctant conscripts. The way you get more volunteers is to offer more money. There is no shortage of volunteers, usually men with military experience, to take civilian security jobs in Iraq. These volunteers get paid at least three times what the troops get, and that makes a big difference. The army is already moving in that direction, one small step at a time. Special pay for those serving in combat zones has been increased several times already, and will probably go up again. This sort of approach is not new. During World War II, a lot of men who volunteered for parachute units said a major reason for taking on that dangerous job was the extra pay (about $500 a month, in current dollars). It turned out that being a paratrooper was safer as well, as the parachute divisions had lower casualties than the regular infantry divisions. This demonstrates another reason why people are reluctant to sign up for non-combat jobs. They know they will be less well trained for combat situations, and will be out there waiting to get hit, while the combat troops go looking for fights. This makes a difference when it comes to stress. To be in control of a situation is a lot less stressful.

So the army plans to solve their recruiting problem with more training, more money, and turning a lot of non-combat troops into stress-proof fighters. This is not the kind of “transformation” the army was expecting before September 11, 2001. But wars always bring unexpected change, and there it is.
See that the US military is planning to remove the ban on recruiting those with ' slight impediments '...excessive tatoos will be okay as will be ' minor ' criminal records and ' previous' drug abuse issues..other measures are being considered to help stem the shortfall of recruits needed for the Army...

so far no mention of lowering the I.Q. level further to allow for .....

or turning to an old Brit trick from the 19th century of turning out the prisons..after all the US has millions of ' able bodied' men presently behind bars whose value to the military must be potentially inestimable.. they already know how to kill and beat up bad guys, knock down doors and otherwise use firearms and assorted weaponry...
ready made workforce, trained and familiar with rules, regs and ' uniforms '..
50,000 excess sailors? Transfer them to the Army. :lol:

Canadians have usually run to the US to join up when the US was at war. I wonder how many have this time?

I've seen estimates of 40,000 to 55,000 Canadians joining during the Vietnam era. A real estimate is difficult as many used US addresses for their place of residence.
Of course the 1968 reductions with unification was part of the reason for many of them to go south.
Not just Canadians. In the book 'Her Majestys Vietnam Soldiers' (I can't recall who it was by) the author was serving with the NZ forces out there and was suprised by the amount of Brits who'd joined the US Army to fight!
Speedy said:
Not just Canadians. In the book 'Her Majestys Vietnam Soldiers' (I can't recall who it was by) the author was serving with the NZ forces out there and was suprised by the amount of Brits who'd joined the US Army to fight!
I understand that the guy who died organising the evacuation of one of the twin towers was originaly cornish and had joined the US Army when he had emigrated many years earlier. The report that I saw said that he fought in the battle on which "We Were Soldiers" was based.

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