Teach a Marine to Recruit …

It might be one of the great military campaigns of recent time — the Marine Corps has grown its force by more than 25,000 in less than half the time it projected. 

Both the Marine Corps and the Army, deemed the busiest by lawmakers and budgeteers in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, were green-lighted to up their endstrength. The Corps would go from 177,000 (or so) to 202,000. The Army would add 65,000 to its active rolls, approaching the 550,000 mark.

The few and the proud needed to recruit. Recruiting is a military campaign. The Marine Corps has long had a little more to offer those who succumbed to its seductive call. They hawk pride and belonging. They sell l’essence des Marines. The recent infusion of cash incentives did not hurt, though the intangible remains the staple of every Marine recruiter’s diet. Teaching a Marine to recruit is possibly more effective than teaching one to fish. 

There was a five-year plan to grow the Corps by 5,000 each year. Maybe they knew the needed the bodies quickly and did not have the luxury of time. Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway planned this like an amphibious assault. Conway added 500 recruiters to his already 3,500 or so across the U.S. The Corps increased recruiting bonuses but not by much ($66 to $89 million). Why recruit ‘em if you can’t retain ‘em? The Marine Corps offered reenlistment incentives, reportedly catapulting retention figures from 24 percent to 35 percent. The effort admittedly was helped along by a sluggish economy and unattractive job market.

The Marine Corps says the campaign already is paying off. Rotations are said to have slowed giving Marines more time at home. The Corps still has a few bodies to snatch but will have its full expansion completed very soon.

The Army has projected reaching its goal by 2010, earlier than anticipated, and those busy boys even might come in under that. Recent reports have announced the Army is relaxing its weight standards — sort of. If a recruit is approved for a weight waiver, he or she has a year to meet Army standards. If they don’t — and some have not — they are tossed. The Marines have not instituted a weight waiver program.

 Big narcissistic surprise.

Recent Posts