During the third week of March 2010, the Army
Recruiting and Retention School and recruiting
representatives from nine nations gathered at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) headquarters at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to engage for the first time in open dialog about recruiting processes and technologies.
“The command has always received foreign visitors interested in learning about how we recruit,” said Rick Ayer, director of the USAREC commander’s initiatives group and coordinator for the command’s first International Recruiting Summit. Ayer added that the Recruiting and Retention School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, has run a program for years that sends recruiting officers and noncommissioned officers to other countries to teach recruiting practices and to help establish volunteer forces. Yet, the Army had never conducted a formal recruiting and retention workshop or conference with other nations.
During a visit to the Recruiting and Retention School, Major General Donald M. Campbell, Jr., the USAREC commanding general, discussed the large number of international visitors to both the recruiting command and the schoolhouse with Brigadier General Mark A. McAlister, the Army Soldier Support Institute commander. Together, they developed the idea of initiating a forum in which the Army and its international partners could collaborate and exchange ideas.
USAREC invited 15 countries to participate—some that already had been working with the command or the Recruiting and Retention School and some that had approached the Department of the Army and the Army Training and Doctrine Command to learn more about recruiting. Some of the invited nations had been recruiting for all-volunteer forces for some time, while others had not yet established all-volunteer forces. Nine nations sent representatives: Afghanistan, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Lieutenant General Benjamin C. Freakley, commanding general of the Army Accessions Command, told summit attendees that the U.S. all-volunteer force has been around for over 40 years. “We’ve learned a lot along the pathway to sustaining an all-volunteer force. . . . It is critically important to us that we share lessons learned with our partners and allies [and] we want to learn from you.” Freakley reinforced the idea of the open forum during his remarks to the group via video teleconference.
The 3-day event centered on five primary areas: the recruiting process and operations; market intelligence; marketing, public affairs, and outreach; manning the force; and training the recruiting force. In the mornings, the group discussed challenges common to many of the countries. However, they only had time to delve briefly into potential solutions to individual issues because of the tightly packed schedule.
In the afternoons, the representatives toured the Army Accessions Support Brigade on post, the Elizabethtown Recruiting Station, the Louisville Military Entrance Processing Station, and the command’s recruiting operations and cyber recruiting centers.
“We’re all in the same business, we’re open to good ideas and willing to share ideas that work,” said Brigadier J.T. Jackson, United Kingdom Director of Recruiting and Training (Operations). Jackson, who had previously visited the command as part of a recruiting partnership exchange, said that after seeing USAREC’s Partnership for Youth Success program, the United Kingdom had begun working on changing the way it markets its army. In the past, its army had been promoted as a career. He noted, however, that in doing so it was missing out on developing links with business and industry to sell army service as a short-term job with future potential, as the U.S. Army is doing with the Partnership for Youth Success.
Philipe Ponties, Assistant Manager for Recruitment
and Vocational Training for
the French Army Human Resource Management Command tries out a video game at the Elizabethton, Kentucky, recruiting center. (Photo by Julia Bobick, Recruiter Journal)
Campbell called the event “beyond his wildest dreams successful.” He added that he hoped this collaboration would foster relationships not previously realized and serve both USAREC and its recruiting partners well in establishing and modernizing recruiting business practices. “Just as we do among friends in our personal lives, we are acting as sounding boards for each other to ensure we do the right thing efficiently and accurately in the recruiting processes,” he said.
Campbell stated that he would like the summit to become an annual event and welcomed the opportunity to host it again next year.