Army Recruiters’ Jobs Will Be Harder Through SeptemberMore Troops Needed; Finding Qualified Applicants Difficult
Uncle Sam wants you!
On Feb. 14, Michael Halloran, chief of advertising and public affairs for the U.S. Army Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion announced its work load will substantially increase over the course of the next seven months. The battalion is headquartered at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, part of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
“U.S. Army leaders recently announced the need for 6,000 additional active-duty recruits and 1,500 additional Army Reserve recruits by the end of September as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act’s increase in the Army’s size,” he said in a press release.
It might seem President Trump is acting quickly to fulfill his campaign promises to beef up the country’s military forces. Actually, the legislation Halloran referred to was signed into law by former President Obama on Dec. 23.
Obama, though, signed the legislation with regrets, because it authorized a $619 billion military budget for the fiscal year, about $3.2 billion more than he had sought. It also set an-end strength Army of 476,000 soldiers, 16,000 more than the White House wanted; a 185,000 members-strong Marine Corps, up approximately 3,000 over the level sought by Obama; and an Air Force with 321,000 airmen, around 4,000 more than Obama wanted. Of the nation’s four major armed services, only the Navy, with 324,000 sailors, will remain at its current strength.
The legislation, which passed by a veto-proof margin in both the House and Senate, also increased military pay by 2.1 percent, the largest such increase since 2010. That will add about $550 a year in the pay of most junior enlisted personnel and about $1,800 annually for mid-career officers.
The legislation, said Halloran, will have U.S. Army Recruiting Command seeing its “largest in-year mission increase in the command’s history.” It will increase the mission of the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion from 2,257 enlistments to 2,472, an increase of 215.
That may not seem like much, especially since the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion, comprised of over 300 military and civilian personnel, is responsible for Army recruiting in all of New Jersey and the Philadelphia Metro area – a populous area even if over 1 million of its approximately 17,000 square miles are located in the Pinelands National Reserve. But there are significant challenges.
According to Halloran, “Only 29 percent of youth meet the physical and mental qualifications required for military service.” He added that the Army’s standards for enlistment will not change in view of the recruiting mission increase.
An army recruit must be between 17 (17-year-olds must have parental consent) and 35 years of age. He or she must be a U.S. citizen or be a permanent resident alien (a Green Card holder). Recruits must “be in good moral standing” – in other words, persons with a felony conviction will not be accepted, and persons with more minor criminal infractions must be awarded a “moral waiver.” A high school diploma, GED or the equivalent is required.
Here’s an interesting disqualifier in an era where tattoos and other body art are popular: “The Army,” reads the U.S. Army recruiting site goarmy.com, “requires that all tattoos be evaluated for size, location and decency. Readily visible tattoos or brands above the T-shirt neckline, on the wrists or hands are prohibited. Tattoos or brands that are extremist, indecent, sexist or racist are prohibited no matter what the location. Willful body mutilation, including, but not limited to scarification, tongue bifurcation or ear gauging greater than 1.6mm is prohibited.”
Indeed, kids today – and older adults – are doing weird things to their bodies. Other specific prohibited body mutilations include the “unnatural shaping of teeth,” ear pointing, sometimes called “elfing,” and “body modifications for the purpose of suspension” by body hooks.
Army recruits must also be in good physical condition. They will be given a physical fitness evaluation at a Military Entrance Process Station that includes hearing and vision exams, urine and blood tests, muscle group and joint maneuver evaluation, a complete physical exam including an interview concerning medical history and, if you are a woman, a pregnancy test. Two major stumbling blocks for many potential soldiers include meeting height and weight goals and passing drug and alcohol tests.
Some potential recruits can’t meet the Army’s height (5 feet to 6 feet-8 inches for males and between 4 feet-10 inches and 6 feet-8 inches for females) or weight requirements. If you are overweight you can still meet enlistment requirements by being below the specified body fat requirement for your height and age. Still, you’re not going to get in if you are a blimp. For example, the recommended upper weight for a 6-foot-2-inch, 18-year-old male is 211 pounds.
As for drugs, testing positive for even marijuana on the drug test disqualifies the potential soldier, a growing problem as pot use becomes legal in more and more states.
The Army, according to Halloran, has added $200 million in incentive bonuses, fully opened enlistment to persons with prior service and increased the number of two-year enlistment opportunities in an effort to meet its recruiting goals.
— Rick Mellerup