View Full Version : Recruiters staying put

10-11-05, 06:57 PM
October 17, 2005
Recruiters staying put
Involuntary extension could last six months
By John Hoellwarth
Times staff writer

Marine recruiters expecting to rotate out of what is widely considered the toughest duty in the Corps will be held in place for up to six months under a proposal submitted to the commandant, officials with Marine Corps Recruiting Command confirmed Oct. 6.

Officials at MCRC and Marine Corps headquarters said that the roughly 345 canvassing recruiters affected by the involuntary extension were to be notified through their chain of command no later than Oct. 10.

One official said on Oct. 6 that commands would probably be working through the weekend to ensure that happens.

The nationwide initiative, aimed at growing the number of recruiters in the field, will affect Marines slated to end their recruiting tours between Dec. 1 and May 31. Each Marine’s extension is to last no longer than six months, and permanent change-of-station moves will resume in phases starting June 1, 2006, through Oct. 31, 2006, said Lt. Col. Dawn Harrison, MCRC’s personnel administration officer.

Some recruiters who already have orders to move between December and May will have them canceled or modified. Those who expect orders but don’t have them now “just won’t be getting them,” said Harrison, who preferred not to use words like “stop-move” or “involuntary.”

“Recruiter extension,” she said. “That’s what we’re calling it.”

By whatever name, several recruiters throughout the country told Marine Corps Times that it all felt the same to them when they first caught wind of the initiative, which began circulating through their recruiting stations in September. But for some canvassing recruiters, the rumors were more than just gossip, and the fact that the commandant hadn’t yet signed the proposal didn’t mean the policy wasn’t already in practice.

Earlier, when contacted by Marine Corps Times on Oct. 3, officials at MCRC said a comment about any involuntary extension would be “inappropriate” because it was still under the commandant’s review.

However, a Marine spokesman within Eastern Recruiting Region said, “It’s just not signed yet, but it got out that it’s going down, and it got out a long time before it was supposed to happen. Rumor has it that at the top they’re saying, ‘Let’s wait before we do this.’ We’re guessing commanders got word and sent out a heads-up that became an order.”

As early as Sept. 10, an MCRC staff officer sent a message that was forwarded to administration chiefs in multiple districts within the Eastern Recruiting Region. It specifically stated “stop move has been approved.” The message directed recruiting station commanders to identify their Marines affected by the involuntary extension and give them the opportunity to apply for exemption, which they were told would be reviewed by Manpower and Enlisted Assignments based on any undue hardship they might experience because of the policy.

One ERR recruiter, who has consistently exceeded his monthly contracting and shipping goals over the last three years, said his command’s administration section called him weeks ago to say he would be staying put, despite the PCS he had been planning for months.

“When you get orders to recruiting duty, you think it’s your death. Then, when you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, they pile rubble on top of you,” he said. “I’m so f------ fried, man. I got two days off last fiscal year, Christmas and New Year’s. They suck the life out of you. I’m only 27, and I’ve had an ulcer and irritable bowel syndrome since I came out here. It’s time for me to get my ass back to the fleet.”

Recruiters in the west said that, over the last month, their rumor mill gave them the idea that a stop-move was on its way but only for the Eastern Recruiting Region. Recruiters west of the Mississippi were talking about something they called “stopgap,” a policy that would only hold them at their station until their replacement was physically on deck.

“It’s a morale issue, so it’s kinda hush-hush,” a Western Recruiting Region Marine said. “I have to say I don’t get the whole secrecy-spin mission. Just come out and say you need to beef up the recruiting ranks, and this is how we’re doing it. Marines are making plans and if they find out through a secondary source or find out late, they’re going to be way more disgruntled than if the Corps had come out and said it.”

By Oct. 6, in response to Marine Corps Times’ queries, Recruiting Command confirmed what its Marines in the trenches already knew about the PCS hold.

Recruiting Command was approved to receive 425 more Marines in its ranks as part of the Force Structure Review Group, a massive reorganization of Corps assets OK’d earlier this year. But Harrison said it only needs 275 because they’ve received 150 Marines unofficially.

The right way to bolster Recruiting Command’s forces has been an issue that has bounced around between general officers for about a year now, she said.

According to Harrison, the recommendation involves two basic initiatives — to increase the number of Marines being sent through recruiter school and to keep current recruiters canvassing the country’s high schools and strip malls until after the new recruiters arrive.

Rick Spooner, the head of Marine Corps headquarters enlisted assignments, said usually manpower increases are done over a period of two or three years, but Recruiting Command’s authorization to significantly increase its end strength convinced policy-makers that an expedited measure was favorable.

Officials agree that the best way to bolster the recruiting force by extending personnel is to treat the initiative like a Band-Aid — pull it off as quickly as possible so that it only hurts for a little bit.

“We’re maximizing the throughput in the recruiter school. We’re trying to get classes as high as 250 Marines per class,” he said. “If we can push as many recruiters into the school as possible, within six months we should have [recruiting districts] up to their full strength.”

Spooner said the recruiter extension would have obvious long-term effects for the Corps, but that he could understand the position of recruiters who feel burdened.

“I can tell you troop morale and Marines’ careers are something we definitely considered,” Recruiting Command spokesman Maj. Wes Hayes said.

“We’ve looked at each Marine individually to determine if [extension] will cause undue hardship on families.”

Harrison said that, of the 345 Marines to be affected by the extension, only 10 have been approved for exemptions.

Spooner was quick to point out that there might be a silver lining for the remaining 335.

Not only does the extension’s timing put more recruiters than ever on the street during the year’s most scant recruiting months, but it also gives the Corps a chance to put the affected recruiters on a summer rotation cycle, meaning they will PCS at a time when they needn’t worry about pulling their children out of school.

Spooner said a lot of the affected Marines would have voluntarily requested extensions for this reason anyway.