In November, the US Army gifted an early, unexpected Christmas present for eight hundred noncommissioned officers. Because the Army bureaucracy had underestimated graduation rates from the Army’s recruiting school, these NCOs would be sent for eight weeks to Fort Knox, some within a week of receiving notification. After graduating, they would then have to uproot their families in the middle of a school year, have their spouses quit their jobs, and move to a possibly remote location to help solve the Army’s recruiting crisis.
Before sending these NCOs their orders, the Army did not verify with them if it made sense for their families, their career ambitions, or their current units of assignment. The bureaucrats who decided to upend these NCOs’ lives did not know if the NCOs were ideal candidates to be recruiters. Instead, they provided hundreds of NCOs a new reason to be cynical about the Army’s personnel policies and sent them into American society to sell the Army.
The Army’s impersonal, centralized personnel system not only hindered recruiting efforts, it also likely led to many of these NCOs considering leaving the Army. This story is an example of the Army asking the wrong question in its recruiting crisis. Instead of asking how it can increase recruiting, the Army should be asking how it can retain soldiers so that it does not need to churn through so many recruits.