National Guard Recruiting Boom
WaPo fronts a report from Ann Scott Tyson that National Guard enlistments are up to record levels. The surprising reason?
A driving force in this year’s early success, Guard leaders say, is that thousands of Guard members have now returned from Iraq and are reaching out to friends, old classmates and co-workers — widening the face-to-face contacts that officials say are critical to recruiting. Guard members “are staying with us and want to fill up units with their neighbors and friends,” Blum said in an interview. “Now that they’re back — watch out.”
The prospect of serving in a violent Iraq is still part of the equation for potential recruits, and Army officials say more frequent deployments have hurt recruitment for the active-duty Army, which began suffering shortfalls last year. The Guard has tried to address that concern by establishing a rotation cycle of one year abroad for every five years at home, which lends more predictability to the commitment, recruiters and military analysts say.
“Fear of the unknown hurts people. We want to take away the fear,” said Maj. Kristine Wood, recruiting commander for West Virginia. Since 2004, the Guard has had nine brigades deployed in Iraq and elsewhere, but that will drop to two by year’s end, officials say.
So, the Guard is using soldiers just back from a war zone as their primary marketing tool. And it’s working.