ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps will add recruiters to its ranks over the next two years as those tasked with selling service in the Corps face an increasingly tough mission, according to Marine officials.
The plan will formalize unofficial increases to the recruiting ranks over the past few years, said Recruiting Command spokesman Maj. Dave Griesmer.
Officially, the recruiting rolls will go from 3,008 to 3,433 recruiters, he said. But at any given time over the past five years, the actual numbers of recruiters has been closer to 3,300.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a drain on the field. Assignments managers in the Corps have had to put orders for recruiting duty for many Marines on hold as their units have gotten orders for combat duty. But Griesmer said the recruiting rolls still are above 3,150 even with that manpower drain.
“This is more of a reshuffling than a big influx of recruiters,” said Griesmer. “It’s something we’ve been planning for about a year now.”
Still, the influx comes as the Corps is struggling with meeting its recruiting goals.
“What the recruiters are telling us is that they have to spend more time with the parents,” Marine Corps commandant Gen. Michael Hagee told reporters last week. “Parents have influence, and rightly so, on the decision these young men and woman are going to make.
“[Parents are] saying, ‘It’s not maybe a bad idea to join the Marine Corps, but why don’t you consider it a year from now, or two years from now. Let’s think about this.’”
In January, recruiters — for the first time in years — failed to meet their internal goals for signed new contracts, Griesmer said, missing the mark by 2 percent, or 84 of the 3,270 volunteers they’d hoped to sign up.
The Marines caution against reading too much into the statistic, as a monthly goal can itself be changed, and is affected by retention, retirements and a host of other factors.
And recruiters exceeded the goal for enlistees that actually shipped out to basic training by roughly same amount.
New recruits can ship out up to one year after signing their enlistment contract.
“It’s tough out there. People are joining during dangerous times,” said Griesmer. “Parents are understandably advising caution. But for every potential recruit that is concerned, there also many who come running in because of the danger and sense of duty.”
The influx also comes as the Marine Corps looks to increase its overall active-duty rosters from 175,000 to 178,000 this year.
“That’s not a direct reason why we’re doing this, but it certainly contributes,” said Griesmer.