Raleigh Recruiting Battalion welcomes new leader to take on growing mission
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: July 13, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The Raleigh Recruiting Battalion covers 76 of the state’s 100 counties.
Its soldiers and civilians recruit over more than 40,000 square miles, covering an area that stretches from Charlotte to the coast, with the battalion headquarters in the state capital.
But when the unit changed leaders on Wednesday morning, it chose to do so in Fayetteville.
That decision was more than just a matter of convenience for Army leaders. The outgoing commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Edward C. “Ted” Hudson III, said Fayetteville – in the shadows of the nation’s largest military installation – is an important part of the Army’s recruiting efforts.
“There is nowhere else in the Army like here,” Hudson said. “This was the right place to have it.”
At the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Hudson relinquished command of the battalion to Lt. Col. Daniel D. Mitchell.
Mitchell, who last served at the Pentagon as a joint operations officer in the Joint Staff Deputy Directorate for Special Operations and Counterterrorism, said Hudson handed him the reins of a “championship team.”
In the past two years, the battalion has ushered more than 6,000 new recruits into the Army, officials said.
“What you have done here is nothing short of amazing,” said Mitchell, who promised to maintain the high standards that Hudson set and said he would turn the battalion “into a dynasty.”
The Raleigh Recruiting Battalion is one of the most successful recruiting battalions in the Army. While the same size as every other recruiting battalion, it routinely brings three times the number of recruits into the Army each year compared with many of its peers, Hudson said.
The battalion oversees recruiting companies in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. But Fayetteville, outside of Fort Bragg, has long been the battalion’s busiest company.
Hudson said the Raleigh Recruiting Battalion is one of the best recruiting outfits in the nation. And recruiters in Fayetteville have the largest share of that mission and the largest expectations.
Based on population density, the qualifications of recruits and the percent who join the Army, he said Fayetteville stands alone as a community.
“This is a great place to recruit,” he said. “What this area contributes – you would be hard pressed to find an area that has sacrificed more and given more.”
“It’s not only what goes on at Fort Bragg,” Hudson said. “This is an amazing community.”
But Mitchell said the battalion will have to work hard around the state, not just in Fayetteville, if it is to keep pace with efforts to grow the Army.
“The next two years will test me and this unit,” he said. “As our Army increases its end strength, North Carolina will be asked to provide a disproportionate number of qualified men and women.”
The state is already one of the top contributors of new recruits, Mitchell said. It’s one of seven states that provide half of all new soldiers.
“We will be busy,” he said. “We’ll be looking for a lot of quality young men and women.”
Col. Patrick R. Michaelis oversaw the change of command. He leads the battalion’s higher headquarters, the 2nd Recruiting Brigade based at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Michaelis thanked Hudson and welcomed Mitchell to the battalion.
He said the recruiting mission is not an easy one, and its value to the nation cannot be overstated.
“Our nation today requires young men and women to step forward into the breach,” he said. “Our strength comes from those who step forward and volunteer.”
The Army’s superiority is tied to its ability to adapt quickly, Michaelis said. And recruiting is no different.
With cyber joining the battlefields of land, sea, air and space, the colonel said the Army needs quality recruits with the needed physical, mental and moral qualifications.
That’s easier said than done.
Mitchell said just three of 10 potential recruits qualify to serve in the Army.
His recruiters will need to show the value service in the Army can provide, with education benefits, job skill training and other opportunities.
“Our recruiters offer pathways for success,” Mitchell said. “They are changing people’s lives.”
Hudson had commanded the battalion for the past two years. Before that, he spent much of his 27-year Army career in Special Forces, serving with the 3rd Special Forces Group.
Mitchell also comes from a Green Beret background. After training at Fort Bragg in 2004 and 2005, he has served mostly with the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Both men said the skills required of Special Forces soldiers translate well to the recruiting world.
“The Special Forces community is known for working with local partners,” Mitchell said.
Those partners, including business, academic and community leaders, are important allies to recruiters, Hudson said.
“It’s all about building relationships,” he said. “It’s about being able to tell the Army story.”
Hudson said recruiters are the Army’s ambassadors. And their role is even more important as the number of veterans continues to decline.
In many communities, they are the only local link to the force, he said.
“Forty-five miles outside of here is a different world, but it needs to hear that Army story,” Hudson said.
Military editor Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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