Sailors, airmen saying no thanks to Army offer
June 29, 2005
WASHINGTON — Only 375 airmen or sailors have so far transferred to the Army under the Blue to Green program, more than 3,000 soldiers short of what Army officials had hoped for.
Since the program was launched last July, another 750 recently retired airmen and sailors also were enticed to enlist because of the program, which shortens training time, according to Lt. Col Roy Steed, branch chief of the Army’s recruiting policy and plans.
But even with those prior-service recruits, the program’s enrollment is still well short of the 3,400 transfers Army officials had projected they could place in open slots this year.
Steed said the 3,400 figure was never a set goal for the Army, only that Blue to Green was set up to handle that many transfers.
As of mid-June, 169 airmen and 206 sailors had so far directly transferred to the Army under the program. Steed said 225 of them already are in training classes.
Under the program, servicemembers within 90 days of separation from the military can skip the Army’s nine-week boot camp in lieu of the new Warrior Transition Course, a four-week session on the difference between Army life and that of the other services.
“They’re big fans of the four-week course,” Steed said. “Many said they wouldn’t be considering re-enlisting if it meant another nine weeks.”
The Blue to Green program also allows airmen and sailors to potentially keep their current rank, and offers several bonuses for certain specialties or accelerated transfers.
Earlier this month, Army officials announced they had missed their recruiting goal for May, the fourth straight month they had come up short. For the year, the service is more than 8,500 short of its recruiting goal.
Meanwhile, the Air Force and Navy are trying to reduce their active duty end strength.
At the start of June, the Navy had about 363,600 sailors, nearly 11,000 more than ordered by Congress for fiscal 2006. The Air Force was 7,000 airmen over its limit in February but has since brought that number down to 353,771, about 4,000 below its 2006 limit.
Navy and Air Force officials said they had no set goals for the program. Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens said officials there are pleased with the number of transfers, noting it was more than they had expected.
Steed said he also is pleased with the program so far.
“These [new soldiers] want to continue to serve,” he said. “I’m getting calls from folks who couldn’t come back to their service, or who wanted to get involved in what the Army is doing, or who wanted a different MOS but couldn’t get that training in their service.
“There’s a lot of trained manpower out there already.”
Steed said officials plan on increasing recruiting efforts among both recently retired servicemembers and current airmen and sailors in the coming year.