Support our mission

WüRZBURG, Germany — As the Army’s transformation in Europe plays out this year, sending thousands of soldiers and families members back to the United States and elsewhere, the effects of the downsizing are being felt at local recruiting offices as well.

The dynamics of recruiting in Europe are changing. More people with prior military service are walking through the door, and high school-age recruits are not being as actively recruited due to the uncertain destinations of their communities and military parents.

Some Americans who got out of the Army and built a life in Germany want to stay, but their civilian employment with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or Defense Department contractors will be ending as bases close and units consolidate this year, said 1st Sgt. David Ralston, commander for the U.S. Army Recruiting Detachment in Europe.

As a result, they’re looking to the Army as a way to keep their families in Europe, he said.

“The market is changing over here,” Ralston said. “And we’re getting a lot of those guys.”

During the first quarter of this recruitment year, roughly from September to mid-January, those recruits with prior service constituted roughly 10 percent more of the overall recruitment total than at the same time last year, he said.

So far this year, 27 out of 54 have already served in the military.

While the exact numbers of U.S. civilian and local national jobs that will be terminated with transformation efforts this year have not been disclosed, U.S. Army Europe and AAFES representatives have stressed that relocation is a priority for employees whenever possible.

As head of the recruiting station in Würzburg — where much of the 1st Infantry Division is slated to head back to the States or be reassigned this year and installations are getting ready to close — Sgt. 1st Class Robert Curtis is dealing with a direct front of the Army’s downsizing.

Recruiters make an effort to accede to the desires of prior service enlistees to stay in Europe, he said, but things such as former rank, training and the needs of the Army play a factor in deciding where they go.

“A lot of them are requesting to be stationed here, but that’s difficult for us to do,” he said.

To lure back those with a history of Army service, recruiters now offer prior service enlistment bonuses and education assistance for people who are thinking of reenlisting, Ralston said.

Curtis said he expects to see more prior service people walk through his front door in the coming months, as the Army’s plans continue to take shape.

In January, all his enlistees had prior service.

“I foresee this continuing,” he said.

The looming closure of bases and the reduction of Army boots in Europe also means recruiters are now “passively recruiting” high school seniors instead of pursuing them more actively, Curtis said.

When parents have orders back to the States or elsewhere, it is often too difficult for a recruiter to keep track of a young recruit and make sure they follow through on their commitments, he said.

“With the downsizing in Europe, especially with the 1st ID, it has deterred us from actively recruiting for them,” Curtis said. “It was a good market for us.”


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up