Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 100

DOD manages some policy decisions but delegates most to the services. In difficult recruiting environments, or when trying to grow the enlisted ranks’ numbers for a specific purpose, DOD modifies policy to ease quality requirements within the limits of the law. When the recruiting environment improves or when the force needs to get smaller, DOD tightens quality standards to slow or constrain enlistment within fiscal requirements. The services then shape their enlisted forces with appropriate training and assignment depending on talent requirements to accomplish their service-specific roles, missions, and functions. In the past, when faced with downturns in recruiting, DOD simply adjusted accession policy toward the legally lowest-quality standards. If those steps proved insufficient, the Pentagon requested increased funding for recruiting incentives. Such policies worked well in an environment of robust personnel interest and availability in the population pool. However, circumstances have dramatically changed. A deeper examination of the environment indicates that in 2015 and beyond, no combination of policy-loosening measures or incentive increases will solve the longer-term, systemic problems in acquiring talent the military requires because the talent pool is decreasing while the competition for recruiting talent from the private sector is increasing due to perceptions of better benefits and opportunities.8 The military, and the Army in particular, will be hard pressed to keep up. The Army does not have the capability to expand the quality of the talent pool, nor does it have the resources to sufficiently compete for the remaining talent by offering competitive incentives. The Emerging Quantity and Quality Problem The challenge for the services today and in the future is how to maintain the balance between quantity and quality in an era when both appear to be decreasing in the available manpower pool. The traditional course in a tough recruiting environment has been to recruit to the minimum DOD policy standards. This provided the best opportunity to meet the quantity the services required under the assumption that what was lacking in quality could be overcome by additional training. It was recognized that such a policy did put the quality of the force at increased, albeit what was deemed acceptable, risk. Of the services, the Army traditionally has been the most challenged in managing such quantity-quality tension because it is the largest service. Today, as its end strength is being drawn down, the Army is struggling to enlist the level of talent it needs under current policy management guidance. Additionally, in a logical but unanticipated turn, the Army is increasing its quality requirements for new recruits in order to grow advanced specialties such as special operations and cyber forces, among others, that demand high-quality recruits with the ability to learn complex skills. By requiring future soldiers to have enhanced mental and physical capabilities as well as to “demonstrate strong moral, ethical, and spiritual beliefs,” the Army is seeking even better talent from a pool already straining to meet today’s quality demands.9 While the Army has yet to define these new capabilities and develop the tools to assess them, the Army’s recruiting assumption is clear: to win in the complex future environment, (Photo by Jasmine Chopra-Delgadillo, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) today’s quality standards are insufficient Sgt. Koutodjo Ayivi, a prime power production specialist and contracting officer's technical representative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 249th Engineer Battalion, points to for tomorrow’s Army. Therefore, the Army electrical equipment 10 August 2013 at the Bagh-E Pol power plant in Kandahar, Afghanfaces a predicament. To succeed in future istan. The Army faces stiff competition from colleges, other military services, and civilian employers for recruits with the potential to learn complex skills like those of Ayivi. conflicts, it requires higher-quality recruits. 94 November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW