Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 105

ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE Second, among those one million eighteen-year-olds qualified to serve but unwilling (top left), policy makers must devise means for incentivizing such service by aligning the desires of the unwilling with national interests, of which a high quality military is one. Third, steps must be taken to qualify those willing to serve but who today cannot fully qualify (bottom right). To enhance the process, the military must develop more refined methodologies for a talent-spotting and vetting process, akin to what Special Forces employ to identify and select their talent today. For example, the Junior Officer Reserve Corps programs provide both a history and a mechanism that could help such an effort. Fourth, and finally, the military should employ its legacy tools for continuing to pursue and attract the already high-quality, highly motivated young people the Nation seeks today (top right). Though many of such talented young men and women want to serve in the military, they still need to be actively recruited, or many will be enticed by agents of other organizations who put forth the interest and effort to recruit them. An approach that proceeds along these four lines of effort can arrest and then reverse the drift toward fewer and fewer qualified and willing young men and women by expanding the pool of those qualified and willing to serve the Nation, both in military and civilian capacities. In doing so, the AVF’s enlisted talent requirements are more likely to receive long-term, sustainable support from both society and the military, as well as political leaders. More detailed proposals with development of appropriate ways and means along these four lines of effort are still needed. Due to space limitations, this article has only identified the challenges and suggested starting points for broader and deeper analysis leading to a redesign of the AVF. Conclusion Divergent military, societal, and political forces risk the AVF’s future viability. Although America likes its volunteer force, the military is attempting to drive it to higher quality through recruitment even as society is showing it will not sustain the military’s steady call for volunteers. To be sure, many dedicated and experienced leaders in DOD, Congress, and across society have and will continue to support the AVF. But few are aware of, or acknowledge, the degree and power of current tensions on the AVF’s foundational structures. The DOD commitment to conduct a holistic review of the AVF is a necessary start. However, national inattention thus far to recruitment of enlisted talent risks reliance on quick fixes without addressing the fundamental issues. Further analysis must integrate the relationships among the military, the government, and the society, with special focus on fiscal issues such as pay and compensation. U.S. political leaders are charged with managing these tensions and forging practical solutions. In developing a more long-term approach to the AVF’s enlisted talent acquisition, future efforts must be acceptable to key stakeholders. They must assign responsibility, propose objectives, and develop basic assessment tools to monitor the AVF’s viability and account for changes in the broad system. Redesigning the future AVF must begin at the beginning: with the young men and women who join the ranks. All those involved with DOD talent acquisition effort must pitch in: military, societal, and political leaders. The call for a redesign of America’s AVF is timely; the very life of today’s high-quality force is at stake. Time, however, is not our ally. Our nation needs a concerted, whole-of-nation approach to successfully complete a reform of the AVF. The solution must account for the pervasive problems, especially with enlisted talent acquisition, without killing what makes the military so venerated and potent today. Those undertaking this task should gain encouragement in this: Americans can agree they want their all-volunteer force, and they want it healthy and good and strong for the long haul. For the force’s redesign, this is a solid foundation. Col. Michael Runey, U.S. Army, is the director of the Security Force Assistance Center (CJ-35) in Headquarters Resolute Support (NATO) in Kabul, Afghanistan. He educated cadets in military history at the U.S. Military Academy, served as professor of military science at Pennsylvania State University, and served on the commander’s initiatives group at U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Experience gained in raising and educating the all-volunteer force served as the catalyst for his research at the Army War College. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 99