New US Army Reserve Chief on Retention
As a military becomes more professional, and the level of skill required to be a soldier rises, the issue of retention becomes extremely important to a military’s force structure and effectiveness. In the midst of a war, retaining soldiers who have experienced the lessons of combat becomes even more critical. Hence the significant bonuses offered to US soldiers who re-enlist. The US Army has done extremely well on the re-enlistment front, but the financial commitment involved is substantial – and so are the stakes. Could the Army do better?
As an operations manager for Procter and Gamble, Jack Stultz was responsible for recruitment, training, and retention. Now that the veteran of operations in Iraq, Panama, and Afghanistan is on a 4-year leave of absence as US Army Reserve Chief, Lt. Gen. Stultz is bringing some new thinking from his corporate job to the issue of troop retention. Stultz notes the importance of more predictability and reasonable deployment expectations per rotation, but he also adds concepts like taking a life-cycle approach. “At Proctor and Gamble, when you talked to an employee you were trying to retain, you looked at where they were in their life. And the same thing really does apply when you think about retaining a soldier.” His efforts could lead to better-tailored retention packages and changes to the way the Army Reserve operates on several fronts, from health-care benefits (currently a major future expense issue), to a different structure for retention bonuses, to changes in the retirement system. The DefenseLINK article “Army Reserve Chief Applies Business Lessons to Military Force” offers more details.
The Army is also implementing many of Maj. Vandergriff’s reforms [2003 summary | 2004 progress report | AEI 2005 panel – The Future of the US Army | 2004 HASC PPT briefing – PDF | Book – The Path to Victory: America’s Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs] which should help as well.