Recruiting high quality candidates into the military is not always an easy thing. During war time, these people almost fall on the laps of recruiters making their jobs a walk in the park. People liked the idea of being able to go to war. During peace time though, the civilian market is much more desirable to the potential recruit leading to a difficult time for recruiters.
One way that our government has tried to fix this problem in the past is through better education benefits. College is often expensive, and entering into a lucrative career in the civilian world can be impossible without a college degree. This is where the military has tried to step in in the past. The National Defense Research Initiative describes some of these plans in its publication Attracting College-Bound Youth Into the Military: Toward the Development of New Recruiting Policy Options.
For the purposes of my project, I will focus only on chapter 5 of the publication, “Designing Policy Options to Attract College-Bound Youth: Issues and Examples.” The NDRI begins by detailing a number of challenges that recruiters currently face including an increasingly competitive civilian job market for college graduates, a decline in interest in the military, and a relatively small return from military college-benefit programs. The biggest issue the military faces is in redesigning these programs so that the military is on par with the civilian world in terms of allure. One option the NDRI deems possible is not only the expansion of existing educational programs, but the adoption of entirely new programs.
The Montgomery GI Bill is one such educational program currently in use. While it gives incentives for people to enlist, it fails to raise the educational benefit for the military. In other words, it gets people to enlist, but it doesn’t help to keep those that it educates in the military leaving a lack of higher educated individuals among the military’s ranks. A new program the NDRI suggests will “Offer educational benefits concurrently with service prior to enlistment [and] would have the potential to have this [productivity gain] return to the military” (35). The publication then goes on to describe the many different methods they could use to entice recruits. The basic guideline they use consists of paying for recruits to receive an education in return for military service.
The basic idea that the NDRI is suggesting is that those who are on the fence about joining the military need greater incentive to join the military. Higher education benefits seem to be the focus of many potential recruits and this is an area where the government should increase funding.
One limitation my source has is when it was published. It was originally published in 1999 when our nation’s attitude towards the military was likely different than it is now. It had been about 8 years since our last major conflict. Even then, Operation Desert Storm was not even a year long. I would like to focus more on recruiting directly after a long drawn out and controversial war like what we have seen recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would like to find evidence from a source published sometime after the Vietnam war reflecting the political climate of that era.
Overall, I feel that Attracting College-Bound Youth Into the Military: Toward the Development of New Recruiting Policy Options will be a useful source and lead me in the direction that other sources will as well.