MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Making Marines and winning battles is what the Marine Corps does best. Civilians enter the Marine Corps and when they emerge 13 weeks later, they are lean, mean, determined and ready to take on any challenge the Marine Corps can offers.
Boot camp is the second step in making Marines. The first step is finding eligible people interested in serving as Marines, enlisting them in the Corps and getting them a date to depart for boot camp. That is the mission of the Marine recruiter.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones and the commandant before him, Gen. Charles C. Krulak, referred to recruiting as one of the hardest jobs in the Marines Corps, but also one of the most important.
Being a recruiter is difficult. It requires long hours of canvassing areas to find prospective Marines.
Once they are located, they must undergo many tests and evaluations.
Recruiting is the front line in the sustainment of the Marine Corps forces in readiness, and Marine recruiters are more successful at it than any other armed service in the United States.
For the past 57 months the Marine Corps has successfully recruited the targeted number of new Marines set by personnel at Headquarters Marine Corps.
During a time of the highest national economic prosperity in the past 30 years, when jobs in the civilian sector are paying better with fewer demands on the individual than military service, the Marine Corps is still constantly meeting its recruiting goals.
During this same time the other armed services have repeatedly had trouble meeting their recruiting goals, which does not mean recruiting is easier for Marines than it is for the other services.
It just means the Marine recruiters are more dedicated to accomplishing their mission.
When an individual decides he wants to be a Marine, he still faces a long approval process. The enlistee must select three acceptable occupational fields, one of which will become his occupation.
He must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery examination, which will determine how technically demanding an occupation he qualifies for.
The enlistee must also pass a thorough physical examination, which includes eye and ear tests, a medical history check, blood tests and a battery of other exams.
Not passing the physical exam or failing the ASVAB test means the individual does not meet the qualifications to become a Marine.
If the enlistee does not depart for basic training right away, he must also attend Delayed Entry Program functions once a month to make certain he continues to meet all the required standards and to conduct training in preparation for boot camp.
The recruiting station in Albany has a staff of four recruiters and one staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the its operations. According to Staff Sgt. Suzy Quinn, recruiter and former military policeman at MCLB Albany, the Albany station is required to enlist an average of 12 new Marines per month.
Its not as tough as it sounds, said Quinn. We break it down to weekly missions and take it from there. It averages out to three [enlistees] per week. It (recruiting success) also depends on the time of year. Ive been doing this for about a year now, and some months are pretty easy, but some months you are really stressing [over meeting the goal].
According to Quinn, recruiting requires confidence, selling skills and a belief in the product the Marine Corps. The most time consuming part of recruiting is the commuting, according to Quinn.
It requires a lot of driving, said Quinn. Prospective Marines are tested and screened in Jacksonville, Fla., and the recruiting area for the Albany station includes most of southwest Georgia.
Driving is required, no matter where you go, said Quinn. Thats not the hardest part. The hardest part is keeping them in [the DEP] and qualified once theyre signed up.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Kelvin Edwards, NCOIC of the recruiting station in Albany, the greatest challenge recruiters face is the negative influences of peers and friends when someone has decided to join the Marines.
When someone decides to join the Marines and they have a while to go before they leave for basic training people ask them, Why did you sign up for the Marines? said Edwards. People make comments, and sometimes the person begins to second guess themselves about whether joining the Marines is the right decision or not.
According to Quinn, time can be a problem for recruiters also.
Poolees (enlistees who have a date to leave for boot camp) can remain in the DEP for up to a year, said Quinn. They are committed to leaving for boot camp, but that is a long time to keep a 17- or 18-year old kid from changing his mind.
We just try to keep them motivated. I try to contact all of my poolees at least once a week just to make sure they are doing okay, dont have any questions, and to keep their confidence up that they are making the right decision.