The number is 1,521 and the race is on.
That is the recruiting mission for the Wyoming Army National Guard to meet by October this year and time is short.
Each day the Guard is closing on that goal, with 1,515 accounted as of Sept. 21. But, work still has to be done to meet that end-strength, or total number of soldiers, and start the new year well.
Personnel in the Recruiting and Retention Battalion put together a campaign to help finish the year strong and get a jump start on 2017. In July the Operation 50 Stars Campaign, a statewide Army Guard program, started with the goal to get 50 accessions, or new recruits or state transfers, by year’s end.
It’s a multi-faceted campaign with the intent not to just help reach this year’s fiscal recruitment goal, but to position for long term growth and achievement as well.
“A lot has played into this campaign and the lead production,” said Command Sgt. Major Robert Butz, RRB command sergeant major. “The Guard is going back into the community and getting our name out there.”
New tactics introduced in the campaign have already shown positive impact and will see more use in the future.
“We’ve pushed the Lewis and Clarke Challenge out more, advertised the app, which has paid off leaps and bounds,” Butz said, referencing an on-going program that provides benefits to current serving Guard members who provide qualified leads and a smart-phone application that soldiers can use to send leads to recruiters respectively. “That’s prompted soldiers to show the app when talking to friends. It’s been a great way to track the leads but also help get the word out.”
Other tools include posters that look like thermometers at each unit that track units’ end strength and retention goals and kiosks that will go out to armories for leads to input information. All these efforts add up to help the mission. From email updates to screen savers on Guard network computers with the current end-strength number, the campaign is far-reaching.
“We set big goals, but only 70 days to execute,” Butz said. “This wasn’t just about lead production, but branding as well.”
The app for smart phones has helped engage the entire force in submitting leads to recruiters. After the lead is sent, it goes straight to Staff Sgt. Edwardo Herrera, the marketing non-commissioned officer for the RRB, who then forwards it to the recruiter responsible for the zip code in the information. It’s a quality producer of possible recruits, with approximately 140 leads produced by non-recruiter soldiers in 70 days, which is more than what was produced in the five months before July by the same group.
“You have to have a huge funnel,” Herrera said. “To find a qualified lead, you have to have numerous leads and the force has been great in helping find a morally, mentally and physically fit quality lead. I created the app as a tool for prospects but it didn’t have return on investment externally. But now it is used as an internal tool and been very effective.”
Lead production is only part of the recruiting process. The time invested in a quality lead can be extensive to get the person into the Guard, taking weeks to complete screening, waivers, paperwork and overcoming unforeseen obstacles.
“We may not see the fruits of this campaign now because of the late start of it,” Butz said. “But we are set up great for the future, this is a great warm start for the new fiscal year.”
The campaign and the app have helped stir other ideas for future campaigns. The efforts ongoing now have long-term effect.
“It’s been a successful campaign,” Butz said. “It’s opened eyes to processes that work and don’t work.”
With less than two weeks until the end of the fiscal year, the race, and group effort, to meet the mission continues.
For more information on joining the Wyoming Army National Guard, download the Wyoming Army National Guard app or call a local recruiting office.