MCRC commanding general discusses diversity, retention

8 Apr 2009 | Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class William Selby

The Marine Corps is focused on developing young men and women and diversifying the Corps in the upcoming fiscal year, the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command said.

“They want some excitement. They want to serve their nation, and they want to be a Marine,” Maj. Gen. Robert Milstead told bloggers and online journalists during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable March 31.

Milstead said it’s not all about popping caps and kicking in doors. “It’s about being a Marine. It’s about the way people look at you. It’s about wearing the uniform. I’ve been at this for 34 years and the Marines are a part of my life,” he said.

The Marines have raised certain standards and changed some rules, but that hasn’t necessarily hurt recruiting, Milstead said.

“We’re seeing historic lows on our recruit depot attritions,” he said. “That’s due to the fact that these kids are a higher quality and that they’re in the pool a little longer.”

Milstead explained that last year, 97 percent of the recruits that came in were high school graduates, which has allowed the Marine Corps to be more selective, but they still want the “Category 4s,” which are the people who scored in the bottom quarter of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

“I’ll take those Cat 4 guys any day, because for us to enlist them, they have to be a Tier 1, meaning they have to be a high school graduate,” Milstead explained. “And that means they’re stickers, and they make good Marines.”

The Marines also have recently implemented new policy that affects Marines who have tattoos and plan to enlist or re-enlist, Milstead said.

“A kid that has a tattoo and wants to re-enlist, as long as he’s grandfathered, that tattoo does not come into play,” he said. “What they can’t do is put in for an officer program, for instance, if they have a full or half sleeve.”

Milstead added that people interested in enlisting can’t have half or full sleeves and must not have anything inappropriate tattooed on them.

For the Marines, diversity has and will continue to be an area that Milstead said he feels needs improvement.

“We’re struggling to raise diversity because we don’t feel that it currently reflects the fabric of our nation,” he said. “We have hired a diversity officer; believe that diversity needs to be a part of everything you do.”

In addition to new rules and policies that concern recruiting, Milstead said Marine recruiters also have started to use new technologies for recruiting.

“We recognize the change in the dynamics of media,” he said. “We’ve got electronic EPPC now, to where somebody can hit the computer and in hours, we know who this kid is and that he’s interested in the Marine Corps, and we’re calling him.”

“We make them one promise, one promise only: that they’ll be a United States Marine,” Milstead said.

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