By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel
This week, Rear Adm. Andrews and I recognized the best of the best in our recruiting commands at a ceremony here in D.C. To be selected for the honor of Recruiter of the Year is a sign of our faith in these Sailors and their abilities to lead, mentor and develop future generations of Sailors. As I prepared my remarks and reflected on what it meant to be a recruiter, I realized that the rest of us in our Navy now have a job to do – to keep faith with the hard work of more than 4,000 Navy recruiters around the globe working in some 1,500 recruiting stations. These are our shipmates whose job it is to bring in the best, brightest, service-minded individuals America has. Recruiters work day and night, many on weekends to identify these individuals, educate them about our Navy and invite them to volunteer. They successfully recruit between 33,000 and 40,000 individuals each year.
The measure of their success goes well beyond the numbers, the metrics and the PowerPoint slides. In fact, a recruiter’s true value may not be realized for months or years after they leave the job. If they’ve done well, the recruits they bring into our Navy are transformed into Sailors, learn important skills and join the Fleet ready to serve.
The vast majority of new recruits do just that, and I saw it first-hand addressing several thousand A-schoolers at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola. Even with only a few months of time in the Navy and no salt on their boots, these young men and women were extremely proud to call themselves Sailors. They were motivated, asking thoughtful questions that demonstrated that they couldn’t wait to graduate and get to the Fleet. Not only do we owe recruiters a debt of gratitude, we owe them our commitment to maintain the covenant we all have with these new members of the Navy family that they worked so hard to bring in the Navy.
The challenge is ours; to keep these new Sailors motivated and engaged, and to help retain the very best and brightest of the nation’s best and brightest. We have all heard the saying – it’s not technology or tools but people who make our Navy the world’s finest. We have the opportunity each and every day to make that a reality.
We don’t give out a “Retainer of the Year” award, but if did, we would be looking for an E-5 or E-6 that sets the example for the work center by being technically proficient, committed to the needs of his or her people, and someone that looks for opportunities to mentor and grow the talent of junior Sailors. We would look for chief petty officers who know their folks, understand Sailor work and life goals and provides advice and opportunities to achieve both.
Retention is an issue that often comes up during all hands calls or chats with small groups of Sailors. In Jacksonville, Mayport and Kings Bay two weeks ago, Sailors shared their pride and their frustrations in some pretty frank discussions about the reality of today’s fiscal and security environment. Their feedback inspired me to come back to D.C. and ask some tough questions about how we’ve done business for a long time, with no apparent reason – just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Mostly there was frustration about the advancement process and opportunities in various rates – as you’ve seen in other blogs we are taking this feedback and the feedback we get on the road, face to face seriously. In the end, it is my job to advance the best, most qualified and motivated Sailors and we have to make a concerted effort to keep Sailors with the important skill sets and leadership qualities our Navy needs in order to continue to be technologically relevant and operationally capable now and in the future.
Keeping this talent doesn’t happen by accident – often times there are opportunities in the private sector, many have family commitments or other interests that compete with continued service. If we want the best to stay, then we need to go after them with the same passion and drive that our recruiters have for the incredible work they do.
Fleet Beldo and my team here in N1 will continue to explore every avenue, adjust where we can and quickly where we must. Keep your feedback coming. Share what works for you, stories of why you decided to Stay Navy or anecdotes of good leaders and mentors that helped with your decision.
Proud to serve with you.