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Chapter 5:


The Selected Reserve Recruiting Process

The recruiting process is similar for the Reserve and Active Components.[Footnote 2] With the exception of a number of Air National Guard (ANG) units, Reserve recruiters process their non-prior service (NPS) applicants through Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPSs), following procedures almost identical to the Active Components.

Recruiters describe the demands and opportunities of military service, and evaluate prospective recruits to determine eligibility for enlistment. The prospect is asked about his or her age, education, involvement with the law, use of drugs, and physical and medical factors that could preclude enlistment. The prospect may take an enlistment screening test. Non-prior service prospects take the ASVAB at either a local test site or at a MEPS. If an NPS applicant achieves qualifying ASVAB scores and wishes to continue the application process, he or she is scheduled for a physical examination and background review at a MEPS. If the applicant's education, ASVAB scores, physical fitness, and moral character qualify for enlistment, he or she meets with a Service classification counselor at a MEPS (or in some instances at a National Guard unit) to discuss options for enlistment.

Up to this point, the applicant has made no commitment. The counselor has the record of the applicant's qualifications and computerized information on available training/skill openings, schedules, and enlistment incentives. They discuss the applicant's interests. The counselor may offer bonuses to encourage the applicant to choose hard-to-fill occupational specialties. The applicant, however, is free to accept or reject the offer. Many applicants do not decide immediately, but take time to discuss options with family and friends. When the applicant accepts the offer, he or she signs an enlistment contract and is sworn into a Reserve Component.

One of the most critical factors in achieving Reserve readiness is the ability to meet Selected Reserve manpower requirements—in numbers, skills, and quality. More than half (53 percent in FY 2002) of Selected Reserve accessions have prior service experience, primarily from active duty. However, a sizable proportion of new recruits enter the National Guard or Reserve without previous military affiliation. Recruiting must target both populations. Success in meeting recruiting and retention goals varies significantly from unit to unit. First, there are substantial differences in unit size; larger units require greater effort. Second, National Guard and Reserve units differ significantly in skills required. Third, National Guard and Reserve units exist in thousands of localities, and each locality presents a unique set of labor market characteristics. The size of the community, distinct demographic and socioeconomic profiles, the mix of skills in the local civilian labor force and among recent veterans, local civilian wage levels and hours worked, frequency and duration of employment, employer attitudes regarding National Guard or Reserve duty, attitudes toward the military, effect of recent mobilizations on enlistment, and other secondary job opportunities create recruiting and retention challenges for Selected Reserve units.

The occupational distribution among the Active and Reserve Components varies (e.g., 6 percent of active Navy enlistees serve as craftsmen while 15 percent of Naval Reserve [USNR] members serve as craftsmen). Some units have to recruit more NPS individuals to fill unit vacancies. Another factor that can create large differences in manning success across skills is marketability, including civilian skill transferability, quality of training, equipment, and promotion opportunity.

The diversity of mission and force structure among the Reserve Components affects the demographic composition of units. For example, an Army National Guard or Reserve company with a combat mission may need a significantly higher proportion of young NPS accessions. Conversely, combat service support functions may require more experienced personnel and thus have greater proportions of prior service recruiting requirements. The population representation profiles of the Reserve Components are different from the Active Services due to a number of factors, such as the proportional distribution of individuals with particular skills, the location of units, and the proportion of members with prior service experience.

This chapter provides demographic characteristics and the distribution of FY 2002 enlisted accessions and the enlisted force of the Selected Reserve. Characteristics of Selected Reserve NPS accessions are described and, where applicable, are compared to prior service accessions. Characteristics and distribution of Selected Reserve officer accessions and the officer corps are contained in Chapter 6.

[Footnote 2]  For a description of NPS Selected Reserve recruiting, see Tan, H.W., Non-prior Service Reserve Enlistments: Supply Estimates and Forecasts (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1991). [back to paragraph]

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