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Improving economy, tighter budget among challenges facing recruiters

Sep. 26, 2013 - 11:17AM   |  
Commanding General makes first visit to Recruiting
U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis (2nd from left), Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, meets and greets, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Sub-Station Frederick, Md., U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kyle Thomas (far left), U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. William Campbell (second from right) and Recruiting Station Frederick Sgt. Maj., Sgt.Maj. William Sweeney at Recruiting Sub-Station Frederick Sep. 4, 2013 in Frederick, Md. Thomas and Brilakis discussed the intricacies of recruiting duty during the visit, which was Brilakis' initial tour around the area of operations as the new MCRC commanding general. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Amber Williams/Released) (Sgt. Amber Williams / U.S. Marines)
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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA. — Marine Corps recruiters will face two significant hurdles in the year ahead: an improving economy that offers recent high school and college graduates more options outside of military service and a loss of advertising dollars due to budget cuts.

Maj. Gen. Mark Brilakis, who took over at Marine Corps Recruiting Command in July, said he is ready to help recruiters confront their challenges. And as the former assistant deputy commandant for programs and resources, the entity at Marine Corps headquarters that oversees the service’s budget, Brilakis is set to figure out how to best make MCRC’s dollars count.

He met with Marine Corps Times here on Sept. 9. Excerpts from the interview, edited for space and clarity:

Q. How does the strength of the economy impact a recruiter’s job?

A. When the economy is challenged, the recruiting environment becomes easier because people are looking for an opportunity to work. When things are hard it normally hits the younger generation worst. We hope the economy does better because all Americans benefit. However, it makes things more challenging for the military recruiting force.

Q. Last year, MCRC held steady on recruiting numbers despite the drawdown. Are you still on track to recruit at the same levels you’ve seen in recent years?

A. When the Marine Corps began its reduction, we found that to be the case. In the next couple of years there’s a bit of uncertainty due to where we’re going to go or where the sequester will lead. Only about a quarter of the Marines we will initially enlist will stay in for a full career. Eventually, we’ll hit a point where, if we have a smaller end strength, we’ll have a smaller mission.

Q. How else are budget cuts and the sequester impacting the command?

A. There will be less for advertising, less for operations. When the dollars start to get a little bit tighter, some of your ability to innovate becomes a little more constrained. You have to go back and leverage the things that you know and the things you do well.

Q. MCRC added a requirement to have recruiters screened for behavioral health issues before sending them to school. Why was that important?

A. Recruiting duty is a pressurized duty. It requires Marines to be on top of their game, out in front of America.

Any Marine who may be having a challenge emotionally could be compromised by the duty. We don’t want to put a Marine in that kind of position. We’d rather pass on them this year, give them the opportunity to get well and engage them next year.

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