Although cutbacks in the nation’s military services will be an issue that will have to be considered by officers and enlisted personnel alike, recruiting new members will still be a part of the government’s responsibility. Whichever branch, whichever service, full-time or part-time, the beat goes on.
One of the leaders recruiting for the Army National Guard in Southern Nevada is Master Sgt. Junior Krows, who is in charge of two recruiting offices on the east side of town (there are two additional offices on the west side). Krows, originally from Oklahoma, said there are almost 3,200 men and women who are Guard members in Nevada. Those who enlist have varied reasons for doing so, in addition to not wanting to give up civilian life completely. Krows said “28 percent join to serve their country, the rest join for other reasons.” The reasons may be training and education, financial or “just for the adventure.” But the days of walking down to the recruiter’s office and merely signing on the bottom line have long been over. The qualifications are not insurmountable, but they are stiff.
“The National Guard is not for everybody,” Krows said. “We are not an equal opportunity employer” when it comes to the hiring process. “The fact is, you have to pass a test, be proficient in math and English and pass a physical. We’d love to have everyone join the National Guard, but they can’t have (major health problems).” That’s especially true in the event that they are deployed to a combat zone. “They would be a hindrance to accomplishing their mission,” Krows said.
Once accepted into the Guard, members are required to attend basic combat training for 10 weeks and then advanced individual training. Depending on the job skill assigned to a member, the advanced training can take six weeks to a year. Once training is completed, Guardsmen serve one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer, but they are subject to being called up and deployed at any time. While in Nevada, the Guard is under the command of the governor, but in times of emergency, the Guard falls under the direction of the president.
When it comes to signing up new personnel, Krows said, “Every year presents a new challenge. Six years ago when we had a big influx with big bonuses, we had a lot of members join. Now, six years later, they are ready to move on with their personal lives, so that’s a challenge we have this year. Another challenge is a reduction in force. And the entrance-level test scores have been raised. Recruits have to be in the upper-middle category to enlist in the Guard.”
Krows said that in Southern Nevada the local offices have been able to sign up about 450 individuals each year. “We replace those who retire, who fulfilled their contractual obligations and then leave,” he said. “So we have to maintain levels of strength that we have and project how many we will lose over the next year.”
There are two eight-year programs new members can choose to embrace. In one scenario they serve three years, then five years in the Inactive Ready Reserve. A second option is serving six years, then two years inactive. At the point that members are a year away from the end of their contractual obligations, “We start talking about career opportunities in the Guard,” Krows said. “It costs a significant amount to train personnel. So it’s our intent to keep them in so they can pass on their individual knowledge. They can extend their enlistments from two to six years.”
At each point during the end of their contracts, they are contacted again and asked to re-enlist. After serving for 20 years as a part-time Guard members, soldiers are eligible for a pension. But they cannot begin to collect until they reach age 65. However, about 10 percent of the local National Guard force serves on active duty (such as Krows, for example) and can apply for full pension benefits after 20 years, irrespective of their ages.
Krows has been in the military — a combination of part-time and full-time — for 26½ years. In the early days, he said, “I was a wireman, in field artillery, land line and radio support. I also was a truck driver.” For a while he left the military and was a salesman for a welding supply company in Northern Nevada. He joined the National Guard, and in 2004, “at the height of the (Middle East) war they needed recruiters, and I was a professional salesman, so they asked me to come on board.” Even before his service, Krows was exposed to the military. As a youngster he was an Army brat and traveled with his Army father.
Krows and his fellow recruiters use various methods to approach new members. “We go face-to-face, telephone prospecting with a referral system and through community outreach.” His main target is 17- to 25-year-olds with non-prior service.
If recruits have four-year degrees, they can consider applying to Officer Candidate School (OCS) after basic training. If they do not have degrees, they can opt to attend college through the Guard.
“Most of our personnel go enlisted, but we are able in Nevada to waive tuition for CSN, Nevada State, Western Nevada University, UNR and UNLV, so we are actually a training environment of future leaders,” he said.
Once they obtain degrees, recruits can apply for OCS. While in school they must maintain a “C” or above grade average or they will be billed for tuition. While all prospects are welcome to apply for the Guard, Krows points out that “diversity is one of the paramount things we are looking for in recruiting.”
With potential budget cuts Krows anticipates that there will be less travel for his soldiers than in the past. “We can’t move units to other states to train,” he said. “We have to evaluate processes and make them work more efficiently. We did it after Vietnam, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We can anticipate reducing the force, and we do foresee these things. We’ll adapt, and it will be business as usual.”
Krows can be contacted at 702-856-4916 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journalist and author Chuck N. Baker is an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a recipient of the Purple Heart. He is the managing editor and host of the “Veterans Reporter Radio Show” on KLAV (1230 AM) from 8-9 p.m. Thursdays and the “Veterans Reporter News” at 6:30 a.m. Fridays on VEGAStv KTUD-Cable 14.