ORLANDO, Fla. --
After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 500 Air Force Reserve recruiters and support personnel from around the globe gathered here Nov. 5-9 for a deployment for training event.
Usually held annually, the DFT allows recruiting leaders to fulfill readiness, regulatory, upgrade and continuity training requirements. It also provides commanders the opportunity to promote a healthy command climate while fostering good order and discipline, teamwork, cohesion and trust for their geographically separated recruiters.
“Everyone in this room has been selected to serve in recruiting. This is a calling,” Chief Master Sgt. Jeanette Masters, 367th Recruiting Group manager, said while kicking off the four-day training program. “There is no lethality in the military without the individuals in this room.”
Masters focused on several key themes during her speech to the entire recruiting enlisted force, ranging from the challenges presented by the pandemic to career development.
She encouraged recruiters to challenge current processes and innovate to reach their personal and career development goals, and to leverage resources such as unit first sergeants and chiefs to grow and build a depth and breadth of experience.
The recruiting environment has been extremely challenging for the past couple of years, resulting in the Air Force Reserve missing its accession goal by nearly 2,000 recruits for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Some of the factors that led to the Reserve missing its goal of adding 8,600 new recruits were low unemployment across the United States, the pandemic, a lower propensity to serve among 17- 24-year-olds and an inability for many potential recruits to meet enlistment requirement standards.
Despite these challenges, senior leaders stressed to the recruiters in attendance that they are the tip of the spear for the Reserve and that support for recruiting is paramount for mission success.
“We live in a dangerous world and have lived in a dangerous world for a long time,” said Brig. Gen. Lisa M. Craig, Air Force Recruiting Service deputy commander. “What you do is build our capability to thwart the threats. You are the force generators to ensure the readiness of our entire force. Without you, we have no mission.”
Craig acknowledged that last year was a very tough year for recruiters and this year will be tough as well.
“We know that through your presence in the communities, we will continue to excel,” she said. “The mission is to change the lives of our future service members and those that continue to serve as prior-service members. We want to thank you for all you do, day-in and day-out to struggle through. We are working at the highest levels to give you all the tools you need, but it’s really you who make all the difference.”
For many recruiters, like Tech. Sgt. Sophia Knight, this was their first DFT.
Knight is assigned to the 351st Recruiting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. She transitioned from a role in health services management and began her recruiting assignment just before the pandemic began in 2020.
“I wanted a change and a challenge,” she said. “Being here, I realize I am not alone regarding some of the challenges I have gone through in my role. I really liked the generational training. My whole mentality is different when understanding their mindset. Being around my teammates has been very inspiring. This training program is very beneficial to us and helps replenish the tank in order to keep going.”
At the culminating awards dinner, Col. Eugene B. Smith III, 367th Recruiting Group commander, shared his heartfelt admiration and dedication to his team and the hundreds of recruiters who work tirelessly to generate the future force for the Air Force Reserve.
“I will never leave you alone. Stay shoulder to shoulder with me and get us to 9,300,” Smith said, addressing this year’s goal. “We can do it! Who is with me … shoulder to shoulder? I love you guys.”
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