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Military affairs beat: Slimmer Army still relies on recruits

  • Article by: Mark Brunswick
  • Star Tribune
  • November 27, 2012 - 6:59 PM

Brig. Gen. Henry L. Huntley is the deputy commanding general of the Army's Recruiting Command, based at Fort Knox, Ky. Even as the military focuses on budget cuts and drawing down forces, Huntley will tell you the Army is still looking for a few good, umm, people.

The Army and Army Reserve, for instance, are expected to recruit upwards of 80,000 soldiers next year for 150 military occupations that still must be filled, regardless of budget cuts.

Huntley's group includes 12,000 personnel, with 8,000 of those in uniform. During a recent visit to the Twin Cities, Huntley discussed challenges facing the new Army in a "right-sized" force. That includes working with a smaller national advertising and marketing budget and instead focusing on local and regional markets. It includes selling the Army as the most sophisticated and high-tech fighting force in the world.

It includes recognizing that, after a decade of war and multiple deployments, some soldiers may be ready call it quits; and using that as an opportunity to fill the ranks of the National Guard and Reserves with "prior service" troops who can bring needed experience.

"We're in a period of our lives where our military must be able to face any contingency," he said. We've got to have the right soldiers to fill the billets."

Even with forces out of Iraq and being drawn down in Afghanistan, Huntley said it would be unwise for anyone considering a career in the military to think that fighting won't be in their future.

"Our inherent mission is to fight our nation's wars, to win the fight on the ground," he said. "I cannot guarantee you you will not be going to Afghanistan. If I said that, I would be lying.

"We always ready ourselves for contingencies. The nature of warfare, is that it can happen at any time. If you come into the Army during peacetime, we cannot guarantee you will never go to combat."

Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434

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