Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some advice

Unfortunatly it seems that my inbox has become a place for people to send all sorts of stories about recruiting. That will teach me to get indigniant when someone lies about their service. No good deed goes unpunished.

The most recent one to make it past my Gmail filter is about a recruiter in NJ who apparently wrote some stupid things in an email with a potential prospect. Here's my advice for us recruiters. If you're writing an email to anyone and you see that you've written "VOODOO LIMBO TANGO AND WANGO DANCE AND JUMP AROUND AND PRANCE AND RUN ALL OVER THE PLACE HALF NAKED," stop.

Just stop.

I mean it. Stop.

There is no fathomable way that an email which says that will end well for you. None. Zero. Nyet. When your spellcheck suggests something for "WANGO" just hit "cancel" and delete the message.

There are so many things in that email exchange that are just wrong. The recruiter should have just stopped at "You're disqualified." Any responses after that are destined to end ugly. Alloying a disqualified person to goad you into doing serious damage to your career is a bad choice.

Anyways, now that's out of the way, let me share some other pearls of wisdom I've learned. Hopefully new recruiters will one day read this and think "hum, maybe I shouldn't do that." If so, I'll consider this blog a success.

1. Your USAREC email address is not the email address you want to use when sending sweet nothings to the object of your affections. Even in the best case you wouldn't want your first sergeant to know what your wife's pet name for you is. You just don't. So don't get into pornographic detail about your plans for the weekend when you're on RSVPN. Bad idea. Your AKO is only a slightly less stupid idea.

2. Skippy always talks. Your applicant will not shut-up about that open speeding ticket. You can grill the kid for hours and the moment someone at MEPS asks him he'll tell all about it, and be more than happy to write a statement. It's not worth it. If it's traffic he can find the money. If it's something more serious, run the waiver. If it's something which isn't waivable then you don't want him in the Army anyway. Telling Skippy to "not mention it" is just begging to be standing at attention in front of the battalion commander. I only want that for my PCS award (who am I kidding?).

3. Skippy always lies. That kid is not going to tell you everything. She's not going to tell the Station Commander everything. The only person they'll tell everything to is Doc. The moment they walk into med they will remember every single time they ever thought they might be sick. You can't hot seat someone enough. Ask them the same questions over and over in different ways. You can ask her if she's ever done drugs and she will be so high that she forgot she did a line of coke that afternoon.

4. Keep it in your pants. Repeat after me: The LRL is not a dating service. That goes double for your high school LRL and quadruple for the junior LRL. I don't care how hot she is, or how short those shorts are (and dear God can they be short), remember #3. You will not get away with it, and when it catches up to you everything is going to come out. To top it off they'll probably fry you with evidence found from violating #1.

5. The GOV is for official use. I know how you feel, I feel the same way. Running a personal errand while you're out and about is fine. Taking your date to see 300 in your G-ride is not. Taking your date behind the movie theatre after 300 is defintaly not.

6. Assume you're talking to the press. There have been enough people who have gone into recruiting stations trying to get someone on tape doing something stupid that you need to assume you're dealing with that. It's not hard folks. Don't tell that call-in he doesn't need to reveal his law violations. Don't tell that eager walk-in you can "take care of" his drug use. Don't email someone suggesting they do a "limbo tango wango" dance. It's a bad idea. Assume the kid you're talking to will tell everyone what you just said until you know for sure they're not out to get you. And even then don't be stupid.

7. Don't be stupid. This shouldn't need explaination. If you don't understand it you're violating it.

8. The phone is your friend. It's the friend who makes fun of you and you not-so-secretly hate them, but it's a friend nonetheless. Believe it or not, if you smile and dial long enough eventually you'll find someone who wants to join the office. And if you keep doing it eventually one of them will be qualified enough to do so. Don't believe me if you want, just don't blame me when you're at the office at 2200.

9. They didn't rush, they're just dumb. More than one recruiter has wasted too much time working with someone who is just never going to pass the ASVAB. They all have excuses and reasons. You know the reason though, they're just not smart enough. If they fail the test, claim they studied, and their scores get lower, they're not going to get better. It's terminal. Waste no more of your time. I'm not telling you to give up someone who wants to join. What I'm saying is know when to cut bait. The 30 days between the first ASVAB and the retest is enough time to demonstrate improvement. If they don't, they're not.

10. The only person who thinks it's the market is you. I'm not smart enough to figure out how missions are assigned. The statisical analysis that goes into it is ungodly. I tried to look at it one time and the math involved made me drool. Suffice to say though, the mission will always seem high. Even when it's not high, it will seem high when you're three short on the Saturday before Mission Monday. When you're asked why you failed to make mission/enlist three/ enlist one/ not finish on a -2 the only acceptable answer is "I suck." If you suggest anything else you can kiss a couple hours good bye. You and I both know that there is one zip code in your area with nothing but farmland and desert, which has all of 14 people under age 40 in it, and that zip code is reponsible for 25% of your mission because two years ago the Marine recruiter next door enlisted three brothers from one family whose father retired from the USMC. It doesn't matter what the reality is because it looks like you don't have a dominant market share in that zip code.

11. The planning guide is reality and reality is the planning guide. If and when my time in recruiting ends I'm posting a YouTube video of me half naked, jumping and dancing tango-wango style around a fire. The fuel for the fire will be my planning guide. Until then though this pleather bound Necronomicon represents you and your day. Don't be the guy getting caught with a jacked up planning guide. Don't be the guy in the station who can't figure your conversion data. Don't be the guy who doesn't have your mission assignment in your planning guide. It doesn't matter if you don't do what you put in your guide if you're enlisting people, but I guarantee the first thing they'll look at when you're getting your "letter of concern" will be that black-as-death abomination. Save yourself the stress of having to fill out three months worth of work when you're on the five mile drive to the CLT and keep it up-to-date.

12. Everyone in the recruiting process blames everyone else. You're the only one who will pay. Recruiters blame the guidance shop and Med. Med blames the Recruiter and the Guidance Shop. Guidance Shop blames Med and the Recruiter. At the end of the day the person having to drive downtown to pick up an unhappy applicant and then ride back with them to try and get them excited about enlisting again is you, the Recruiter. Even when it's someone else's fault, you're still the one having to pay the price. USAREC doesn't give contract credit for "almost" (I've asked). As much as it pains me to say it, and it's advice I've rarely lived by, suck it up and drive on. You need the GC and Med way more than they need you. Having a Guidance Counselor dislike you is a sure fire way to find your guys enlisting last and nit-picky errors holding up your enlistment.

13. ARISS is broke, everyone knows it and doesn't care. You will always get an error for the selective service number. Foreign nationals living in foreign countries in the family block won't validate without going into EPSQ. Even if you fix everything it will still fail to pass validation because of some error. There are multiple computer systems involved in putting someone into the Army. They are all massive. They are all important. And they are all slightly incompatible with each other. It's like trying to run Windows on a Mac that's using Linux. Two years later I'm still amazed when a packet clears MIRS, GCR, and ARISS.

14. I'm not a good recruiter so be careful taking my advice. If I enlist someone there is a disturbing amount of luck involved in the process. I was made into a recruiter involuntarily and I'm eagerly awaiting my return to the non-recruiting world. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more openly cynical about recruiting (I started a blog about it where I use my real name). However, for some bizarre reason the Recruiting Gods have chosen to damn me with some small measure of success. I don't have the answer or the explaination for how and why that success occurs (it might be tied to virgin sacrifice). When pressed I can give the "sooper smrt" answer which sounds good, however, for me, it all boils down to the good fortune of finding that one person who is ready to go. Whether that's the first person I approach at a school set-up, or the 348th phone call I made that day, it all boils down to them saying "yes".

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Oooooh... pretty

SSG Tomas, Mrs. SSG Tomas, Mrs. SFC B and myself went to see 300 over the weekend.

There isn't much I can add to the comments already made by the hordes of others who have reviewed the film. All I can do is say I think that it's an incredibly good movie. If you're not into violent movies you probably won't like it very much because, well, it's a war movie. But unless you simply can't tolerate violence in your cinema then you're in for a very entertaining 2 hours.

I have nothing bad to say about the movie. Nothing at all. However I do hope that all those who reviewed the movie, and said it was based on a battle where only 300 Spartans faced off against the mass of the Persian army realize that there Spartans had a good deal of help. Even in the final battle where the remaining Greeks were killed there were hundreds of other Greeks there fighting at their side. Seeing these actions on screen isn't going to happen because, although based on real events, 300 is fiction. I just don't like seeing people who should know better ignore the efforts of those others who fought and died in that pass.

Oh, and speaking of effort and devotion to duty, Chelsea over at Not as Easy has enlisted again and ships out shortly. You know what they say: second time's the charm.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This had better be true

Yes. I did do a screenshot of this question and answer on USARC's 79R FAQ page. I'm going to email it to the assignment folks. It is not possible that I am actually starting my final year. It's going to end horribly. I'm going to get extended. I know it. This is a viscious tease being sent to me by the recruiting gods for having offended them by taking leave during the month.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Well, that's different

I was searching through the coming attraction on IMDB and I went to check out the info on the sequel to the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. As I do I scroll down and look at the "Recommendations". I know that the whole "hey, this website gave a stupid recommendation" thing is overdone, but this one caught my attention because, well, it's a stupid recommendation.
The Grudge 2, She Freak, Chupacabra Terror I can understand. Granted, I'd only see Chupacabra Terror if Mike, Tom, and Crow were at the bottom of the screen, but I'd still see it. Father of the Bride Part II? Don't get me wrong, FotBP2 is great cinema and my friends and I gather every Sunday night for the midnight showing. It's a great time, we dress up as our favorite characters and reenact scenes from the movie. While recommending FotBP2 for folks looking for The Hills Have Eyes II is stupid, recommending A Very Brady Sequel strikes me as just being deliberatly insane. Obviously this list was compiled by the same viewer who gave this review
This movie is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. Way better than the first which is very unlikely. This movie just makes you laugh from the first frame to the very last. Not much more to say, a perfect comedy.
If the only movies you've ever seen have been The Grudge 2, She Freak, and Chupacabra Terror then I suppose it's possible that A Very Brady Sequel would, indeed, be "a perfect comedy".

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another missive


*20070302 1800h UPDATE* Something I had overlooked before has been brought to my attention. Please scroll down to UPDATE 4.

*20070302 UPDATE* I heard from Mr. Osman again this morning. The email and my response can be found by scrolling down to UPDATE 3.

Mr. Osman responded to my latest email. I had held out some hope that maybe he was going to be open-minded and take my comments seriously. That was no to be the case though. Instead I'm dismissed as someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, and who is simply upset about what Mr. Dugan had to say. While I wasn't too happy about having an HRAP call me a salesperson, honestly, I've been called far far worse. It's not the substance of Mr. Dugan's remarks that has raised my ire, it's the fact that he's being treated like an expert and an insider when he is No-Such-Thing.

You are entitled to your own opinions. However, there is a disagreement here about whether you think Mr. Dugan is qualified to speak on this issue. He was privy to what was going on "on the inside" and he was sent to high schools and malls to find recruits.
To give you an example here's from the Navy's own press release about a sailor taking part in a similar recruiting program.

"Travis helped put two people in the Navy who were considering other services. According to the 23-year-old submariner, after striking up conversations with these individuals about the Navy and his experiences, they both joined the Navy."

What would call what the submariner did? It's recruiting. Does it sound insignificant? No.
Sir, I do think your main beef is that you don't like what Mr. Dugan had to say. I certainly respect that.
I appreciate your time and thank you for writing.

Jim Osman CBS 3 I-Team Reporter
It took me a while to respond to Mr. Osman because, quite honestly, I expected something better. I don't know exactly what I expected, but it wasn't this. Maybe I had my hopes too high that my eloquent prose would change his mind. Oh well.

What Mr. Osman has done is confuse the activities of a PV2 doing a two week stint helping his recruiter with the activities of an experienced NCO who had been assigned as a recruiter for years. And what Mr. Dugan has done is misrepresent his service to gain publicity and celebrity in the anti-war/ anti-recruiting. And rather than treat Mr. Dugan's lie as an insult to his integrity, Mr. Osman has treated it as me being bitter by what Mr. Dugan has said. Here is my reply to Mr. Osman's latest response.
Mr. Osman,

It seems you are very mistaken about the duties and responsibilities of a military recruiter. Mr. Dugan is unqualified to speak about life as a recruiter, and what it is to be inside a recruiting station. His time as a recruiter assistant doesn't even register as scrathing the surface of being a recruiter in the military. The training to become a recruiter is six weeks long, three times the amount of time Mr. Dugan spent as a recruiter assistant. If someone took a tour of your news room would you consider them qualified to speak about life as a reporter?

Mr. Dugan was not privvy to anything "on the inside". He wasn't present at the hours of meetings and training that a recruiter must go through. Mr. Dugan wasn't responsible for maintaining someone he enlisted through their period before shipping to training, all the way through their graduation. His responsibility was to meet someone, get a phone number, and provide it to a real recruiter. At best Mr. Dugan is being misleading when he says he recruiter anyone, at worst he is a bald-faced liar.

The content of what Mr. Dugan said is inconsquential to me personally. If he had actually been a recruiter his comments would have been far more in depth and interesting. Instead he repeats the oh-so-passe meme that recruiters are just salespeople with quotas to make. I assure you that a real recruiter would have had a far more interesting and personal take on the actions which your I-team recorded.

What upsets me though is seeing someone misrepresent their service for personal gain. That is what Mr. Dugan has done, time and time again. That you've chosen to dismiss this fraud because what he said fit tone of a story is simply depressing.

I would suggest to you that you contact MT 3d Class Wes Travis and ask him if he considered himself a recruiter during his time on HARP. You don't need to do that though because in the very same press release, one paragraph earlier, MT3 Travis said "I wouldn't mind going back in a few years and becoming a recruiter." Obviously MT3 Travis didn't consider himself a recruiter during his time on HARP, so why do you assume that Mr. Dugan was a recruiter during his time as a recruiter assistant? To answer the questions you asked though " What would call what the submariner did? It's recruiting. Does it sound insignificant? No.

What would I call what the submariner did? It's lead generation. Yes, it's a function of recruiting, however it's not the only responsibility of a recruiter.

Does it sound insignificant? I'm sure it wasn't insignifigant to the recruiters MT3 Travis was assisting, or the MT3 Travis, or the two people he talked to. However since those two people MT3 Travis found were probably 1/30th of the mission the recruiters he was assisting were required to enlist, then yes, it is not very signifigant.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond back.
I'm not totally happy with my response, however it's the best I could do. At this point the story is over a week old and I'm nearly Quiotix in my tilting this windmill. However, damnit, this isn't the final time that Mr. Dugan will be pulled out of the ether and used as a quote on recruiting. He's out of the anti-crowd and CBS3 has made his name mainstream. In six months when some other network does a follow-up to their own story, they're going to contact Dugan and he's going to repeat the same lie. I'd bet my Predictatron on it.

There is a rich history of people who lie about their service. People pretending to have received a Medal of Honor. Folks like Jesse MacBeth and Lauro Chavez who lied about their time in uniform, no matter how brief, in order to advance an agenda. I can appreciate the desire for a reporter to try and get an "inside" story by going to someone outside of the "official" channels. However that is no excuse to do a poor job in determining the qualifications of someone who approaches a reporter with the "inside" story. You would think that a reporter affiliated with CBS would do a better job of determining the validity of anything related to the military. However, as near as I can determine, that did not happen.


I fixed a formatting thing where a cut and paste from the original Gmail message was inserted into the middle of a part of the rest of the post. I'd never cut and paste anything from Gmail into Blogger, and apparently sometimes the C&P picks up additional bits.


Well, I think I might have found something of my "smoking gun" concerning Mr. Dugan's time in "recruiting". I'll admit, ever since my first email to Mr. Osman, I had this fear that maybe, just maybe, my gut was wrong and that this Dugan guy really was a trained military recruiter. It took some digging in the ol' Internet but I dug up an interview he'd given to a member of the Campus Antiwar Network where they state what I'd been saying all along.
CHRIS DUGAN served in the Marines from 1995 to 1999 and was briefly a recruiter in his hometown of New York City.
Emphasis mine. The quote is about 1/3 of the way down the page. I don't know how to hotlink to a specific part of a web page.

Excuse me while I beat this same drum, yet again. Chris Dugan was NOT a recruiter. He spent two weeks doing a very specific and limited recruiting-related task. However you will not find an assignment order, MOS order, or training record which shows that Dugan was ever a recruiter. Jim Osman and CBS 3's I-Team did a poor job of verifying someone who they put on the air. At best they were played, at worst they were aware of his lack of qualification and went with him anyway because he fit the tone of the story. I suppose which of those it may be would depend on your opinion of a network news reporter. After a couple of brief email exhanges with Mr. Osman, I'm leaning towards the latter.


This was waiting for me in my inbox this morning.
I think you are making assumptions about Mr. Dugan's service. You state Mr. Dugan spent two weeks. That is simply not the case. You are jumping to many conclusions that I don't think are fair to him or to us. He indeed was privy to what was going on 'on the inside'.
We can go round and round on this and I think we've been respectful and as prompt as we can to respond. However, I'm not sure there's anything that we can say to change your mind regarding this story. You don't like what he had to say and that has been made clear.
As I've said previously I respect that but I don't agree about your characterization of him or us.
Thanks for writing.

Jim Osman CBS 3 I-Team
And this was my response.
Mr. Osman, you are correct that I am making an assumption about Mr. Dugan's experiences. I am not privy to his personnel record, and I was never a Marine Corps member assigned to New York City, where Mr. Dugan served his brief time as a recruiter assistant (the relevant interview is about 1/3 of the way down). However I am an Army recruiter, and I work closely with several Marine Corps recruiters, and after providing them with Mr. Dugan's own words and comments about his time in recruiting, they're convinced that he was never a recruiter either, and instead a member of the USMC's Recruiter Assistant Program. While I might be making an assumption, it's an assumption about a subject with which I'm personally familiar. The USMC recruiter assistant program allows Marines to spend up to 30 days as a recruiter assistant. Whether he spent two weeks or 30 days as a recruiter assistant wouldn't the fact he was never a recruiter.

Mr. Osman, you assume that I'm passionate about this because I didn't like what Mr. Dugan had to say. That's incorrect. Your story brought to light activities within recruiting that may or may not have been correct. That's your job, and I'm glad someone is there to do it. However the follow-up to your original story featured a fraud with a very specific agenda. If the follow-up had featured an actual current or former recruiter saying the exact same thing that Mr. Dugan had said I would have never written to you. However your story featured someone I am convinced is lying about his military service.

The military does nothing without paperwork. If Mr. Dugan was indeed the recruiter he's claimed to be then there would be reems of paperwork to support it. Assignment orders, training records, his DD214, even the contracts of the dozens of people he'd have enlisted during his time as a recruiter. He'd also have more to talk about than just the time he went into a mall to look for people or the time he worked out with a poolie who was going to ship.

You continue to repeat the claim that Mr. Dugan was privy to what was going on on the inside. By that standard then, as I'd mentioned before, a visitor to your news room would just just as privy to the details of life on the inside of a network news room. If I were to take a tour of CBS 3's facilities, would that make me fully qualified to go on TV and state what it's like to be a reporter at your network?
We would probably continue to go round-and-round on this subject until one of us tires of it. I have done as much research into Mr. Dugan's past as I can, and nothing I have found is indicative of someone who was assigned as a recruiter. The length of his career (only four years) is too short. The many descriptions of his time as a recruiter being "brief". The fact that the only thing he talks about his the time he spent generating leads in a mall. If you were to do what I've done and contact a Marine recruiter and let them see Mr. Dugan's own description of his service, they'd reach the same conclusion I have.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and I hope you have a great day.
At this point I feel like I'm talking to a wall, and I'd bet Mr. Osman would describe it the same way. Maybe Mr. Osman is holding a DD214 which shows he was a recruiter for three years and is just waiting for a wicked good "gotcha" moment. He is an investigative reporter and it's what they do. I read John Stossels' book. But after finding that interview he'd done earlier I'm convinced that there is no proof to substantiate Mr. Dugan's claim. But either way, should be interesting.


One of the first stories involving Chris Dugan I found and read was his piece in Socialist Worker Online. I've read that thing over a dozen times, and yet not once, not one time, did it ever register to me that Dugan gave up the game in that very first story.
For the two months that I was a recruiter
Okay, this means I have to do a bit of a mea culpa and I should apologize to Jim Osman for it too. I originally thought that the time a recruiter assistant served was only two weeks, and that's what I've been saying this whole time. Turns out he was a recruiter assistant for two months. Not that it changes much. The freakishly noseless (That's not a drawing, she really looks like that. She's like a smiling Voldemort with hair, boobs, and a bolt-action rifle) Mauser*Girl does the heavy lifting on this.
Real recruiters aren't just sent home for two months to go on recruiting duty because real recruiters first need to go to school to become recruiters. The basic recruiter course in the US Marine Corps lasts for seven weeks, which is about just one week shorther than Chris Dugan's entire supposed recruiting career.
I can't say anything better than MG does, so please read her summation and observations. I'm embarassed that I spent all this time trolling through anti-war sites trying to find evidence of Dugan's service when it's been staring me in the face the whole time.

I received a response to an inquiry I made with the USMC Recruiting Command. Someone in their PAO replied and said they'd do what they could to see if they could verify the service of a recruiter named Chris Dugan who served in the NY area some time between 1995 and 1999. I received the reply pretty late in the day so I'm not expecting to hear anything back until after the weekend. When I hear anything I'll be sure to update it.

I also want to give my heartfelt thanks to those who have had the patience to read through my disjointed ramblings. I honestly didn't expect this to go much beyond my usual partners in crime. That it has actually got someone's attention is pretty darned cool to me. Us recruiters are far from paragons of virture and integrity. Most of us are honest and hard-working, but we make mistakes. As I'd said earlier, I don't care if someone puts in the effort to hold us recruiters accountable. However I don't want to stand by and watch someone lie about themself to enhance their ability to condemn what a recruiter has done. If Jim Osman had put in the work to find a real, qualified current or former recruiter to say the exact same thing I'd have said "hooah" and moved on with my life. Instead he took the easy wrong over the hard right, which is the exact same thing his reporting implied of those recruiters.