PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Recruiting has never been an easy billet. Marine Corps recruiters have the responsibility find, contract, and ship America’s sons and daughters to recruit training. But since its inception of the all-volunteer force in 1973, Marine Corps recruiters have never shied away from a challenge. And while every year offers new challenges and opportunities, Marine Corps recruiters find new and unique ways to change lives and accomplish their mission.
Approximately 3,800 of the Marine Corps’ roughly 180,000 Marines currently claim the title “recruiter” – 2.1 percent of the total force. Most Marines do not know what goes into a recruiter’s workday, and what freedoms – and responsibilities – come with the billet. Col. Lance Langfeldt, 6th Marine Corps District Commanding Officer, looked to change that.
Beginning in June 2022, Langfeldt launched a new initiative: Pacesetters Leading the Way. The task was simple: district staff will attach themselves to a recruiting substation and work with the recruiters for just one day. This initiative, he believed, would give district staff the opportunity to see how hard the recruiters work and provide better insight into a recruiter’s workload.
Two months into the initiative, Marines are returning to the headquarters with a new understanding and appreciation for what 6MCD recruiters do.
“It was an eye opening experience; I would say that as young adults as well, aside from being a Marine, something we can work on is having communication skills.” Cpl. Tania Bryant, Administrative Clerk
“Recruiting is all about the fight and making mission. It can be really stressful, and just by the demeanor and expressions of the recruiter I was with, Staff Sgt. Atkinson, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was pumped to go find whoever he thought was fit for the Marine Corps. It was definitely encouraging and motivating,” said Cpl. Tania Bryant, an administrative clerk who recently participated in the campaign at Recruiting Sub Station Savannah, Georgia.
Recruiting often requires Marines to get out of their comfort zones and interact with an unfamiliar demographic of young adults. One way to do that is simply to call them. Cpl. Darnell Cabbagestalk, a supply clerk who traveled to RSS North Charleston, South Carolina, discovered that simple tasks like making phone calls were more difficult than anticipated.
“There are some people, when you talk to them, it is a little rough,” Cabbagestalk said as he explained his experience trying to connect with contacts obtained from different canvassing events throughout the year. “There were a few time when I got hung up on mid conversation, or a few responses that I did not really like, but you have to get over it. You cannot be in your feelings or too sensitive about it, because then it will affect your point of attack and your whole day.”
Recruiting is a strategic process, and beyond the Marine Corps Basic Recruiting School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, it can take months for Marine recruiters to master the necessary skills. Master Sgt. Ivan Lebron Jr. works on the 6MCD training team coordinating Pacesetters Leading the Way training. The training is straightforward and effective, teaching baseline procedures on starting conversations, building rapport, and active listening.
His dedication to recruiting is rooted within his own experience as a recruiter from 2013 where Lebron found a passion for changing lives and helping young men and women find their place within the Marine Corps. He fostered that passion and eventually became a career recruiter in 2015.
“For me, I hope the amount of people that go out increases, but my favorite part is teaching the classes. I love teaching, and I think that Marines get a kick out of getting information that is different from their regular MOS [military occupation specialty] duties,” Lebron said. He explained that the incentives of the campaign were not only beneficial to the mission, but also for the Marines not serving on recruiting duty. “For a Pfc. at the District, we were like, ‘Hey go recruit for a day, come back a lance corporal.’ That’s an awesome opportunity; usually you have to do that on your own free time!”
Since its start in June, Pacesetters Leading the Way has successfully shown district headquarters Marines how much it takes to be successful in recruiting. The initiative will run through August, when district staff will evaluate the results and determine next steps. As the summer comes to a close, recruiters are renewing their efforts back into local high schools, and district personnel are returning to the headquarters with a new understanding and vigor to help the recruiters succeed.