CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – “Giving all I got. I ain’t never going to stop. Army changed my life…” Lyrics to the “Giving All I Got” U.S. Army Recruiter Anthem plays on as 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division (Rotational), 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, exceeds their retention expectations while forward deployed to the Republic of Korea for a nine-month rotation.
The 3ABCT, 1AD deployed to the Korean Peninsula and has been conducting combined training with their ROK Army allies since September 2018 to provide 2ID/ROK-US Combined Division with fully trained units for an increased overall readiness posture and still managed to exceed the Army retention standard.
“First of all, I would like to say that our Soldiers out here (Republic of Korea) were very motivated, and pure readiness played a factor in our retention program,” said Command Sgt. Major Michael Oliver, native of Detroit, Michigan and senior enlisted advisor to 3ABCT, 1AD. “We were the first brigade to close out our mission from the three large brigades in 1st Armored Division – Strike, Ready, and us Bulldogs.”
Bulldog Brigade has conducted more than 230 training and cultural events, in terms of combined training exercises to increase interoperability; as well as community partnership activities to further strengthen the ROK-US alliance throughout their deployment. However, meeting retention goals did not come without its challenges.
“We exceeded what we were supposed to for the first half (of the fiscal year), but it was definitely one of the more challenging missions I’ve ever had because we began with a huge disadvantage,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Thompson, native of Las Cruces, New Mexico and career counselor for 3ABCT, 1AD.
“When the mission started on October 1st, Main Body 1 (first deployment flight from home station to Korea) was leaving, so we really didn’t even start retention actions until mid-November, almost December.”
Bonuses, duty station and assignments of choice are some of the incentives offered to Soldiers by career counselors to entice retention, however, career counselors at each unit also have to take other aspects into consideration that may impact a Soldiers decision to re-enlist.
“What is making the soldiers disgruntled? What is the problem? Are they being taken care of as far as their finances go?” he said. “We get involved in their personal stuff. We’ll even have spouses call and ask questions because it’s their career too. There’s a lot involved.”
Unit career counselors also have to consider the quality of individuals they are able to retain because continuation of service is not guaranteed. Military service is regarded as a privilege, not a right, due to the responsibility, risk, and high-operational tempo each service member will be required to face during their tour of duty.
“I believe serving in the Army is a privilege and we should only retain the best of the best in the military,” said Oliver. “We’re glad to have Soldiers serve, and we appreciate all of those who want to stay, but this is a hard job and we need the best for the Army from our American society.”