Clarksville, TN – One of the Army’s top leaders told recruiters here that their mission remains relevant and vital even in times when the Army is undergoing a major transition.
General Robert W. Cone, who commands the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, visited the Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Center on Saturday. He spoke with the center’s recruiters and was given a briefing by its leaders.“We are only as good as the quality of people you sign up here,” Cone said. “I applaud what you do every day.”
Based at Fort Eustis, VA, Training and Doctrine Command oversees all Army training and recruitment agencies, including U.S. Army Recruiting Command, the center’s parent unit. The Clarksville Center is one 1,400 recruiting centers located nationwide. Cone was greeted by center’s assistant station commander, Sgt. 1st Class Robby Carlson and Capt. William Sharpe, who commands the Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company. After a brief welcome, the pair introduced Cone to the center’s recruiters and walked him through the enlistment process at the center.
In addition to providing Regular Army and Army Reserve recruiting services to the rapidly growing Clarksville area and several other middle Tennessee counties, the center is also one of two recruiting centers that lies outside the gates of bustling Fort Campbell, Ky. The center’s impressive collection of awards for recruiting excellence are noticeable after a brief look inside.
“This center is very busy,” Carlson said. “We’ve got to make sure people get pushed through and taken care of.”
Cone first met members of the center’s engagement team. This group of recruiters spends most of its days prospecting in the surrounding communities whether it’s visiting an area high school or participating in a local job fair. After the engagement team identifies prospective Soldiers and they show interest in enlisting, the recruiter support team takes over. These recruiters take care of the applicants’ enlistment packet and whatever administrative support is needed.
Veteran recruiter Staff Sgt. Gordon Ogden is a member of the center’s recruiter support team. He was cited by Sharpe for having helped five Officer Candidate School applicants join the Army during the present fiscal year.
“It was surreal,” Lynch said after meeting with one of the Army’s senior leaders. “It was pretty awesome at the same time.”
The daughter of Laurel Lynch of Clarksville and Jim Lynch of Connecticut, Lynch said she appreciated Cone taking time out to talk to each Soldier in the center and candidly answer their questions.
“That was pretty cool,” she said. “I was able to really learn something today.”
The final leg of Cone’s tour came when he visited the center’s Future Soldier manager, Staff Sgt. Jonathon Poss. He was even able to greet one of the center’s Future Soldiers as he stopped by the center. Sharpe also gave Cone a briefing on the center’s “Red, White & Blue to ACU” program. An initiative by the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Nashville, the program is a color-coded indicator of the progress Future Soldiers are making in their training as they progress closer to the time they will leave for basic training.
Cone finished his time with a roundtable discussion. He gave each Soldier a candid answer to his or her question. Coming one day after sequestration, this topic dominated the discussion. Cone assured Soldiers that their work would not be interrupted by the government’s fiscal woes.
“Your mission is going to have to happen,” Cone said. “I don’t think you guys are going to be hit that bad.”
The Army will continue to be in the training business, Cone said. With the prospect of a smaller force in the future, it is important that each leader be prepared.
One of his command’s greatest challenges in the coming years will be to integrate women into the combat arms’ branches. He cited the contributions female Soldiers had made in Afghanistan as proof they can excel in what has traditionally been an all-male environment.
“Women have earned their place at the table,” Cone said. “Women can hang (with their male counterparts.)”
For his part, Carlson said he enjoyed hosting one of the Army’s senior leaders. He took the lead on the visit because his center commander was attending a leadership course.
“It was an honor,” Carlson said. “We don’t get to deal with people of that rank that often. He came down and really discussed issues with the Soldiers and took time to hear them. It shows he really cares.”