FORT IRWIN, Calif. – The National Training Center/Fort Irwin formed the Talent Management Task Force to take a more proactive approach to recruiting for the installation.
The team regularly briefs select Rotational Training Units (RTU) Soldiers on base about the advantages of working and living at Fort Irwin. The task force also travels to Army installations across the country to give the briefings.
The task force consists of field grade officers and senior noncommissioned officers who, in addition to providing information to the RTU, travel to other Army installations to have conversations with their high performing Soldiers.
“This brief is all about telling them what NTC is about, what life is like and allowing them to see what it would mean for their families if they were to bring them out to the installation,” said Brigadier General Curtis Taylor, Commanding General of NTC and Fort Irwin.
“We travel, network and build relationships,” said NTC G1 Sgt. Maj. Aquaowo, a member of the task force. “On top of that, we talk to the RTU Soldiers that come here from other Army installations. We engage with our local population directly to gain insight on how they feel about NTC and figure out what we can do to improve their quality of life.”
“I spoke to about 70-80 individual people one-on-one during my recruiting tour as part of the first wave,” said task force member and 916th Support Brigade Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Montrell Kea. “The second wave of my recruiting tour consisted of reaching out to individuals through email and corresponding that way. It’s important that Soldiers know how invaluable they are. We recruit them like we’re looking for Division 1 athletes to be part of our team.”
Fort Irwin is making major changes to appeal to more Soldiers and their Families. From paid incentives to improved base infrastructure and added services, the facility is changing to provide better work/life balance across the board. The task force was formed to directly communicate and advertise these incentives to Soldiers.
The Assignment Incentive Pay Program (AIP) promises a one-time bonus payment of $4,800 to eligible Soldiers who preference Fort Irwin in Assignment Interactive Module (AIM) and Assignment Satisfaction Key- Enlisted Marketplace (ASK-EM) marketplaces. Preferential assignment of choice can also be instituted after a Soldier completes a successful tour at Fort Irwin. Project Warrior is a program that takes high-ranking NCO’s and puts them in Observer, Coach/Trainer (OC/T) positions at Fort Irwin for a minimum of 12 months. The Soldiers will then go to teach at a Noncommissioned Officer Education System, Basic Combat Training installation and other institutions. The benefits of joining the program include increased promotion potential, preference at logistics courses and more.
Besides the incentives, the installation itself has a lot to offer. One of the biggest advantages Fort Irwin has over other Army installations is the predictable training schedule. The training calendar is published two years in advance and includes all block leave periods, making leave a lot easier to schedule. It also includes four-day weekends, known as “COMP” weekends that are scheduled between every rotation.
The installation’s location is another reason to have Fort Irwin on your radar. Located in San Bernardino County, seven major theme parks, five world class national parks, three major cities and more are all within a three-hour drive from the installation.
“You can get to popular destinations at the drop of a dime from here,” said Sgt. Maj. Kea. “I saw one of my neighbors pulling into their driveway one evening thinking he had worked late. When I asked him about it, he said that he was actually just coming back from a Clippers game. He had gotten off of work, gone to a Clippers game, and got back home by the time I was taking my trash out. That’s kind of the moment I realized how close we were to everything.”
Quality of life on base is an area Fort Irwin is actively improving. Services such as dental care for dependents, specialty medical care, child care and more are all getting overhauled as part of the base’s Quality of Life Initiative. Overall, Fort Irwin is making major improvements to ensure that Soldier and Family experiences are both personally and professionally rewarding.
“We are in a war for talent. We have to fight for every bit of talent that the National Training Center needs to conduct its mission,” said Taylor. “That fight starts by communicating personally to our Soldiers that they’re important, finding those high performers and letting them know that if they come here, we will invest in their careers and Families. If we don’t fight that fight, the talent will just go somewhere else.”
On a professional level, Soldiers have much to gain from adding Fort Irwin to their resume. Statistically, the Army installation has one of the highest promotion rates in the Army.
“Soldiers who come here are going to get a PHD in combined arms maneuvering,” said Taylor. “They are going to become masters of the fundamentals of combining arms in the close fight. They will learn to bring together the full symphony of war in a synchronized way that maximizes the effectiveness of every instrument. They will carry that knowledge with them throughout their career and be regarded as experts of their trade. That’s the competitive advantage of the National Training Center.”
“The task force was formed back in October 2021,” said Aquaowo. “Since then, there’s been a major increase of NCO’s and officers that preference Fort Irwin down as their as their assignment of choice in ASK-EM/AIM.”
Want to learn more about the many opportunities at the NTC and Fort Irwin? Sgt. Maj. Sierra Aquaowo at firstname.lastname@example.org.