Army Reserve has personnel shortage
The infantry battalion of the Army Reserve Unit in American Samoa is “experiencing personnel shortages” of around ninety positions and recruiters in the territory and in Hawai’i are working together to fill these positions, says Brian Melanephy, spokesman for the Honolulu-based 9th Mission Support Command, or 9th MSC, which has jurisdiction over the local Army Reserve.
The shortage of soldiers with the Infantry Battalion was first revealed last month by Gov. Togiola Tulafono on his radio program following meetings here with Army Brig. Gen. Michele G. Compton, Commander of the 9th Mission Support Command.
Togiola says he learned from the meeting about the major decrease in the number of soldiers in the Infantry, and suspects that the drop in numbers is due to the tough training involved, because other units such as engineering are fully staffed.
During his stopover visit in late February at Ft. Lewis, in Washington state, Togiola said he spoke with recruiters, who are now looking at coming to the territory this month on a recruitment mission.
Togiola said all branches of the military provide many opportunities for American Samoans, not only through continuing education for local graduates, but also jobs not available locally in the private and public sectors. He said the government continues to support the military due to the education and job opportunities.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Melanephy said the only Army Reserve unit in American Samoa that is experiencing personnel shortages is the infantry.
The 100th Infantry Battalion has two companies, Bravo and Charlie, that currently have numerous openings.
“Bravo Company has 60 vacancies and Charlie Company has 31. We believe these vacancies exist because of challenges with the system,” he said via e-mail from Honolulu yesterday. “We are working hard with recruiters to correct this because we know there are many youth in American Samoa who would like to join either Bravo or Charlie Company of the 100th Infantry Battalion.
He said the American Samoa-based 100th battalion soldiers are currently working to fill the unit “by word-of-mouth” — meaning “they are talking to friends and young people that may be interested in joining and serving in such a proud and distinguished organization.”
Additionally, the 9th MSC works closely with the recruiting command on Oahu island, Hawai’i to fill Army Reserve positions in American Samoa. Moreover, many 100th battalion soldiers and other Army Reserve soldiers of the 9th MSC support and participate in local events such as Veteran's Day and Flag Day.
“They do so because they are proud of their service in the Army Reserve,” said Melanephy.
“We know there are many who want to make a commitment to serve in the military and they can do this by joining the local Army Reserve,” he said. “We only want those who can stay physically fit, meet the weight standard, and remain dedicated to their commitment to the Army.”
“Any person who is interested should call or come down to the Army Reserve Center in Tafuna to learn more. There are many benefits of being a member of the Army Reserve,” he points out.
He also said that the 9th MSC and recruiting command will continue to work together to fill infantry vacancies in American Samoa and these ongoing efforts demonstrate teamwork and commitment.
According to the spokesman, there are currently three Army Recruiters permanently based in American Samoa to conduct recruiting operations and to assist with the vacancies in the 100th Battalion.
“The recruiting command sends a team to American Samoa quarterly to meet personally with prospective recruits. During their most recent trip they recruited 12 soldiers into the Army Reserve,” he said, adding that the recruiting command is currently running print and radio ads in American Samoa. The print ad is specifically geared to soldiers joining the "100th infantry family."
The next recruiting team visit will be May 10-17 for medical processing and enlistments and the team will be composed of members from the MEPS, (Military Entrance Processing Station) located at Joint Forces Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“The focus of our recruiting effort will be at the high schools and American Samoa Community College,” said Melanephy.
PURPOSE OF COMPTON’S VISIT
As for comments on Compton’s visit to the territory last month, Melanephy said the commander has visited soldiers in American Samoa approximately seven times since assuming command in May 2010.
Compton “visits so she can observe key soldier events and speak with her soldiers and their families who reside within the territory,” Melanephy explained. “She always hosts town halls for soldiers and their families so she can share current information about the 9th Mission Support Command and the Army Reserve, answer questions, and listen to concerns or comments.”
During her trips, Compton checks to ensure the Army Reserve center is functioning properly and over the course of her command tenure, Compton's trips have regularly included discussions with key leaders of the Veteran's Administration and the base exchange, he said.
Compton has also made a concerted effort to dialog with leaders in the American Samoa Government, including the Governor and Lt. Governor, on matters of mutual interest such as military support for Veteran's Day events.
“Brig. Gen. Compton is committed to her soldiers in American Samoa,” said Melanephy, who noted that Compton requested and received higher headquarters approval to conduct a dental readiness exercise (DENTRETE) at the Army Reserve center from Mar 11-25, 2012.
During the DENTRETE, Army Reserve dentists evaluated the dental health of Army Reserve Soldiers and, as needed, provided restorative dental work such as filling cavities or performing root canals.
The primary purpose of Compton's most recent visit was to personally observe the DENTRETE and assess its overall effectiveness in achieving Soldier dental readiness. Dental readiness is an important component of overall Soldier readiness. Compton stated the DENTRETE was a major success and at its conclusion she recognized and thanked the entire DENTRETE team.
Compton expects to continue visiting American Samoa on a regular basis; however, when conflicts arise with her schedule, she ensures her key colonel-level leadership represents her, said Melanephy.
For example, next week, Compton's deputy, Col. John Ellis, will attend Flag Day in her absence; and, just recently, her Defense Coordinating Officer, Col. Marc Wilson, was in American Samoa and next month her Theater Support Group Commander, Col. R. Rosado, will visit American Samoa.
“Brig. Gen Compton has charged all these key senior officers to act to ensure Soldiers receive the appropriate support,” said Melanephy.