D3A in Recruiting Operations

Posted By: Jacob Loftice Professional Content,

D3A in Recruiting Operations

Recent support to recruiting operations (RO) and prior experience as a recruiting company commander have emphasized the need to improve cooperation between United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) and outside units.  With increasing challenges to recruiting and retaining the manpower necessary to support the Army’s mission, USAREC will continue to need resources from across the Army to engage the public and secure the Army’s future Soldiers.  In supporting recent recruiting efforts, much of the friction I have observed stems from a sense that RO differs substantially from other Army operations.  In reality, RO are targeting operations focused on specific events and geographic areas.  USAREC has adopted the Decide, Deliver, Detect, Assess (D3A) targeting methodology to help drive RO.  What follows is presentation of a hypothetical company level recruiting event supported by outside enablers.  It demonstrates how D3A might work as a common framework to plan and execute USAREC events.

To aid the discussion, a quick overview on how USAREC derives its annual mission helps.  The Army determines the needs for the total force for a given fiscal year.  Planners distill this number into various categories of enlistment and refine missions for USAREC brigades.  Brigades are aligned geographically and each USAREC brigade is responsible for a defined area.  Information such as total population, historic propensity for enlistment, and age demographics are included in the calculations that determine a particular brigade’s mission. Leaders break down this mission for the battalion, company, and recruiting center level.  The assignment of the annual mission defines the end state at echelon for the fiscal year.  

Beyond breaking down the annual mission at echelon, the mission has monthly benchmarks an organization must meet to stay on glidepath for the year.  This mission breakdown acts similarly to a deploying unit’s training progression.  It defines requirements a unit must meet to accomplish its mission and establishes standards at set times.  In terms of targeting, a clear statement of the annual mission and monthly benchmarks define the effects a USAREC unit must achieve to accomplish its mission.  To achieve mission, USAREC planners and leaders identify geographic areas to engage, which they define by ZIP code.  ZIP codes with “successful past performance [that] are historically critical to mission success,” they designate as “must win/keep.”  These areas get rolled into a commander’s high payoff target list (HPTL) and help drive resource requests.  With groundwork laid, we can now introduce our scenario and walk through the functions of D3A in RO.  

DECIDE- The “Decide” function produces the HPTL, measures of performance (MOP), and measures of effectiveness (MOE).  Since USAREC’s ultimate goal is enlistments, USAREC commanders frequently request outside support for specific events they believe aid success in a given area.  For our scenario the commander considers the Joe Snuffy High School (JSHS) homecoming fair.  JSHS has a historic propensity to produce 15 enlistments annually, the highest of any single school in the area, and it lies within a “must win” ZIP code.  The Army has historically gained only three of those enlistments.  This demonstrates a propensity for enlistment, but an area where the Army has underperformed.  Major homecoming events are attended by the entire student population and staff.  This affords USAREC access to seniors, decision makers, and door keepers on JSHS staff.  Effective engagement of this event supports accomplishment of the company’s current mission and can shape future success in JSHS and the area.  The commander determines this event “must be successfully engaged for the success of [his annual] mission” and places it on his HPTL.   

The commander knows the high school has JROTC, a veterinary sciences program, and a robotics club.  At the beginning of the school year, he reached out to the faculty sponsors of these clubs and asked what opportunities or resources he might request to benefit their clubs and present Army opportunities in those fields.  Faculty advised that EOD robots and military working animals with subject matter experts would be welcome.  If recruiters could arrange for these assets, faculty sponsors of the robotics club and veterinary sciences program would allow recruiters to discuss opportunities within their respective footprints at the JSHS Homecoming Fair.

After consulting higher headquarters and contacting nearby Army installations and units, the commander discovers that a military working dog demonstration and an EOD detachment could provide support for the Homecoming Fair.  Getting these assets to the fair at the correct time, with the correct equipment, prepared to engage with high school students and faculty are now initial MOP.

Based on the Army’s manpower needs, the commander determines the Army should achieve seven of the 15 contracts anticipated for this fiscal year.  This number represents the correct proportion of total military enlistments from JSHS based on the Army’s size relative to the other branches.  After reviewing current conversion data for the recruiting center working the event, the commander establishes 12 appointments with JSHS seniors as a necessary effect for the Homecoming Fair.  Conversion data shows that this center gains one enlistment for every three appointments it makes with a prospect.  A prospect is, “a person who agreed to meet with a recruiter or a person who has met with a recruiter but has not committed to process.”  Processing entails any or all steps required to enlist such as taking the ASVAB, service physical, and background investigation.  If USAREC achieves this effect, the center has positioned itself to achieve its annual goal for JSHS.  The commander has now established initial MOE for the event.

DETECT- The “Detect” function includes information collection and refining MOP and MOE.  For the JSHS homecoming fair the information to collect is leads.  “A lead is a name, an address, telephone number, or e-mail address of a person with whom an Army Interview has yet to be scheduled.”  The sensors to collect this information are recruiters and Soldiers supporting the event.  To ensure proper collection of this information, recruiters provide hard copy lead cards and pens to the Soldiers from the military working dog team and the EOD detachment.  Recruiters at each location have tablets that link to USAREC systems of record to capture leads digitally.  The commander has also assigned recruiters to remain with each supporting element to facilitate questions about enlistment and collection of leads.  The commander now has refined MOP and established the data collection plan for the event.

JSHS staff has refined the footprint for the Homecoming Fair and the time slots for USAREC’s participation.  With the location and time firmly established, the commander communicates these requirements to the supporting elements as refined MOP.  As planning and engagement with JSHS has progressed, a recruiter learns that the school has monthly education/career fairs.  An organization requires a faculty sponsor to participate.  The commander adds to the MOE gaining a commitment from a faculty member to sponsor USAREC to attend at least one of the monthly career fairs in the spring semester.  The commander has now refined and communicated MOE for the event. 

DELIVER- The “Deliver” function is the execution of the plan.  For our event the supporting Soldiers both showed at the correct time and place and provided the demonstrations and engagements at the homecoming fair.  Recruiters supported both locations and facilitated the collection of leads and each engaged the faculty regarding monthly career fairs.

ASSESS- The “Assess” function determines task accomplishment in terms of MOP and effects in terms of MOE and determines if a re-engagement is appropriate.  Supporting elements and recruiters arriving when and where they were tasked and engaging attendees of the fair meets MOP.  Recruiters at each site conduct a hot wash with supporting Soldiers to gain feedback on improving collaboration in the future.  The supporting Soldiers advise that the communication related to the event helped them understand expectations for their actions at the event but did not convey specific effects intended by USAREC.  Further, they ask for feedback regarding the return on investment for the time, effort, and logistical costs of their participation.  Feedback from the operation, as in any other exercise or combat operation, educates supporting unit leadership and equips them to tailor and expand support to RO

In terms of MOE, USAREC receives a commitment from the robotics club faculty advisor to sponsor the recruiting center at the February career fair.  Due to the need to sift through collected leads, the center determines several days later it has only made nine appointments.  However, from those nine, they identify four personnel who agree to process.  While this fails to meet MOE for the fair, the event achieves its downstream effects by gaining four applicants for enlistment.  In planning future events and requesting outside support, this feedback informs future communication with supporting elements, refines MOP and MOE, and helps determine if re-engaging this event in the future is worthwhile.

Supporting the future of the Army is our responsibility.  D3A methodology is a beneficial tool to improve communication between USAREC and the rest of the Army by using a common framework.  Improving communication and promoting shared understanding between USAREC and supporting units produces actionable feedback to commanders.  This allows USAREC to adjust RO and give supporting commanders information they need to develop and share TTPs and capture return on investment.  As understanding between USAREC and the rest of the Army improves, units will understand where and how to integrate USAREC into existing events and how they might support USAREC events.


Biography- MAJ Jacob Loftice currently serves as the Operations Officer for the 428th Field Artillery Brigade on Fort Sill, OK where the Cornerstone Brigade has recently supported multiple USAREC events in Southwest Oklahoma.  He previously commanded the Baybrook Recruiting Company in the Houston Recruiting Battalion from 2015-2017.