Pulling Rank to Put Recruits on a Post-service Career Path

By Patrick Kiger

Nov. 2, 2005

In one respect, Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle is more like a chief executive than a typical two-star general. He has spent a great deal of his time on external marketing, meeting with business and community leaders throughout the nation.

    Until he was moved to another post this month, his mission was to line up private- and public-sector employers to participate in the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success program, which aims to connect recruits with companies that they might go to work for after their service ends. It also helps the military develop skills in personnel that can later be used in the civilian world.

    Rochelle met with leaders at all levels, ranging from top executives at multinational corporations and police chiefs of metropolitan departments to educators and local businessmen in smaller cities and towns. Some of the high-level meetings were arranged by Army Recruiting Command headquarters staff members at Fort Knox, Kentucky, but many were set up by commanders of local recruiting brigades or by the retired military officers whom Rochelle uses as envoys in their communities.

    In many of these meetings, Rochelle’s function had been to close a deal. His prestige and influence helped cement such arrangements, says Army Recruiting Command spokesman S. Douglas Smith. “Our local commanders know the value of being able to bring a two-star general into town,” Smith says. “That tends to really impress people.”

    In one such meeting, Rochelle persuaded a police chief from a big U.S. city to look at the larger universe of service members as potential hires, and not just at military police officers.

    “I try to discourage the police chiefs from taking the narrower view of their job needs,” he says. “The fact is that a young infantryman out in the field is going to have to deal with a whole range of situations. That experience is going to be a lot broader, probably, than a military policeman.”

    Rochelle says he’s always willing to provide advice, especially if it helps bring more participants into the program.

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