When Col. Patrick Michaelis assumed command of the 2nd Recruiting Brigade in July 2015 his mission was clear – it was all a numbers game.
As he prepares to relinquish that command Friday, Michaelis can proudly proclaim, “Mission accomplished.”
“This organization has the clearest mission I’ve ever been given. It’s a number,” Michaelis said. “No brigade within USAREC (United States Army Recruiting Command) had made their mission in the last five years, and I’m pretty proud that this brigade was able to do that coming through FY ‘16, and we are on glide path to do it again for FY ‘17. That is really because of the level of commitment of the Soldiers on the ground to doing their share of the work in a way that, as I like to say – how you win is as important as the win itself. You do it with the people, not at the cost of the people.”
It was a mission that did not come without challenges. When the National Defense Authorization Act was signed in December 2016, it increased the Army’s strength by 16,000 additional Soldiers – 2,000 of which became the 2nd Recruiting Brigade’s responsibility to recruit, one-third of USAREC’s added responsibility. But for Michaelis it’s not just about meeting the numbers, it’s making sure the people behind those numbers are the right people – potential Soldiers who are physically fit, have a right moral compass, and a score of 50 or above on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery – in order to “maintain the level of quality needed to keep our Army at the cutting-edge of tomorrow’s potential.” In the Southeast, there’s a natural propensity to serve, Michaelis said, but that doesn’t always mean mission accomplished for recruiters at the end of the day.
“I don’t have a problem with people walking in the door, I have a problem with the right people walking in the door,” Michaelis said.
As commander, Michaelis placed a special effort on getting quality into the formation, encouraging his recruiters to not only put themselves in the right place to attract the right people, but also to embed themselves in the communities they work in, settings where they can “educate and inform the nation, and our portion of it, on the importance of service to the nation and what their Army is doing for them on a day-to-day basis.”
“We serve a higher purpose – to connect America to her Army,” he said. “When you go 50 to 75 miles outside these camps, posts and stations, people don’t know the difference between this uniform and any other uniform.”
To further help combat that lack of connection to the Army, Michaelis created Regional Action Committees comprised of business, education and government leaders, whose responsibility is not to recruit, but rather educate and simply talk about the Army in their communities, with the goal of interest coming back in the form of new recruits.
The result of those efforts has been the 2nd Recruiting Brigade leading USAREC in terms of quality numbers.
“I like to call what we do as the ‘economy of force for the Army,’” Michaelis said. “You have limited resources, limited manpower and a no-fail mission. There is nobody behind us. It is just us. It is the 1,900 recruiters, 300 civilians, the 246 centers across the Southeast United States, who have to have the right leadership, the right training, directed in the right area, at the right time to be successful. That is the lifeblood of our force 10, 15, 20 years down the road.”
Often referring to assignments as either developmental, one that puts more tools in a Soldier’s toolkit, or broadening, one that “forces you to reframe the way you think about things so much so you have a different way of making decisions,” Michaelis reflected on his time commanding the 2nd Recruiting Brigade as “one of the most fulfilling broadening assignments” he’s ever had.
Michaelis will relinquish command to Col. Mark Olin on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Community Activity Center, building 3711. As he departs for his next assignment at the Pentagon, he had this final message to share with those he commanded over the past two years.
“There is an immense amount of pride as I walk away from this formation with how they’ve been able to tackle the mission, and how they professionalized themselves every single day, and how they have taken care of each other,” Michaelis said. “When we take care of each other the mission takes care of itself, and I see that every single day.”