Army recruitment fraud confirms the need for annual DoD audits

Image: Andrew Baba/U.S. Army via Stars and Stripes

I remember after my first combat tour in Operation Desert Storm, my artillery branch personnel manager presented me with three choices for my next assignment, known as the 3 Rs: Recruiting, Reserve Component, or ROTC. If you know my bio, I chose to be a College ROTC instructor and joined my wife Angela on campus at Kansas State University.

I knew for certain I didn’t want to be Recruiting Company Commander because no matter how great you were, it all came down to one thing: recruiting numbers. And there was always this looming specter of corrupt actions and compromising of principles in order to make those numbers.

A report from Jon Harper writing for Stars and Stripes reveals exactly that:

The Army is conducting an investigation into large-scale fraud tied to an Army recruitment program, Sen. Claire McCaskill, the head of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, disclosed Monday, a day before she held a hearing on the scandal.

Investigators have found that $29 million in taxpayer money has been lost to fraud, but that number could increase to nearly $100 million by the time the probe is over, Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, told lawmakers at the hearing Tuesday.

The Recruiting Assistance Program began in 2005 at a time when the Army National Guard was struggling to meet its recruitment goals as violence in Iraq escalated. The program was created to provide financial incentives to National Guard members not on active duty, retirees and other civilians to act as informal recruiters by encouraging family, friends and other acquaintances to join the National Guard.

I must question the wisdom of using retirees and civilians in this program, which clearly opened up the unintended consequences of nefarious actions. This program should have remained in the realm of individuals referred to as AGRs (Active Guard and Reserve) meaning National Guard members in uniform placed on active duty status. And remember, the National Guard falls under the purview of the each state.

As reported by Stars and Stripes, these so-called “recruiting assistants” would refer potential enlistees to an Army recruiter, and if the person signed up, the recruiting assistant received a $2,000 to $7,500 reward. The Army Reserve and active duty Army used similar programs. At first it all seemed to work just fine, but It turns out some Army recruiters, recruiting assistants and other Army personnel were claiming to have recruited people that were already going to enlist or had already enlisted anyway. There were kickback schemes as well, where recruiters would split bonus money with someone claiming to be the recruiting assistant.

According to Stars and Stripes, more than 1,200 Army recruiters are suspected of fraud, as well as more than 2,000 recruiter assistants. Five individuals collected nearly $1 million combined. All 106,364 individuals who received money from RAP will be investigated by the Army by the time the probe is finished in 2016, according to Lt. Gen. William Grisoli, the Director of the Army Staff.

This Army recruitment fraud is a prime example of why I firmly supported an annual audit of the Department of Defense when I served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). In my first three months, our office, working with the HASC staff, found three wasteful spending programs in the Department of Defense budget that would save taxpayers $35 million – a drop in the bucket maybe, but what if every Member of Congress did the same?

Just consider what the wasted funds from this recruiting program could have done for front line warriors. The defense of our nation is the federal government’s prime constitutional responsibility. However, the good stewardship of American taxpayers’ resources is its prime moral responsibility.

48 COMMENTS

  1. I want Lt Col Congressman Allen West in so many elected and Cabinet positions it would be unbiblical to have more than one life! prez VP sec of state, sec of defense, and many many more…So just start gathering like- minded caucus and persons and let’s run the Allen West block of people that he supports!

  2. I don’t think AGRs were immune to the Fraud! The Alaska National Guard and its current TAG should be on the top of the list!

  3. When an unpopular Army needs recruits, it often encourages fraud. Not only are disqualifying criteria disregarded by finding a way or a lie around the problem, but the Army chain turns a blind eye. It needs to fill the slots or else their programs suffer. I agree with Congressman / LTC Allen West’s statement whole heartedly when he says “And there was always this looming specter of corrupt actions and compromising of principles in order to make those numbers.” We engage in so many conflicts that we don’t need to be in the first place. Save our money and bring our troops home to the USA.Read more at http://www.allenbwest.com/2014/02/army-recruitment-fraud-confirms-need-annual-dod-audits/#6hZM0UVqk6Aroa6Y.99

  4. I agree 100% with what you said Sir, I am a recruiter and I remember how hard it was to find anyone that was willing to serve during those 2007-2010 years. I was disgusted with what we were authorized to enlist so someone could announce that the Army has met their recruiting goals for FY (so and so). In 2007, you could be over weight, have a felony, no high school diploma or GED and be a Cat 4 (score between a 21-30 on ASVAB) and you could get in with a waiver. What was funny about the whole thing is that, our leaders would yell and scream about why in the world would you let these types of people join when they were the ones who opened up all these categories in the first place so they could join. It was a very toxic time to be a recruiter (A recruiting battalion in Texas had 4 suicides because of the pressure for recruiters to recruit), and if you failed by not putting someone in the Army, you had to spend your entire Saturday (0900-1800) briefing over 100 slides on why you failed to enlist someone into the Army (this was a deterrent and a tool to ensure that you would make your recruiting mission the next month). To be fair, after all the suicides, recruiting command made some changes to their policies. They implemented a work hour policy (so we no longer had to work till 2000 during the week and we got to have 2 Saturdays off per month) Now-a-days, it’s not bad job to have, only issue is that their are too many overweight high school kids that don’t meet height and weight standards or are too dumb to pass the ASVAB. I believe that recruiting command has made 180 degree turn for the better. I can also say that I am very proud to be a part of this organization now, hoooah!!!!

  5. Unfortunately, Col, it is a sign of the times. This would not have happened under another administration. This REMF is ground zero for zero.

  6. I agree 100% with what you said Sir, I am a recruiter and I remember how hard it was to find anyone that was willing to serve during those 2007-2010 years. I was disgusted with what we were authorized to enlist so someone could announce that the Army has met their recruiting goals for FY (so and so). In 2007, you could be over weight, have a felony, no high school diploma or GED and be a Cat 4 (score between a 21-30 on ASVAB) and you could get in with a waiver. What was funny about the whole thing is that, our leaders would yell and scream about why in the world would you let these types of people join when they were the ones who opened up all these categories in the first place so they could join. It was a very toxic time to be a recruiter (A recruiting battalion in Texas had 4 suicides because of the pressure for recruiters to recruit), and if you failed by not putting someone in the Army, you had to spend your entire Saturday (0900-1800) briefing over 100 slides on why you failed to enlist someone into the Army (this was a deterrent and a tool to ensure that you would make your recruiting mission the next month). To be fair, after all the suicides, recruiting command made some changes to their policies. They implemented a work hour policy (so we no longer had to work till 2000 during the week and we got to have 2 Saturdays off per month) Now-a-days, it’s not bad job to have, only issue is that their are too many overweight high school kids that don’t meet height and weight standards or are too dumb to pass the ASVAB. I believe that recruiting command has made 180 degree turn for the better. I can also say that I am very proud to be a part of this organization now, hoooah!!!!

    • As a recruiter from 85 – 88 I can assure you that it was no picnic, it seems that recruiting atracts the sorriest of all leaders, for the most part. For those lucky enough to escape recruiting duty think about this, it is the toughest job in the Army and beyond, remember you can’t quit, you’re not a used car salesman ( whitch would be a walk in the park ) you are a soldir in the U S Army, quitting is not alloyed. Now you’ve missed your mission 2 months in a row or rolled a dongount, you’ve now brought down the raith of God from Bn. Co. to station Co. now who do you turn to for help. Keep in mind that every one fron brigade to station comanders are numbers pushers, you are on your own. Receuiting is by far the most corrupt racket in the millitary with no checks and ballances, and if there were I bet they’d number pushers to. Myself, I had enough and refused to put up with it anymore. I was releived for cause and barred from reinlistmen, then transfered back to a line unit, where the first thing that happened was to lift the bar, needless to say that those 3 years were the worst years of my life, there are no words to describe the low lfe indivduals that are in positions of leadership in recruiting unless you live through it. Good luck.

  7. My husband reenlisted in the Reserves on the promise of a $15000 bonus and when it came time to pay, they refused. AND IT IS IN HIS SIGNED CONTRACT. Our recourse? Sue the government….oh wait, but as a soldier you can’t.

  8. I ran the GRAP program for my state a civilian contractor. We were a pilot program. We were one of the most successful large states using this program and added quality numbers to our ranks. Most of our enlistees were HS kids and ask any recruiter, they are the cleanest to enlist. We saw the possibility of fraud, waste and abuse of the system early on. That’s how my position evolved into basically working GRAP every day. I worked with the Major Commands, DOCUPAK and MEPS daily. We had our chain of command involved…heavily. I would publish weakly and monthly roll outs to Commanders. Inappropriate situations were discovered pretty quickly. We busted several Recruiting assistants and a few AGR RRNCOs for violations. (Note, we could not do anything to the recruiting assistant, they were subcontractors for Docupak but if there was anything fishy, Docupak would drop them in a second). I would go to annual events with other states. I would ask around and found many other states did not have someone like me in their organization. I just shook my head. Told them they would regret that one day. Well, the chickens are about to come home to roost.

  9. “what if every Member of Congress did the same?” no disrespect to you sir…I enjoy your column. But, have you looked at the financial stats for Congressmen before and after leaving Office?

  10. Why are the services recruiting when they are trying to get rid of troops that would like to make a career of the military? And their physical requirements are unintelligent. I would think a person in supply that was overweight and not very physically fit, but did an excellent job, should be kept over a physically fit dummy. The combat arms is different, they know they need to be fit.

    • Since you sir do not understand the concept of the military I’ll make this short. I had the privilege of serving until I was injured in the line of duty and had to get out. Everyone from the cook to the infantryman is a soldier first and foremost. Does not matter if you are in supply or combat arms as a soldier your primary job is to carry a weapon and fulfill your oath you swore when you enlisted if you are so called apon. That is a soldiers life. If someone falls you never leave him or her behind. Without you living it I cannot explain to you why we except the sacrifices that we do without regret. My only regret is not being able to serve longer.

      • as far as I know your statement about all being a solder first (combat)…..the only one I know that do this are the marines, each and every one is a rifleman first, but it is not that way in the other branches. Only their elite units meet that criteria. the rest meet the overweight, fat, etc since they are not expected to be in combat (never mind the battle of the bulge when every one had to be used)

      • Anyone who joins the military and believes your statement is either deluding themselves or a fool. The first entry of the soldiers code of conduct is such… ” I am an American, fighting in the forces that guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.” Now then to say anybody not the elite units are not expected to fight is ludicrous. The soldiers code of conduct is taught in basic training. Don’t comment on something you know absolutely nothing about!

      • My only experience was RVN Sept 67-68. 1/4 CAV. Phu Loi. Yes, we all had weapons, most locked in supply. Supply Sgt old guy, about 250 lbs., but good at his job. Only the ARPS and air crew needed to be ready always . I did not care if the guy with the gun next to me was overweight or old, only if he could shoot. I never saw a cook or supply clerk need a weapon, and when I left base, mine was wrapped in a towel to keep it clean. Sorry my experience does not agree with yours, maybe we fought differently, until TET, steel helmet was optional. And I don’t recall missing many showers or hot meals. Left with 6 ribbons highest being Bronze star, never put in for the air medal, did that voluntarily. I consider myself blessed for the opportunity and experience of serving and I am very I did.

      • For your service and sacrifice I thank you. Light infantry now is different. Everyone including the cooks and supply do patrols, convoy security. Whatever needs to be done. All that aside and with all due respect the question is still valid. I too have my share of medals including a purple heart.

      • My two sons are active Air Force( does that count as military?), and I do know others. From their stories, I get the impression our own government is a huge obstacle. At least in Viet Nam we were very casual and beer and cigarettes were about ten cents a can or pack and good deals on stereo’s at the PX. As for thanking me for my service…I thank the American people for the opportunity to give back something for my life in this once great country, and the great adventure I lived, and the many astounding people I was privileged to serve with. I am the one that is grateful.

      • Yes the air force does count. Yes the government is a huge obstacle. I don’t know where they are stationed and I hope they come home safe.

      • Sorry to hear about your wounds, the experience is a whole lot more rewarding without a disability and not worth the 10% Home depot discount. The country owes you more then it will give you, you did more then your share. I do know that when the chips are down, it is astounding the courage that is inside almost everyone. Take care.

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    • And one more thing… If you were ever wounded with incoming fire who do you think is going to pull you to cover and quite possibly save your life … The physically fit dummy as you call them or the overweight out of shape “excellent” supply person? You decide… While you are pondering that don’t forget about that incoming fire! That’s why there are physical standards…

    • They’re not trying to get rid of troops that would make a career out of the military. They are only ridding the ones not willing to shoot Americans. Over 200 ranking military personal have been disposed of already.

    • Remember the weight (so called) standards are for the enlisted, and lower grade officers. It seems all the very fat, overweight generals, col, etc that stumble out the that 8 sided building each day should be on the weight programs of the different services, but for some reason they are not. But kick out a good enlisted person, doing a great job for being a little over the limit. Just obamassss way of destroying the military, sad to say and the top brass seems to go along with him as do all the crooked politicians both dem and rep.

  11. This has been a problem since Roman times I bet. I was a Recruiting Station Commander (On Production) leading up to and during the Carter all volunteer Army days. I don’t remember all the good NCOs who were in over their heads and tried to take short cuts to meet that all important monthly quotas. All kinds of tricks surfaced. At that time Recruiting was mostly an enlisted man operation. We had people who made up their own FBI background check stamps, knowly enlisted people who had been released from the various services for reason and of course the old “go in the Service or go to jail” incentive. So many people got relieved that in a years, time I was moved, on a TDY status, from Iowa to Nebraska to Chicago and to the Iowa National Guard in Des Moines. Same type movement in the Military today. Draw down,war fatigue and low morale. I just ask all involved to just man up, remember who you are and don’t do wrong things. Nor should you put up with anyone who does. Things will work out in time. You’re still the BEST!! Keep that pride in knowing that you do make a big difference to your country. And by the way, line them up each morning. Thanks to all of you.

  12. How about recruiter dereliction of duty being a fraud? Once I was a public school teacher, ironworker, graduate from an aviation maintenance program (A&P) which were omitted from the service record! My recruiter (who does not have a fiduciary duty to any recruit, mind you!) railroaded me through the MEPS as an E2! “Oh, but you signed a contract!” Under fraudulent misrepresentation after being told by him we have enough officers and they’re not looking for anymore! I was sent out of my division, being unwelcomed after being hazed & abused by high school dropouts appointed over me! Today’s military isn’t what it was during the noble wars, not these lies told by our elected leaders! Sad thing is kids are getting hurt and being brainwashed & indoctrinated into thinking these wars are necessary! If we stopped sending money overseas to countries that burn our flag and focused internal affairs, we wouldn’t be $17 trillion in debt! By the way, I don’t regret serving, I just regret not socking my recruiter in the jaw!

  13. The “Fraud of the Week”. What’s $35 million or so, if it’s not your money…What will next week’s fraud be, how much will that cost us?

  14. “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of
    government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important?
    And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the
    future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
    George Washington

    • Thank you for your service Don, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
      I ask that same question nearly daily. This government has grown too large, and fraud is rampant (as Col. West pointed out). The only answers I ever get is “vote”, call and write letters. I’ve done all of this (and still do), but we need more, and I can’t find the answer either.

  15. The recruiters might not be so tempted to turn to fraud if we paid our military members a decent wage. Oh, you can make some good money as a commissioned officer in the higher command ranks but even there a person doing an equivalent job with equivalent responsibilities in the private sector will make 2 or 3 times what the military officer makes. As for enlisted personnel, many in the lower ranks that are married and have families aqre on food stamp because they can’t survive on military pay alone. Yet they stay in the military out of lover for and dedication to their country and their fellow Americans.

    • You forgot the free healthcare , free on the job training, free travel , reduced prices at the commissary as well as 3 squares . (the first time I eat lobster was in the Navy for my BD) I took classes for free at a community college thru the Navy, classes that transferred over towards my degree. When I got out, I went straight to the VA office and got info on GI bill, VA loan program and career help.
      I guess I used my time in the Navy to my benefit better than you. The more you know , the better you do

      • What’s different between now and then is that now we don’t have time to go to some nice college courses (some do, but not most of us). If we aren’t deployed, we are in the field at least a week a month…
        We’ve also contracted out a lot of the OJT type jobs. After 20 years leading soldiers, when I retired no one gave a crap because I was an FO. What OJT am I getting when I learn how to call down artillery, mortars and CAS onto the enemy?
        Yes, we get free (and horrible) health care. Whoohoo.

        That’s not even mentioning that they have decided to serve their nation, they signed on the line knowing that they would be at war. They should be paid not just ‘good enough’ but well.
        Don’t you think it’s kind of silly that someone in my state (RI) will make an average of $38k on welfare while a soldier putting his or her life on the line for their country make less than $20k?
        If you do, then you are part of the problem.

      • 20k, you need to give me more info. Is the person deployed? Married? I was in the Navy in 1987 living single on a ship in San Diego. When I wanted to live off base, I got a job working at Burger King to make ends met since I wasn’t getting rent money from Navy. I eat all my meals in the mess hall, shopped at Goodwill and the commissary. I watched my money.

  16. As a military retiree (1958-1978) I receive a small check every month.I also draw reduced social security which due to job loss I had to take early.However,both small incomes are earned,but what I get is nothing compared to what federal workers and others receive as this president and his minions are concerned over pay raise for those who vote them in.Trying my best to get out of debt,I have been turned down multiple times for a consolidation loan based on my income.My credit score is good,and my payment record is outstanding (which is not even considered).However to stick the knife in farther,I have now found out that I have to pay additional s/s taxes because my small income is too high.So Don,I have basically given up,and I see no return to the country you and I served to defend and the constitution were swore to obey which is being done away with as this president and many in government no longer care for America but only keeping their massive greed coming in.

    • I am a federal employee . We get a 3% increase very year . Congress and the Senate have increased their pay more than we have.

  17. OBTW let me add one more comment.During Nam I served a period of time as a recruiter at a reserve training center where I also trained reservists in the Navy.It was difficult going during the Vietnam war and what troubles me now is the same anti-military crowd from those days (Hanoi Jane-John Kerry) are in position to continue to bring us down.

    • Ahh nostalgia . I remember how well the US government retreated the Viet Nam vet when they cane back from war? I guess you forgot who the vets fought the gov to get medical treatment for the effects of Agent Orange, PTSD and the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed hospital. It took YEARS for the government to even acknowledge there was a problem. At least now, the military has learned from their mistakes. I know things aren’t perfect, but it’s way better than when you had it.

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