Recruitment not a problem for Navy, Marine Corps

Thursday - 3/22/2012, 2:05am EDT

Juan Garcia, assistant secretary, manpower and reserve affairs, Navy

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After a decade of war, you might think the Navy would have problems attracting and keeping high-quality personnel on active duty and in the reserves. Juan Garcia, the Navy's assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, will tell you you're wrong.

"It's never been tougher to stay in the Navy and Marine Corps," Garcia said in this edition of Agency of the Month.

"We just went through a difficult process called the Enlisted Retention Board, where we ultimately had to ask 3,000 of our sailors to move on and continue their careers largely outside the Navy," Garcia said. "Our advancement and promotion systems were working as designed, but those systems were never designed for this level of retention."

Even though it's hard to stay in the Navy and Marine Corps, the Navy is increasing its ranks in some areas.

"The key growth areas...are in the IT world, specifically cyber warfare, ballistic missile defense, and unmanned vehicles."

Many outside observers credit the slow economy over the past several years for the military's recruiting and retention success. But Garcia sees that as just one of three reasons for his agency's achievements.

"Our compensation package has caught up to our civilian counterparts," Garcia noted, adding the attraction of the GI bill and its broader availability.

Garcia said he remains amazed that the talent pool is still deep for the Navy and Marine Corps.

"This is a generation that has known nothing but war their entire adult lives. But they keep coming. It's an embarrassment of riches, how great a recruit quality we're getting right now."


Biography:

Juan M. Garcia, III was confirmed as the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs on Sept. 16 2009. In this capacity, he acts on matters pertaining to manpower and personnel policy within the Department of the Navy including issues affecting active duty and reserve sailors, Marines, and Department of the Navy civilians.

Garcia is an attorney, a former Texas state representative, and a second-generation naval aviator. Garcia, whose family hails from south Texas, was born May 27, 1966. He graduated from UCLA in 1988 and gave the student commencement speech. Garcia earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an M.A. from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1992. After graduation, Garcia reported to Aviation Officer Candidate School and flight training, earning his "Wings of Gold" at Naval Air Station (NAS), Corpus Christi, Texas.

Garcia served in Patrol Squadron 47 out of NAS Barber's Point, Hawaii, and completed deployments to the Persian Gulf and western Pacific. Garcia also served overseas as flag aide to the deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe in London, England, deploying as part of Operation Allied Force during hostilities in Kosovo. From 1999 to 2000, Garcia was one of 16 Americans selected to serve as a White House Fellow, serving as a special assistant to the Secretary of Education, the Hon. Richard Riley. Garcia then reported for sea duty aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, serving as the officer of the deck. In 2002, Garcia returned to the air as a flight instructor with Training Squadron 27 at NAS Corpus Christi.

Garcia left active duty in 2004 and transferred to the Navy Reserve. He served as the commanding officer of Reserve Training Squadron 28 at Corpus Christi until becoming assistant secretary of the Navy (M&RA) in October 2009.

Garcia joined the Corpus Christi law firm of Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer, and Kern as an associate attorney in 2004. In 2006, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and represented the 32nd District from 2007-2009. While in the State House, Garcia focused on transparency in government and veterans issues.