In the near future, when someone in Lawrence decides to "be all you can be" and join "An Army of One," it might be a civilian showing them which dotted lines to sign.
A private firm that contracts with the military on a wide range of services and projects, from assisting with security to training foreign militaries, also is helping the Army with recruiting efforts.
The firm, Military Professional Resources Inc., recently began advertising in Lawrence for former military members to take a job locally recruiting for the Army. Salary potential is listed at $50,000 plus benefits.
Don Tarter, vice president of MPRI's recruiting division in Radcliff, Ky., home of the Army's Fort Knox, said he thought using civilians as military recruiters was the wave of the future.
"I believe it is successful so far, and I believe the Army is going to continue to grow it," said Tarter, a retired lieutenant colonel who spent 30 years in the Army, 10 of them in its recruiting command.
The Army contracted with MPRI to augment its existing soldier recruiters a few years ago. Six other companies also have recruiting contracts. MPRI has nearly 200 recruiters scattered across the country, Tarter said.
At a time when the Army is stretching to fill its obligations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world, using civilian recruiters frees up soldiers to do other jobs. Army noncommissioned officers who prefer to stay in other military specialties such as the infantry or military police, won't be shifted for three years to training and service as recruiters, Tarter said.
"The Army needs them to stay where they are, so the Army is examining just how much help they can get from trained civilians," Tarter said.
MPRI hires only former military personnel. A pilot program is testing the effectiveness of all-civilian recruiting offices in several locations, including East Oklahoma City; Maryland; Delaware; Dayton, Ohio; Jackson, Miss.; and Tacoma, Wash.
Only one civilian will be stationed at the Lawrence Army Recruiting office, 2233 La.
Sgt. 1st Class Colon Purdie a supervisor at the office, said he was aware a civilian was to be hired to work there.
"It doesn't bother me at all as long as they meet the standards we uphold," he said.
In fact, MPRI is attempting to fill 10 Army recruiting slots in what it calls its Kansas City battalion, which includes Lawrence, Tarter said.
The Army has about 12,000 personnel in its recruiting command.
"None of them carry a weapon or engage the enemy," Tarter said. "There is a percentage of them that can be replaced by civilian recruiters."
At the same time, Tarter doesn't foresee the Army getting totally out of the recruiting business.
"I think having an Army green suit presence out in the community where there aren't (Army) installations is a wise thing to do," he said.