Total Force Recruiting starts at the squadron

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chance Babin
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

While Air Force Recruiting Service has a large presence at events like NASCAR races, the Indianapolis 500 and other high-profile happenings, recruiting truly starts at the squadron level.

One team tackles the coordination of highly-visible national events at the headquarters level, however, regionally, 28 squadron-level NCOs plan events and advertising specific to their area.

For Master Sgt. Maurice Mack, 349th Recruiting Squadron standardization and training/marketing noncommissioned officer in Oklahoma City, having success as an enlisted accessions recruiter prepared him for working in marketing at his squadron.

Mack won various awards including his unit’s Rookie of the Year, Gold Badge and AFRS Blue Suit awards.

“As a recruiter, I wanted to ensure I represented the Air Force across my zone not just as an option for service but as an option for a pathway to life,” he said. “I gave my zone my full attention on a daily basis despite the challenges my zone provided.”

When Mack made the transition to working in marketing and training, there were some growing pains learning the new job, but he had a vision for what he wanted.

“I wanted to ensure I brought my respect for recruiting and the appreciation I have for the value it’s added to my career – ensuring I gave the recruiters in the field the proper tools to aid in their individual success,” Mack said. “Since there is no blanket method to recruiting, I look at my position as being a source of information, tools, methods and collective practices shared to reach and build towards a common goal.”

A major part of his job in marketing is creating a budget and finding the right fit for his area of responsibility. In many ways it is a grassroots effort to find what works best in his area of the country.

“I work with my team, the recruiters and flight chiefs in the field to engage our unit’s AOR to meet the sometimes specific squadron goals for enlisted accessions,” Mack said. “We develop plans, ideas and platforms that meet the target audiences across our entire AOR.”

Mack’s work in marketing has been noticed by AFRS headquarters.

“Squadron marketers must have their pulse on what events and trends are going on in the perspective zones so they can build more targeted marketing programs,” said Master Sgt. Sean Christian, AFRS Events NCO “He does a great job at executing his budget. As a new marketer, it can be challenging to understand where and what to spend marketing dollars on. He has a ton of ideas and is able to use those ideas to help the recruiter.”

Mack said being from Oklahoma City has helped him tremendously in his transition to marketing.

“Being from the OKC area has provided a better understanding of our (area of responsibility) across the 349th,” Mack said. “With much of our four-state region having many similarities, this firsthand knowledge has provided a guide for the development of our assets and marketing strategies. Being native to the area has opened a few doors and created many networking opportunities.”

A big part of Mack’s job is developing a fiscal year spend plan, which is designed to meet the needs of the field and promote the Air Force.

“As a team, we utilize information gathered throughout the fiscal year to develop a plan to spend yearly funding in the most effective and efficient way possible,” Mack said. “We look at target areas of interest, mission related goals, innovation and ways ahead, Total Force collaboration, community and regional impact and promotion of the Air Force brand.”

Like the Air Force in general, flexibility is crucial to getting the mission accomplished. For Mack and his team, having some flexibility is paramount.

“In recruiting we are taught to create our weekly plans in pencil because things are always changing. This applies to the development and execution of the fiscal-year spend plan,” Mack said. “Flexibility in spending and planning has proven to be a key element to our team’s success. Throughout the FY, we continually look to redevelop and revamp our thinking as we execute our budget. This aids in unforeseen shortfalls in available funds and allows us to flex for any potential increases.”

He said from the start of the fiscal year, his team works on building a wish list of items and deals that will be beneficial to mission success if the opportunity arises.

One of the things Mack feels he and the 349th RCS have done well is utilize their budget to develop stand-alone event platforms to support events.

“Since coming into the marketing shop, we have developed an entire arsenal of assets to create both stand-alone footprints and support footprints for events,” Mack said. “Essentially, we are able to create event spaces similar to those created by the AFRS national asset platforms. We did this to ensure we are able to engage our markets even in the absence of available national-level support.”

An asset is something used to engage with the audience and make an impression, as well as a tool to generate leads. Examples of national assets are the Air Force Performance Lab, Shadow Strike and The Hangar. A squadron asset could be a wrapped SUV or custom trailer, etc. The area where the assets and recruiter operate is known as the footprint.

Additionally, with Total Force recruiting, working alongside Total Force partners maximizes coverage.

“Our squadron has done a great job in partnering with our Reserve counterparts,” Mack said. “Our marketing and training team have met with Reserve leaders on many occasions to ensure we are working as a team. From air show collaboration, local event platform support and individual recruiter zone events, we have collaborated with our counterparts with great success. “

The Air Force is embarking on a Total Force recruiting enterprise approach to recruit the nation’s best talent. In addition to recruiting for the regular Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard, Total Force recruiting also encompasses the Air Force Academy admissions, Air Force Civilian Service and Air Force ROTC.

Mack said a final piece of his team’s success is the support he receives from his leadership.

“Leadership within our squadron has been amazing. Their support, trust and understanding have been key to our overall success,” Mack said. “Giving our team the space to think, create, develop, implement and lead has provided our team with vision and courage. This space has sparked our creativity and drive to work harder for our recruiters in the field. Our leadership supports our efforts and we as a team are driven by their outstanding support.”