To Battle We Go: On the Trail
By: Dr. Steve Kellner
Every service member who has ambitions to make the military a career and climb the promotion ladder knows that they will be required at some point to be involved in either recruiting or training new troops. Every current senior officer and NCO has done their time in one of these two areas. For example, the much-feared basic training drill sergeants made famous (or infamous!) in movies and television all came from other military specialties and returned to those specialties after doing their two-year stint “on the trail” as trainers.
This policy may seem strange to an outsider. If the job of the military is to fight wars, why pull war fighters out of the ranks to perform recruiting and training duty? But the policy makes sense when you consider that the military can’t perform its mission without a continuous stream of new members joining up, and those new members must be well trained. It also makes sense that the military wants recruiters and trainers who have proven field experience, so that the right recruits are selected, and the training is realistic and up to date.
And, importantly, by taking time away from their primary military specialty to serve as recruiters and trainers, service members show their concern for the long-term health of their military service and not just their own career. Nothing serves better to prove a future leader’s commitment and loyalty to the organization and the mission.
In the same way, officers and soldiers of The Salvation Army must be continuously recruiting and training new members, adherents, friends, and volunteers. Otherwise, our Army will disappear in a generation or two. In some ways the Army already recognizes this imperative. You’ll notice, for example, that many of our top divisional and territorial leaders have served as DYS’s and TYS’s (candidate recruitment) and/or on the staff of the Evangeline Booth College for Officer Training, and this is no coincidence.
But all Salvationists, not just our senior leaders, must be on recruiting and training duty. The Army has a never-ending need for people who will answer the call to serve, and those people must be well trained. Recruiting and training new members is a time-consuming and sometimes frustrating undertaking, and it may seem to take time away from more important parts of our ministry. But that kind of thinking is shortsighted and will result in the disappearance of our movement in a generation or two.
Recruiting and training are implied in our mission statement even if not stated. In fact, a strong case can be made that the phrase “and recruit and train new Salvationists” should be added as the third clause in our mission statement after spreading the gospel and meeting human need without discrimination.
Like our military brethren, we can prove our concern for the long-term health and vitality of our movement and its mission by our willingness to go “on the trail” in recruiting and training new members always and everywhere.