By Jon Harper
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — 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.
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. Similar programs were later adopted by the Army Reserve and the active duty Army to boost their recruitment numbers.
The program appeared to be effective. The Guard began meeting recruitment goals, and during the years that the RAP was in place, almost 40 percent of Army Guard recruits enlisted through the program.