The Army will fall thousands of troops short of its recruiting goal for 2023, despite new efforts to improve outreach after already failing to hit its goal in 2022, the Army’s top civilian leader said Tuesday.
The Army sought to add 65,000 new active-duty soldiers to the ranks by the end of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2023, a target officials defined as a “stretch goal” after falling 15,000 troops short of its even smaller goal of 60,000 for the year before. After initial optimism, it’s likely the Army will miss that 2023 goal as fewer young Americans are both willing and eligible to serve, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told Congress at a hearing Tuesday, according to Military.com.
“We are not going to make that goal,” Wormuth said. “We are doing everything we can to get as close to it as possible; we are going to fall short.”
Leaders from every service with the exception of the Marine Corps and the Space Force have projected recruiting shortfalls for 2023, but the Army will be hit the worst, according to Military Times.
“Right now we’re doing better than we were doing,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George told lawmakers in late April, Military Times reported.
Meanwhile, the National Guard is struggling with both recruiting and retention, as more soldiers are choosing not to renew their contracts amid an intense operating environment.
The Army recently rolled out a slogan and new ad campaign, part of a larger rebranding initiative, aimed at reaching young Americans amid a historically challenging recruiting environment. But some of the signature ads had to be pulled after star actor Jonathan Majors was arrested on assault and strangulation charges.
Other efforts to boost the size of the force include recruitment bonuses and the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, a supplemental camp prospective recruits can attend prior to boot camp offering physical training and tutoring to help them attain the Army’s minimum standards.
Army planners estimate that only around 23% of young people in America meet the physical and academic requirements to serve, while even fewer express a desire to join, according to Military.com.
About 3,300 out of 4,000 prep course participants graduated the program and moved on to basic training who otherwise would not have been able to join, Army officials have said, and the service has plans to expand the course.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 8, 2023
However, other new programs, like the electronic health records system launched in 2022, have further complicated the accessions process, according to Military.com. Recruiters say the records system is overly sensitive to past injuries, common prescriptions and other allegedly minor medical problems that recruiters previously ignored.
Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff James McConville have pledged not to lower standards for recruiting, but the Navy is opening up to applicants with lower test scores and the Air Force and Space Force are allowing potential airmen and guardians who test positive for cannabis during the accessions process to re-test, according to Military.com.
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