According to a report by the Army Times, the military fell short of its recruitment goals, signing two-thirds of the contract target. As a Gallop poll suggests, confidence in the Army is dwindling year after year, and the US Army recruiting demand stated that last year was the most challenging labor market since the inception of the all-volunteer force. How does the military propose to fill its ranks?
10,000 Short of Recruitment Targets
In 2022, it was noted that the military fell short of its intended target by 15,000 soldiers. Although this year has shown marginal improvement, a deficit of around 10,000 recruits remains. The Army contends that the primary reason for not meeting its recruitment goals is fierce competition for talent in a robust economy with attractive job opportunities. Additionally, the Army stated that the pandemic hindered recruiters from accessing high schools.
Recruitment Only Hit Two-Thirds of Contract Target.
As per a September report from the Army Times, the command aimed to enlist close to 94,000 active and reserve applicants by the end of the month. The report stated, “But as of Sept. 1, with one month to go in the fiscal year, only around 62,500 recruits (or two-thirds of the contract target) had signed up. Pre-training losses winnowed that number to just under 60,000, or approximately 63.7% of the signing goal.”
Active Duty Members Declined by Almost 40%
USA Facts has also commented on the decrease in qualified army recruits and highlighted that active duty members have declined by 39%.
2023 a Better Year for Recruiters
The Army Times reported that the service remains relatively optimistic despite the figures. An Army spokesperson, Ruth Castro, stated the “momentum continues to build,” and they had seen “an increased number of applicants” in the last fiscal quarter of 2023. Christine Wormuth, the secretary of the Army, said their target was a “stretch goal.”
Military Lowering Targets for 2024
Wormuth further explained to reporters at the Pentagon, “The recruiting enterprise in the Army very much understands how important that role is. They don’t need us to signal to them to put the pedal to the metal.” She added, “We’ve got a lot of work to do to implement all of these changes, so I would imagine we’ll settle on something lower than 65,000 for 2024.”
Military to Implement Permanent Recruitment Workforce
Her comments concerned a new strategy by the military to implement a permanent recruitment division. “We are going to shift from sort of a borrowed workforce to a permanent, specialized, recruiter workforce,” she said.
Changes to Recruiting Are Needed
Wormuth further stated, “We do have some specialized recruiters, but many of our recruiters come from different specialties all across the Army. They do a stint in recruiting, and then they go back out to do the thing that is their main military occupational specialty. Unlike the private sector, we do not have a specialized permanent recruiting workforce, and we need to change that.”
Only 9% Considered Military Service
Nevertheless, the military faces a significant challenge in drawing in new recruits. During the autumn of 2022, the Joint Advertising Marketing Research & Studies (JAMRS), a program overseen by the US Department of Defense, surveyed young individuals aged 16-24. When posed with the question, “In the next few years, how likely is it that you will be serving in the Military?” only 2% responded with “Definitely,” and 7% responded with “Probably.”
90% Of Youth Unlikely to Consider a Career in the Military
In contrast, 32% indicated “Probably not,” while 58% responded with “Definitely Not,” totaling 90% of youth who were unlikely to view the military as a viable career path in 2022.
Half of Youth Knew Little About Military Service
In 2022, the US Army Recruiting Command reported that half of the youth (50%) acknowledged having limited to no knowledge about military service.
More Than 70% Of Youth Did Not Qualify.
Moreover, as per the report, an alarming 71% of youth were deemed ineligible for military service due to issues such as obesity, drug use, physical and mental health issues, misconduct, and lack of aptitude.
Soldier Prep Courses for Unfit Recruits
To combat this problem, although Army leaders have insisted they have not lowered standards to achieve recruiting quotas, its Future Soldier Prep Course has accepted recruits who didn’t meet fitness or testing standards. Officials recently announced it will be a permanent part of the service’s entry training apparatus.
The Most Challenging Labor Market
In 2022, the US Army Recruiting Command noted that it faced the most demanding labor market since the inception of the all-volunteer force.
The Military Is Losing Public Confidence.
The trend appears likely to persist into the following year, as a recent Gallup poll indicates a decline in public confidence in the military.
Military Losing Trust From Gen Z
According to the September Gallup poll, 51% of younger Gen Z members aged 12 to 18 expressed significant trust in the military. In contrast, only 30% of those aged 18 to 26 reported the same level of confidence.
Young Democrats Least Likely to Trust the Military
Among individuals aged 18 to 26 who expressed trust in the military, 62% identified as Republicans. In contrast, only 14% were young Democrats, and 26% were young Independents.
The Citizenry Stopped Believing.
People went online to debate the dwindling trust in the Army. One user wrote, “When a nations hypocrisy, corruption, greed, injustice, and overall social dysfunction comes to light, especially a nation that is supposed to be the shining beacon of democracy for the world. Then maybe the citizenry stops believing in what it purports to stand for. Maybe all those things are necessary to keep any old nation running. But surely not THE greatest nation.”
Forced Patriotism Is Not the Answer.
Another user posted, “When you remove national pride like the pledge of allegiance from school this is the outcome. Send the Dvs” “Forced patriotism is not the answer. Give people a reason to be proud of this country again.” said another.