(NewsNation) — An internal memo to recruiters reviewed by Military.com earlier this month revealed that U.S. Army Recruiting Command cannot meet the quota of 60,000 new active-duty soldiers by October without involuntarily extending recruiters’ assignments.
And, as promised, 267 “high performing” recruiters were selected to have their assignments involuntarily extended Tuesday, a command spokesperson revealed.
“Based on the current challenges we face, the recruiting mission for Fiscal Year 2022 led to the decision to extend selected Recruiting NCOs through both the conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2022 mission and into the initial months of the Fiscal Year 2023 mission, in order to develop momentum going into the next accessions mission cycle,” Brian McGovern, spokesperson for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said in a statement to Military.com.
The revelation echoes sentiments expressed by military personnel officials at a Senate hearing earlier this year that stated 2022 was shaping up to be “arguably the most challenging recruiting year” since the start of the all-volunteer force in 1973.
The memo also comes after the Army announced plans in February to shrink its service by 12,000 troops, to 473,000, due to hardships recruiting — a move mimicked by the Navy, which proposed a similar budget cut, releasing more than thousands from sea service in March due to low recruitment numbers, as well.
One of the issues is that youth simply aren’t qualifying. According to 2017 Pentagon data reported by The Heritage Foundation, 71% of young Americans from 17 to 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military.
But while a large number of potential recruits fail to meet eligibility due to either being overweight, using drugs or having a criminal history, the other issue is that they simply aren’t interested. It’s a trend that can be linked to the military’s stigma in the wake of failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is a national security issue,” retired Lt. Gen. Richard Newton said Wednesday on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour”. Newton is currently the assistant vice chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force.
To combat the problem, the army is offering its largest bonus ever: up to $50,000 for qualified recruits who sign up for six year active duty enlistment, up $10,000 bonuses in the past.
“If we’re going to be unable to fill the ranks of currently, where we have 2.1 million men and women in uniform in active duty, the National Guard and the reserve, that’s significant for the nation,” Newton said.