The U.S. Army is expected to miss this year’s recruiting goal, with Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville saying this week the service will be 10,000 recruits short when the 2022 fiscal year ends next month.
In an interview with CBS on Monday, McConville said the Army is projecting to be 10,000 recruits short — 16% — of its 60,000 recruit goal for the year.
“We haven’t missed by that number in recent history,” McConville said.
That 10,000 recruit shortfall comes after the Army already moved down its goal size for the active force this year from 485,000 to 476,000. In July, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin said the Army will likely have 466,400 troops in its active component at the end of this fiscal year, falling about 10,000 short of the revised goal and more than 18,000 short of the original goal.
The Army could still fall even further behind than the 10,000 recruit shortfall McConville predicted. In an Aug. 11 interview, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told NBC News the Army had only completed about 52 percent of its recruiting goal for the year. It’s unclear how much the Army has progressed towards its recruiting goal in the last three weeks.
All military services have reported difficulty with recruiting this year, but the Army has had the most struggles.
Military leaders have attributed the recruiting difficulties to several different factors. The services have said COVID-19’s impact on in-school attendance has challenged recruiters who have traditionally relied heavily on access to high schools to talk to potential recruits.
Low unemployment rates and the availability of jobs in the civilian market may also be causing potential recruits to have less of an interest in turning to military service to earn a steady paycheck.
Another problem affecting recruiting is the growing number of Americans between the prime recruiting ages of 17 and 24 that do not meet the physical, mental or moral qualifications to join the military. In July, Gen. Martin said the number of young Americans who fully meet the Army’s recruiting enlistment standards had fallen from about 29 percent to around 23 percent.
The Army briefly considered a program that would have allowed potential recruits who have not obtained a high school or General Educational Development (GED) certificate to report to basic training.
The Army has since launched a program that allows recruits who fail physical fitness or mental aptitude test standards to go through up to three months of preparatory training. If the recruits are able to improve their physical fitness or mental aptitude scores enough, they can proceed to basic training.