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Army offering promotions, ribbons for referring new recruits

Family members, friends and leaders congratulate more than 200 Psychological Operations noncommissioned officers during a promotion ceremony, May 31, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thiem Huynh.)
January 26, 2023

The Army is now offering promotions to soldiers who refer new recruits, after missing its enlistment goal for last year the widest margin on record.

Soldiers ranked E-1 through E-3, the lowest three Army ranks, can earn one promotion if a recruit referred by them makes it to basic training, the Army announced Monday. The Army is also offering a new ribbon to soldiers of any rank who refer a recruit to basic training.

Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis, the head of Army recruiting, said the principle behind the program is, “Quality will attract quality.”

“The Army needs quality recruits to support our national defense and readiness, and the best way to reach these individuals is through the young professionals throughout our formations,” Davis said.

The Army fell 15,000 recruits short of its goal of 60,000 for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the worst-ever miss since the military went all-volunteer 50 years ago. Other branches struggled to recruit, too, with the Navy barely squeaking past its goal by 42 new sailors. 

The new referral program joins another recent initiative to boost recruitment: a remedial course for applicants who don’t initially meet academic or body fat standards, as reported by Those two factors are thought to be driving the recruiting struggles, with the Army estimating that only about 23 percent of young Americans are even qualified to enlist.

This year, the Army has already brought in 18,500 new recruits since October, Davis told, putting the service on pace to add 74,000 recruits in this fiscal year. 

The Army is set to return to its longtime marketing slogan, “Be all you can be,” this year in an effort to “reposition the Army and to inspire the next generation of soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, the Army Reserve Officer in charge of the Army Enterprise Marketing Office.