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Air Force struggling to meet recruitment goals

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 20, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)
June 28, 2023

U.S. Air Force Secretary, Frank Kendall, remains undaunted amid recruitment shortfalls for the fiscal year.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security event last Thursday, Kendall outlined plans to manage the situation. He emphasized that this would not significantly impact Air Force operations or readiness.

“We have things that we can do to manage our way through this, so we’re not in any kind of crisis,” he said.

The Air Force, like other service branches, has not yet met its recruitment goals. Current projections show a 27,000 recruits deficit, a 10% shortfall from their original target, according to Task and Purpose.

The Air National Guard also expects a 4,000 personnel shortfall. However, Kendall highlighted that there would be no lowering of standards to attract new recruits.

Instead, the Air Force has been implementing innovative strategies to appeal to potential enlistees. These changes include new policies concerning hand and neck tattoos, and a more modern body fat composition test, replacing the traditional tape measure test.

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“We’ve got a long list of things where we have rules in place that really didn’t make any sense,” Kendall noted, indicating a readiness to evolve and adapt to the shifting job market.

To combat decreasing enlistment rates, various branches of the U.S. armed forces have offered financial incentives.

The Army and Navy, for instance, have both provided enlistment bonuses to attract recruits. However, according to Task and Purpose, the U.S. Army is still predicted to fail to meet its recruitment goal for the second year in a row.

The Air Force is currently using financial incentives to boost recruitment, with the Air Force Reserve Command providing a $10,000 bonus for prior service enlisted airmen joining the Reserve.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.