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Navy 7,000 sailors short of recruitment goals

Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Damian Berg/Released)
October 12, 2023

Despite robust efforts and the introduction of several pilot programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, the U.S. Navy missed each of its recruitment goals.

The Navy announced on Tuesday that they fell short by 7,464 for enlisted sailors, with only 30,236 enlistments of its 37,700 target enlistments. As a result, the Navy has increased its goals for FY 2024, aiming to secure a larger and more diverse talent pool.

In response to the FY 2023 shortfall, Lt. Cmdr. Richard Parker told USNI News, “Looking back on FY23, Navy Recruiting Command is proud of the effort put forth not only by our hardworking and dedicated recruiters across the nation but also by several new recruiting initiatives that have opened up opportunities for people to serve in the Navy. We are also proud of the fleet response to the recruiting shortage, and impressed by the ways the Navy has gone into action to help recruiting meet its goals.”

The Navy did witness a silver lining with a net gain of 6,000 contracted future sailors in FY 2023 as compared to FY 2022.

To widen the pool of candidates, the Navy has employed strategic changes such as increasing the maximum age of enlistment to 41 and easing restrictions on entrance exam scores. Capt. Jodie Cornell, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief of Navy Personnel, elaborated on this strategy to USNI News.

“By carefully evaluating individual circumstances and granting waivers where appropriate, we have been able to tap into a broader talent pool, including individuals who may have previously been disqualified due to minor infractions or medical conditions,” she said. “This flexibility has not only increased our recruitment numbers but also allowed us to consider candidates with unique skills and experiences that greatly benefit the Navy.”

In an attempt to resonate with the younger generation, the Navy launched the “Forged By The Sea” advertisement campaign targeting the Gen-Z demographic through social media.

The videos are focused on sailors sharing their motivations behind joining the service. The advertisement campaign was in conjunction with the Navy’s $1.8 million investment in Super Bowl ads, marking a significant shift in their recruiting tactics.

Other innovative measures introduced included a program to assist potential recruits not meeting body composition criteria, offering them a three-week fitness course to prepare them for boot camp. Additionally, multiple enlisted shipping bonuses and extended waivers were announced to further incentivize enlistments.

READ MORE: Pentagon lowering recruitment standards again: Report

Despite the aggressive recruitment measures, not all of the initiatives led to positive results. The introduction of a six-day workweek for recruiters was met with backlash and was promptly retracted, according to USNI news.

While recruitment posed its challenges during FY 2023, retention in the Navy was much more positive. The Navy announced that it exceeded its retention goals in multiple categories by utilizing strategies like billet-based advancements and expanded selective reenlistment bonuses to ensure sailors continued their military service.

Lt. Cmdr. Parker remains optimistic for the future, stating that recruiting efforts will be geared towards greater creativity and exposure.

He stated, “Recruiting will continue to think outside of the box and look for opportunities that increase exposure to our target audience and that increase opportunities for that audience to join the Navy. Anything that helps us do that is a success.”

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