Army plans to overhaul recruiting to attract more young Americans after falling short last year

The Army announced plans Tuesday to overhaul its recruiting efforts after missing its recruiting targets for another fiscal year. The branch performed better than in 2022, but still fell short about 10,000 contracts short of its “stretch goal” of 65,000, Army officials said Tuesday. 

“It was evident I would say months ago that we were going to have to make some more transformational changes,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said. “Just continuing to sort of have the same approach, but do it better and harder was not going to get us where we need to be.” 

The proposed overhauls are a result of a detailed study of Army recruiting over the past 25 years focused on regaining a competitive footing in a modern labor market, which has changed significantly since the all-volunteer force began in 1973. 

The Army plans to expand its prospective pool by actively recruiting not only high school graduates, but also young Americans on college campuses by using digital job boards and participating in large career fairs in large population centers, like private companies do. 

“While today’s high school seniors comprise more than 50% of our annual contracts, they represent only 15-20% of the larger prospect pool from which we could recruit,” Wormuth said. 

To boost resources and training for recruiters, the Army plans to consolidate U.S. Army Recruiting Command and the Army’s marketing office into a command headed by a three-star general and increasing the commander’s tenure in the position from two to four years. 

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Randy George and Wormuth said this overhaul will take years. Wormuth said it would take a few months to even start developing the implementation plans. 

The overhaul will build on efforts the Army credited with helping its numbers this year, including a multi-million dollar “Be All You Can Be” ad campaign and the expansion of a prep course to help potential recruits meet the physical and educational requirements to join the Army. 

Army leaders have blamed some of the recruiting challenges on a smaller pool of young Americans wanting to serve and who qualify to serve, but George on Tuesday said the Army itself could do a better job using technology and data to get the Army’s message out there. 

“I wouldn’t even give us probably a C on some of the software stuff that we do,” George said. 

The Army plans to address this by building an experimentation team of recruiters working with experts in IT, data management and labor market analysis. 

The Army does not yet have a target goal for the next fiscal year, but Wormuth said it woul likely be lower than the previous goal of 65,000, while the Army implements the changes to its recruiting program. 

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