When I went to an Army recruiting office in 1987, the number of young men and women also vying to join was military was impressive and according to the recruiter I asked at the time, was enough for him hit his annual recruitment goal.
Fast forward to 2022, the new woke Army is indicating that as of July, it had only hit 40% of its recruiting goals for the year, despite offering its largest recruitment bonus ever of up to $50,000 to those who sign on for a six-year active-duty enlistment.
Blaming low unemployment and the wide availability of jobs offering quality benefits and pay, the huge bonuses for enlisting in the Army are not as effective in bringing in qualified applicants as in years past.
According to a recent NBC report from a Defense Department survey, only 9% of young Americans eligible to serve in the military have any predisposition to do so.
That is a considerably small percentage of the population, granted Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville’s indication to Congress that only 23% of Americans ages 17-24 are qualified to serve without a waiver.
Army announces creation of Future Soldier Preparatory Course
A new program, which began in early August, is one way the Army is hoping to fill the ranks as it struggles with recruiting efforts that are expected to fall dramatically short of the goals this year.
Army officials have described the situation as dire, with some predicting the service may fall 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers short of its recruiting target on Oct. 1 , or as much as 18% to 25%.
One of those who is hoping this program will make a difference is Chaz Andrews. He has previously tried, but unsuccessfully, to join the Army since he was 19, but has failed the service’s academic test more than 10 times over the past decade.
Now, at age 29, Andrews thinks he has a real shot to pass, thanks to the new program that gives lower-performing recruits up to 90 days of academic or fitness instruction to help them meet military standards.
“I didn’t want to give up on it,” he said during a recent break in his classroom schedule at Fort Jackson, where he is one of more than 300 recruits who have been allowed to enlist in the new Army prep course. And if Andrews, who is from Brooklyn, New York, is able to raise his test score, he will be allowed to continue on to basic training.
Daysia Holiday, 23, said her goal is to become a Green Beret. She’s taken the academic test and failed three times in the past two years, and sees this as her best chance. Holiday, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said many of her peers didn’t make it out of high school, with some “dead or in jail,” and she wants to set an example for her five younger siblings.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville suggested that the Army will not reduce its standards in order to onboard more recruits.
It will, however, do more to improve the caliber of those willing but presently unable to serve. “We have some young men and women that want to serve, that have some challenges on the academic and physical side here,” McConville said on Friday at Fort Jackson. “And what we want to do is give them that opportunity.”
Military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the totals are preliminary and could change, said the initial recruiting goal was as much as 60,000 this year, but more realistic expectations later put it at about 55,000.
With one month to go, officials are predicting they will come in about 45,000, though it could get better if there is a surge at the end.
Gen. James McConville, the Army chief, traveled to Fort Jackson on Friday for a firsthand look at the pilot program. He and others have acknowledged the recruiting problems and say they are due to a confluence of events and conditions.
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