Despite huge bonuses, forgiveness for drug usage, Army still comes short of recruiting goals

As part of a mass enlistment ceremony, Future Soldiers from the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion recite the oath of enlistment, Aug. 26, Chase Field, Phoenix, prior to a Major League Baseball Game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners. (Photo by Mike Scheck, USAREC Public Affairs)

Despite considerable efforts to entice new recruits, the US Army has failed to meet recruiting goals across all fronts.

Falling behind the other three branches despite attractive enlistment packages, the Army only recruited about 70,000 active duty recruits this year, about 6,500 fewer than they needed. In the Army Reserves and National Guard, the recruitment numbers also fell short.

Meanwhile, the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps managed to make their numbers.

The recruiting shortfalls come as a surprise, particularly at a time when some Army recruits are getting pretty sweet enlistment deals. In August, a US Army Reserves Recruit enlisted as a Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair Specialist (MOS 92S), earning her a “$20K bonus, 50K Student Loan Repayment, and a $350 monthly GI Bill Kicker, on top of the Montgomery GI Bill.”

In addition to bonuses and other perks, marijuana waivers have been doled out in record numbers, giving leniency to those who smoked before they considered enlisting. Other waivers, such as for physical and mental health, were also obtained.

According to News-Press Now, Army officials are blaming a series of issues on failed recruiting numbers, including thousands of permanent legal residents who -despite a desire to enlist- could not get through the screening process in time.

Another challenge seems to be that of society’s plunge into the digital age, where recruiters are being forced to communicate with recruits or parents through the internet, rather than traditional means.

“Nobody wants to talk to us,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command. “If we do get ahold of a potential recruit, they actually don’t want to talk to you on the phone, what they want to do is meet you online first in some type of digital format and then, if they agree to meet with you, you can get the phone call.”

But make no mistake, the Army is adapting. Soon, recruiters will be lurking online in social gaming settings, going to CrossFit events, and spending time on ground -be it physical or digital- wherever people might be flocking in a modern era.

A good example of this involves an Army recruiter from Baton Rouge, who has a high ranking on Ultimate Fighter and served as an emcee for a tournament earlier this year. The soldier used his uniform and public media presence to talk about the Army.

“We reached 2.4 million people over one hour, and he was able to get the message out,” said Muth.

Despite shortfalls, it seems, the Army will continue rolling along.

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