The US military is making a major overhaul of its recruiting system to focus more on young people who have attended college or are looking for jobs early in their careers, as it tries to reverse the years of unemployment.
An important part of this is the formation of a new professional force of recruiters instead of relying on soldiers randomly assigned to the role.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in an interview with The Associated Press that some of the changes will be implemented in the next 90 days, but a complete overhaul will take years.
“We haven’t had better recruiting in years than you would think just by looking at the headlines over the last 18 months,” Wormuth said, adding that the Army has not met its annual target. for new recruitment contracts since 2014.
Last year, the US military fell 15,000 short of its recruitment goal of 60,000 as it competed with companies offering better salaries in a tight labor market and tried to overcome a two-year the coronavirus pandemic, which restricts access to schools and events. In the fiscal year that ended Saturday, the Army added just 50,000 recruits, below the “ambitious goal” of 65,000 it had publicly set.
Army officials, however, said the numbers still allow the service to meet its total strength requirement of 452,000 troops. They said the Army has also signed another 4,600 recruits to future contracts in an effort to replenish the pool of delayed entry recruits, which has been reduced. These recruits will receive basic training next year.
On Tuesday, Wormuth told reporters at a briefing that the Army had not yet decided what its recruiting target would be for the new fiscal year, but said it was likely to be no less than 65,000. The low number, he said, also reflects the fact that the size of the military has declined from a level of 485,000 during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.