US military struggled to attract National Guard and reserve troops but met targets for full-time recruits in 2021 fiscal year
By Ellie Kaufman, CNN
(CNN) -- The US military met its recruitment targets for full-time service members for the 2021 fiscal year, which ran from October 2020 to the end of September 2021, but had a more difficult time attracting National Guard and reserve recruits during the same period, according to Pentagon data.
The Army's active-duty force exceeded its goal of adding 57,500 members by 106 people, with a final total of 57,606 new recruits. The Navy's active-duty force also exceeded its goal of adding 33,400 members, recruiting 33,559 new members by the end of September 2021.
Army Reserve, National Guard and Navy Reserve forces did not meet their goals during the same time period. The Army National Guard missed its goal of adding 42,957 new members by over 8,000, adding 34,658 recruits.
Air National Guard and Reserve as well as Marine Corps Reserve forces exceeded their goals by a few hundred for each component, the data showed.
But the latest available figures from October and November 2021 show most services did not meet their recruitment goals, apart from the Marine Corps active-duty and reserve components and well as the Air Force active-duty forces.
"The Service recruiting commands continue to make adjustments as necessary and explore innovative ways to inform youth and influencers of the benefits of military service," Department of Defense spokesperson Lisa Lawrence told CNN in an email.
The US Army didn't meet its goal of recruiting 10,400 new members for the active-duty force by several thousand, only recruiting 7,340 new members in October and November 2021. The Army recently announced it is offering a bonus of up to $50,000, the largest amount ever, to some new recruits who enlist for six years.
"This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army," Brig. Gen. John Cushing, deputy commanding general for operations at the US Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), said in a statement. "We've taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis."
The incentive for new recruits ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 for certain jobs the Army needs filled quickly or that are difficult to fill because of qualifications needed, the USAREC said. There are also "quick ship" bonuses for those who are prepared to head to Basic Combat Training within 90 days ranging from $2,000 to $9,000.
Military leaders from the Department of Defense, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps sounded the alarm during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, warning members of Congress that if they do not pass the proposed defense budget for the upcoming year, it will severely hurt ongoing recruiting efforts in all services even more, adding onto impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The war for talent, that is the world today, they're not going to wait," US Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger said during the hearing on Wednesday. "The recruiter level, the bottom level, they're going to try to hold onto their goal and tell them to wait, wait, wait, and the high school graduates, the college graduates are not going to be able to wait, so a year from now, in other words when we do have appropriations and we can afford to start recruiting in the quality we need, the quality won't be there."
Congress has until February 18 to pass appropriations bills or to pass another continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels without adjusting anything based on the Department's recommendations.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the US military met its targets to recruit full-time troops in the 2021 fiscal year.
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