For the first time since 2005, the U.S. Army failed to meet its goal of recruiting 76,500 new soldiers. The best they were able to accomplish was approximately 70,000 — short by more than 6,000. The Army believes that the shortfall is due to the strong American economy and increased competition from private-sector employers who can pay more may have something to do with it.
According to Major General Joe Calloway “in the last three years, Army recruiters have brought in 3,000-5,000 more enlistees than planned during the last three months of the fiscal year.” The same cannot be said of this year. Even the Army’s attempts to reach recruits that might not otherwise be reached, through things like video gaming, did not quite pan out the way they had hoped.
Further attempts to recruit
Video gaming is not the only attempt the Army has made to increase the number of recruits. Although the Army has denied it to Congress (and Congress has remained suspicious), there is good reason to believe that the expanded use of waivers for recruits with previous marijuana use, bad conduct and some health problems is all related to the fear of lowered Army sign-ups.
According to CBS News, there are “concerns that the service would repeat mistakes made during the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars more than a decade ago when it rushed to add soldiers to the ranks to meet deployment needs.”
The U.S. Army has struggled to recruit soldiers during a time of record-low unemployment rates and amidst an increase in private companies willing to pay more to graduating seniors. Furthermore, only about 30 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds meet the physical, mental and moral requirements for the military, and only one in eight are interested in serving. As CBS News reports: “Finding those few is a challenge.”
An unexpected but not altogether surprising result of the strong economy is the inability of the Army to attract recruits. The U.S. Army will have to get creative if they want to meet recruiting goals moving forward in an increasingly difficult economic climate for recruiting.
One method that they are using is their new game-immersion tactic. They are placing recruiters into popular gaming contests such as Ultimate Fighter, Madden Football and the addictive Fortnite: Battle Royale, an online survival game. The goal, Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command said to CBS News, is to have recruiters in uniform playing games in tournaments, and reaching out to their target audience.
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