The Army plans to spend $300 million in a blitz of bonuses and advertising over the next eight months to recruit 6,000 additional soldiers it needs to fill out its ranks.
Legislation approved by Congress and signed late last year by former president Barack Obama halted a years-long drawdown of U.S. troops. Rising threats around the world have spurred the increase. The Army’s new goal for the remaining eight months of the fiscal year is 68,500, up from 62,500 recruits. The addition of 6,000 recruits to the goal makes it the largest in-year increase in the history of the all-volunteer force that dates to 1973.
Rapidly growing the Army also has come at a different type of cost in the past: lower standards for recruits produced sub-par soldiers. Many had to be culled after training. That won’t happen this time, said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, who leads Army Recruiting Command.
“There is very clear guidance from the leadership in our conversations that there is no desire to lower standards,” Snow said.
By Oct. 1, the Army must hit its target of 476,000 active duty soldiers, up from the previous goal of 460,000. Increased recruiting along with retention of more soldiers will make up the gap. President Trump has said he wants an even larger force — as many as 60,000 more soldiers.
The Air Force and Navy also are boosting their ranks. The Air Force plans to recruit and retain more airmen to meet its goal of 321,000 service members by Oct. 1, up 4,000 from its current total of 317,000, said Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman. The Navy plans to add 2,200 recruits this fiscal year, according to Lt. Cdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman. The Navy has a target of 323,900 sailors for this year. The Marine Corps will add nearly 800 additional Marines this year to hit its target of 185,000, said Yvonne Carlock, a Marine spokeswoman.