Ambitious Growth Sought in Troop Strength

Ambitious Growth Sought in Troop Strength

Photo by: U.S. Army National Guard/Spc. Stephanie Rodriguez

Army leaders have an ambitious initiative to grow the total force to 976,000 soldiers by 2028 through dramatic improvements in Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve recruiting.

This goal would leave the Army slightly short of the 1 million uniformed members it had in 2022.

Coming at a time when the Army faces major recruiting challenges, the five-year plan envisions a $389 million marketing and advertising effort and a $12.8 million expansion of the Future Soldier Preparatory Course. The course, created in August, has shown success in improving the mental and physical fitness of prospects who fall just a little short of meeting the Army’s enlistment standards.

The Army’s five-year plan also includes a combination of financial and assignment choice incentives for recruits and convincing currently serving soldiers to remain in uniform.

The plan also calls for spending $289 million more on Army Recruiting Command operations and overhauling how recruiters are selected and trained.

In the short term, the Army is getting smaller. The target troop strength for fiscal 2024 is 951,800—452,000 in the active Army, 325,000 in the Army National Guard and 174,800 in the Army Reserve.

Having a smaller force is not Army leaders’ choice, but it’s what is achievable at a time when recruiting is difficult. “There are significant uncertainties regarding the recruiting market,” said Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo. “It did not take one year to get into this situation. It will take several years to get us out of it.”

The Army’s clear “desire” is to get bigger, Camarillo said. This is not an Army-only problem. “We are not alone,” he said, noting that the other services have similar recruiting challenges.

“We are fundamentally improving our recruiting enterprise,” Camarillo said. “It will take time to get there.”