Army Fights Awareness Gap Among Potential Recruits

Army Fights Awareness Gap Among Potential Recruits

Soldiers with a drone recruiting
Photo by: U.S. Army/Amy Stork

Facing a challenging recruiting environment, the Army must increase young people’s awareness of military life and prioritize recruit quality, a panel of leaders said during an Army Training and Doctrine Command webinar. 

“The Army’s No. 1 priority … is making sure we can recruit and field the force that we need for our Army and our nation,” Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command, said during the Feb. 15 webinar titled “Maintaining the All-Volunteer Force.” 

Awareness is a challenge for Army recruiting, said Maj. Gen. Johnny Davis, commanding general of Army Recruiting Command. “I’ve talked with thousands of young adults across the nation. I’ve noticed some awareness questions that really caught me off guard, like ‘Hey, I was told that until I finish basic training and Advanced Individual Training, I can’t get paid,’ or ‘[I can’t] own a pet as a soldier,’ and certainly all of these things are not true,” Davis said. “We’re really bringing that awareness to this future market.” 

Service-eligible individuals today are less likely to be familiar with the military compared to previous generations. Just over one in 10 young people today said they “share a lot in common with the military,” and young people in 2017 were twice less likely to have a parent who served, compared with 1995, according to DoD surveys. 

The recruiting mission is vital to national security, Davis said. “It’s everything. It's all about manning the force. It's all about national security. It's all about protecting the nation,” he said. “I think we all understand that it's a challenging environment.”

However, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville also has been very vocal in his guidance, Davis said. “Quality over quantity,” he said. 

Davis highlighted several new Army programs aimed at boosting recruiting. They include the Soldier Referral Program, which offers promotion incentives to soldiers who lead people to join the Army, and the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, which helps recruits to improve their test scores or physical fitness prior to basic training. 

He also urged soldiers to continue sharing their Army story. “As a soldier, just tell your story of what you’re learning each and every day, serving this very nation,” he said. “There’s no particular hidden, secret password to bringing in the next superstar into uniform. They just need to understand … that, hey, service is powerful.” 

Gervais agreed. In the Army, “you're going to be more than you ever imagined because of the things you’re going to get to do [and] the people you get to serve with,” she said. “It’s just going to be an unbelievable journey.” 

The webinar is available here.