Army National Guard Makes Recruiting Gains

Army National Guard Makes Recruiting Gains

Photo by: U.S. Army National Guard/Staff Sgt. Chazz Kibler

Amid a tough recruiting environment, the Army National Guard is pleased with its recruiting and retention efforts across the country, leaders from the component said.

“This has been a good year for us so far in the recruiting environment. We’re up 11% in enlistments since the last fiscal year,” said Col. Josh Barrow, commander of the Washington Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Command. “We’re still in an uphill battle here, in terms of winning the war on talent, but I’m excited for the future and … where we’re headed.”

The Army “has a renewed focus” on recruiting in “high volume areas,” Barrow said during a June 21 National Guard media roundtable.

Last year, the Army Guard missed its 2022 recruiting goal by about 12,000 recruits and was 6,000 people below its authorized end strength of 336,000, according to an Army news release.

This year, however, the Guard’s recruiting numbers are rebounding. Between January and March, Army Guard recruiting increased by 26%, according to an article from the National Guard Association of the United States.

The Guard is getting creative as it works toward its 2023 recruiting goals, said Staff Sgt. Yoon Kim, a recruiter with the Illinois National Guard’s Woodstock Recruit Sustainment Program, which helps prepare recruits for basic combat training.

In Illinois, the Army National Guard has been using “unique and targeted” recruiting and marketing efforts as an approachable way to connect with community members, Kim said. “We just had a huge … initiative, which [used] QR codes that we’re able to utilize to create [more] ... leads that we can get in events,” she said.

Despite the growing gap between young Americans and military service, the Guard is working hard to meet Americans where they are, Kim said. “Recruiters in our team have a realistic conversation [with potential future soldiers] on what … different forms of service [could look like],” she said. “I think it's been really helpful for these young men or women to come to [see] how flexible and how inspiring their service could be.”

The Guard has a leg up as the Army works to reintroduce itself to service-eligible individuals.

“One of the great things that makes the National Guard … unique is we’re grassroots. We’re in the communities, [and] we're from the communities where we're living and recruiting out of,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Abbate, senior enlisted leader for the New York National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Command. “... Through the COVID pandemic, … we didn’t have to ever reintroduce ourselves to the community because we were in it.”