Army Reserve Steps Up Retention Efforts

Army Reserve Steps Up Retention Efforts

soldiers training
Photo by: U.S. Army Reserve/Anthony L. Taylor

The Army Reserve has set long-term retention goals as it strives to keep quality soldiers in the ranks despite having missed its recruiting targets for two consecutive years, the component’s top enlisted leader said.

In remarks Dec. 13 during a webinar hosted by Association of the U.S. Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo acknowledged the Reserve missed its fiscal 2021 recruiting goal but added that there are “some positive aspects” that offset the challenge.

“With the recruiting mission, we fell short, but our retention is looking better than ever,” Lombardo said during The AUSA Noon Report.

The goal for fiscal 2021 was 189,800 soldiers, but the Reserve instead finished the year with 184,358 soldiers. In fiscal 2020, the Reserve closed out with an end strength of 188,703, just short of its goal of 189,500.

Explaining that “we actually sit pretty well in our force with both lieutenants and specialists,” Lombardo said the Reserve has 10,000 more soldiers in the rank of specialist and more than 1,200 lieutenants “than we have structures for.”

The challenge now, he said, is to grow the NCO corps and the number of company-grade officers.

“We want to go from a deficit of about 2,500 sergeants and about 800 captains to an over strength of 3,000 sergeants and 800 captains by the time we transfer to the next command team in July of 2024,” Lombardo said of the plan he and Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jody Daniels have set in motion.

To achieve this in the next 2 ½ years, he said, the Reserve is looking at how it can use initiatives such as temporary promotions, the Selected Reserve Incentive Program and bonuses of up to $20,000. It also is looking at how it works with Army Human Resources Command and the Reserve component career counselors who help active-duty soldiers transition to the Reserve.

This could include addressing leaders attending brigade and battalion pre-command courses.

“We’re trying to energize our leaders to be part of the solution, to get rid of the red tape, to provide challenging opportunities for these specialists, and maybe to give them the nudge that they need to get promoted and become a noncommissioned officer, to be invested in our organization,” he said. “I think we’re looking really good to get there this year.”

The Reserve is structured to acquire experienced soldiers who transition to the component after active service. Lombardo noted that it’s a good path for soldiers who might like to stay in the ranks and continue to enjoy the camaraderie and “the challenges that you could only get through the Army, the Army Reserve and National Guard service.”