George: Army Recruiting ‘Doing Better’ This Year

George: Army Recruiting ‘Doing Better’ This Year

Recruits taking an oath
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Jared Simmons

The Army’s battle to meet its recruiting goal continues to be a priority, but the challenge to fill the ranks with new soldiers has not slowed readiness, a senior officer said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George outlined the Army’s efforts as it transforms to stay ahead of potential adversaries around the world and acknowledged that recruiting is a “critical readiness priority for us right now.”

“We are challenged by the fact that a small number of young Americans, 23%, are qualified to serve; fewer still, we're finding, are interested in serving, and that's something that we are working very hard to change,” George said at the April 19 hearing in which he testified alongside his counterparts from the other services. On April 20, George was nominated to be the next Army chief of staff. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

“Our Army remains a great place to be, and I think our high retention rates speak to that. The trouble is many Americans don’t realize it or believe it,” George said during the hearing, noting that rather than a “life setback,” the Army is a “life accelerator,” as was his experience when he enlisted as a private right out of high school.

Following a recruiting goal shortfall last year of about 15,000, George projected that this year’s goal of 65,000 by Sept. 30 could fall short by about 10,000 recruits.

“We’re doing better than we were doing. I would say right now we’re probably projecting to be about 55,000,” George told the panel, explaining that the Army set a recruiting goal of 65,000 new soldiers this year, which was higher than last year’s goal of 60,000.

Despite the recruiting challenge, the Army continues to transform and prepare for a battle in which all domains will be contested, George said. The service also is supporting combatant commands with ready formations around the world, strengthening partnerships with the defense industry and modernizing the organic industrial base to increase production, George said.

“We are deterring the pacing challenge, China, by exercising and campaigning across the Indo-Pacific theater and holding the line in the European theater alongside our NATO partners, all the while adapting in real time to lessons learned from the war in Ukraine,” George said, adding that those lessons are being quickly incorporated into Army doctrine and training.

Today’s readiness posture is strong, but not enough for the future, George said, which is why the Army is transforming, modernizing and “building the team” for commanders.

The Army is “a great team with an important mission and ample opportunity to learn, grow and make an impact,” George said. “We have to get that story out, and we’re pouring all of our energy into that effort, and we appreciate Congress’ assistance in amplifying our call to service message.”