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Officials Optimistic About Making Recruiting Goals

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Maj. Robert Fellingham
Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Army expects to meet its end strength goal of 485,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of this fiscal year even as it continues to adjust to recruiting, retaining and training soldiers in a COVID-19 environment, senior leaders said.

“We’ve aligned our resources, we’ve aligned our plans, and that’s coming to bear when we hit our end strength of 485,000 soldiers,” Casey Wardynski, assistant Army secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, said June 17 during a call with reporters.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Army recruiters to work from home and rely on social media and other virtual recruiting efforts to connect with prospective soldiers. The Army also reduced the number of new soldiers shipping to basic training while commanders put in place health and safety measures.

But those efforts are now ramping up as recruiters do more face-to-face recruiting, and retention is higher than expected.

At one point, the Army was only shipping 50% of its typical number of new soldiers to training sites, said Gen. Paul Funk, commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command. “We’re at 100% shipping for the last couple of weeks now,” he said.

Since April, the Army has moved 23,000 soldiers through the training base—about 13,000 from basic training to advanced individual training, and about 10,000 to their first units of assignment, Funk said.

“We’ve done that in the COVID environment, focused like a laser beam to make sure we can keep those security bubbles as we move through the process,” Funk said.

Those efforts include screening and testing soldiers and social distancing measures.

“The bottom line on our training is we understand how to do this, we’ve taken on this virus and molded our processes and procedures to units around the world,” he said.

Looking ahead to the Sept. 30 end of this fiscal year, the Army is launching a three-day hiring campaign with the goal of bringing in 10,000 new soldiers.

Army National Hiring Days will take place June 30-July 2.  

“We were very lucky to have a heavy presence on social media” at the outset of the pandemic, said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, commander of Army Recruiting Command. But as recruiters resume working in recruiting stations, they have some catching up to do, he said.

“Are we behind? Yes, we are … but we’re close, and we’ve got momentum going,” he said.

For example, Recruiting Command typically hits 90% to 92% of its requirements in June. This year, it was at 80%—lower than usual but good for a force grappling with a pandemic, Muth said.

“Army National Hiring Days is to allow for us to get and make up that ground,” he said.

Muth will discuss Army National Hiring Days on The AUSA Noon Report June 23. The livestream event is free, but registration is required. Click here for more information or to register.