The U.S. Army will not meet its mission to recruit 80,000 active duty soldiers this year and has officially lowered that goal. But Army leaders said the service has been able to encourage more experienced service members to stay on the job to satisfy a growing demand for troops.
Army Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey said Friday that the updated goal will be 76,500. Six months into the recruiting year, the service has brought in just 28,000 new soldiers. Army officials are expected to provide more details on the issue later Friday.
Dailey said the goal is to grow the Army to 483,500, as approved by Congress, and it’s up to the Army whether to use more recruiting or re-enlistment. He said that retaining current soldiers has been more successful this year than in the past, with 86 percent staying on, compared with 81 percent in previous years.
Army Secretary Mark Esper said there is a mismatch between the number of soldiers in the Army and the demand for more troops, and acknowledged that the “strong economy does make it challenging.” He said, however, that the Army will not sacrifice quality for quantity and that standards will not be lowered to meet recruiting goals.
The struggle to meet this year’s higher recruiting numbers — a significant increase over last year’s mission of 69,000 — was expected, mainly due to the favorable American economy and increased competition from private sector employers who are able to pay graduates more money.