WASHINGTON – The Army plans to increase its investment in marketing and is expected to expand a new program for combatant recruits, but leaders on Monday offered few new details about how they will fill the ranks after widening recruitment targets this year have missed.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters that a new recruiting task force is coming up with ideas. But any new plans would need to materialize quickly to reverse last year’s dramatically low enrollment numbers.
For the fiscal year ended September 30, the Army recruited only 75% of its target – 15,000 troops fell short of the target of 60,000. It was the only service to miss its recruitment target, but everyone else has had to dig deep in their pools of delayed-entry applicants, which will set them back as the next recruitment year begins on Saturday.
When asked if the army could achieve its goal this year, Wormuth said it was too early to speculate.
Wormuth and Army chief of staff Gen. James McConville said a new program to help underperforming recruits meet academic and fitness standards showed promise. But they said there was no decision yet on expanding to three more locations in the country. Wormuth said it will depend on the results over the next month or two.
McConville added, “We want to make sure there are enough recruits who can do that. … The first results we’re seeing are that this could fundamentally change the way we do recruitment.”
During a trip to see the program in Fort Jackson, SC in August, McConville had said the program could be established at three other Army training bases. The commanders had proposed sending up to 10,000 potential recruits through the classes.
The program offers up to 90 days of academic or fitness classes to help recruits improve to the point where they can meet military standards.
Wormuth and McConville spoke to reporters on day one of the Association of the United States Army annual meeting.
On other issues, Wormuth said she is satisfied so far with the amount of ammunition and weapons systems the US is taking from Pentagon stockpiles and sending to Ukraine. There have been lingering questions about how much the US can send without compromising the combat readiness of American forces or their ability to be trained.
The US has sent hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to Ukraine to help in its fight against Russia and thousands of weapons ranging from javelins and howitzers to longer-range systems like the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
For example, a recent relief package included 75,000 rounds for the howitzer.
“We obviously have a limited supply of such systems, and that is exactly why we have put so much emphasis on increasing the production lines for these types of systems in cooperation with our industry partners,” said Wormuth.
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