Army to 'Aggressively Attack' Potential Recruiting Shortfalls
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 6, 2005 The Army fell short of its recruiting goals for the first part of this year, but the service is working to improve the situation, the Defense Department's top personnel official said here April 5.
"We do not expect to see improvement in the Army recruiting situation during the traditionally challenging February-March-April-May recruiting season," Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee. For now, it appears that only the Army is having difficulty meeting its goals, he said.
Through February of fiscal 2005, "all services except the Army continued to meet or exceed quantity and quality objectives," Chu said. Preliminary figures suggest the Army missed its March goal for active duty enlisted accessions by about 2,100 soldiers, he added.
Chu said the Army is "aggressively attacking" any potential shortfall through several "avenues of approach." Those avenues include adding as many as 250 more active recruiters over the next 60 days and offering stronger incentives, such as increases in enlistment bonuses and the Army College Fund. Furthermore, the military plans to target advertising, "focusing on influencers, particularly parents," he said.
"With the Army aggressively shifting resources to respond to recruiting challenges, we are cautiously optimistic that it will achieve its year-end recruiting and end-strength goals," he said.
Chu also predicted recruiting woes for the National Guard and Reserve, telling the committee that the "first five months of this fiscal year, we are facing a very challenging recruiting environment in the reserve components."
"The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve are at risk of falling short of their recruiting objectives," he said.
Chu said Guard and Reserve leaders are addressing the shortfall of recruits in much the same way as the active component, through "aggressive use" of enhanced recruiting and retention incentives and large increases in recruiting forces.
He said the Army National Guard is adding 1,400 recruiters, for a total recruiting force of 4,100. The Army Reserve is adding 734 recruiters, for a total force of 1,774. The Army also is detailing 250 of its recruiters until Reserve recruiters can be trained.
Still, despite recruiting challenges, Chu told the committee that the Defense Department will reach its end-strength goals for the next fiscal year.
"We continue to work with Congress to achieve needed military pay raises and to develop flexible and discretionary compensation programs. We have every confidence that funding and policy modifications will be sufficient to ensure continued success in achieving authorized strength levels," he said.
In the meantime, Chu said, to help the Army meet its end-strength numbers the service will have to continue use of the current "stop loss" program, which keeps affected soldiers in service beyond their scheduled discharge dates. "The Army will terminate stop loss as soon as it is operationally feasible," he said.
In January 2005, stop loss programs affected 6,657 active soldiers, 3,016 Army Reserve soldiers, and 2,680 Army National Guard soldiers, Chu said.
He added that Army initiatives, such as increasing modularity, restructuring and rebalancing the active/reserve component mix, and stabilizing the force will eliminate the need for stop loss over time.
"Until those initiatives are fully implemented," Chu said, "stop loss must continue if we are to meet strength, readiness and cohesion objectives for units deploying to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom."