Services Expect to Make Fiscal 2000 Recruiting Goals
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2000 After three years of missing their numbers, DoD expects the services to make the fiscal 2000 recruiting goals.
Vice Adm. Pat Tracey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, said the services are doing a better job of signing up recruits.
This fiscal year would be the first since 1997 all services make their goals. In fiscal 1998, the Navy missed recruited 48,429 sailors when plans called for 55,321. The Army missed its fiscal 1998 goal, recruiting 71,733 soldiers when they needed 72,550.
In fiscal 1999, the Army and Air Force failed to make their goals. In that year the Army made 92 percent of its recruiting goal -- 74,500 needed, 68,209 recruited. The Air Force made 95 percent -- 34,400 needed 32,673 recruited.
The Navy and Army "have a fairly large number of contracts to write for the rest of the fiscal year, but they both expect to meet their requirements for the year," Tracey said during an Aug. 8 Pentagon news conference. The Navy's retention and attrition rates are better than expected, "so they may be able to adjust downward the number of recruits they have to bring in, which is also good news." The Navy goal is 56,600 recruits.
She said the Army had a better July than anticipated. She said she remains optimistic the service can make its fiscal 2000 recruiting goal of "shipping" 80,000 recruits.
Marine Corps officials report they will make their goal of 33,367 recruits. The Air Force has announced it has already signed up enough people to make its goal of 34,600 this fiscal year.
Tracey said retention and recruiting go hand-in-hand. By retaining more experienced petty officers than it anticipated, for example, the Navy needed fewer recruits. All services, she said, are in a "steady-state mode."
"We are replacing losses on a basically one-for-one basis in the services now," she said.
The toughest career fields for retention are information technology, communications and airplane mechanics. These skills are needed in the civilian sector, and the military is competing against private firms for these specialties. However, she said, retention is tough for mid-grade leaders of almost any skill.
"They're being hired for their leadership skills," she said. Private firms value mid-level NCOs and officers for their "experience at motivating and leading troops."
"I hate to say this, but I lost a captain out of my organization who was hired away to run a software development shop," Tracey said. "He had zero computer skills, trust me, but he was hired because he was a leader. And he's doing great.
"And that's probably the place where we will face unending competition, because we really do turn people into pretty phenomenal leaders at a very, very young age."