Military Recruiting, Retention Remain Strong
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 28, 2011 Recruiting and retention remain steadily on track throughout the military services, with every component reporting strong year-to-date numbers through May and full confidence in reaching fiscal 2011 goals by Sept. 30.
All four active services and five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their year-to-date accession goals through May, defense officials reported today.
The Army reported 44,950 active-duty accessions through May 31, 102 percent of its year-to-date goal, officials said. The Army National Guard recruited 34,837 members, 101 percent of its goal; and the Army Reserve, with 20,555 accessions, topped its goal by 111 percent.
The Navy reached its accessions goals of recruiting 20,942 active-duty sailors and 5,423 Navy reservists through May, officials reported.
The Marine Corps also met its active-duty accessions goal by recruiting 14,995 Marines, and signed on 6,675 Marine Corps reservists, 110 percent of its year-to-date goal.
The Air Force met its accessions goals for active duty and the Air National Guard, recruiting 18,444 active-duty airmen and 4,529 Air National Guard members.
The Air Force Reserve recruited 6,079 members, 2 percent short of its year-to-date goal of 6,194.
Retention rates remained high throughout the services. Successful recruiting and high retention rates, along with military downsizing, has impacted the number of positions available not only to first-time recruits, but also for prior-service members wishing to return to service, Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
Because the services maintain most of their force structure with junior grades where service members are serving their first term, the services need a steady stream of new recruits to fill those slots, she explained.
Traditionally, the military services bring in prior-service recruits to address current or projected manning shortfalls that they are unable to fill through other force management tools and programs, she said.
“In today’s recruiting environment, with improved retention and greater propensity to serve, the number of specialties identified as ‘shortfalls’ is greatly reduced,” Lainez said. This, in turn, “reduces the number of opportunities for those wishing to return to duty.”
Prior-service members historically represent about 5 percent of active-duty recruits, according to Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accession policy. For fiscal 2010 that figure was down to 3 percent.
“Still, there remain opportunities in the active and reserve components for prior-service members to return,” Gilroy said.
The services identify their needs by skill and grade, and Gilroy said he encourages those who want to return to contact a recruiter to discuss what needs exist.