‘Swimming Upstream:’ Air Force Looks To Miss 2023 Recruiting Goals

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Alyssa Blakemore Contributor
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The Air Force’s struggle to attract new airmen means the service might miss its recruitment goals this year, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Tuesday.

Kendall cited a declining interest in serving as a primary factor contributing to 2023 projections, according to

“We are currently projecting about a 10% shortfall this year in the active Air Force and more in the Guard and Reserve,” Kendall said at the Air and Space Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Colorado. “We are swimming upstream against reduced propensity to serve nationally across the board and a limited percentage of qualified candidates.”

The Air Force just barely made its recruitment goal for 2022, while the Army’s recruitment plunged last year. Across the services, finding recruits who could meet physical and intellectual requirements for joining proved difficult last year, the outlet noted. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Reps Demand Army Release Full Results Of Recruiting Study, Allege Leaders ‘Cherry Picked’ Data)

Air Force recruiters set their sights on drawing 26,877 new airmen in fiscal year 2023, an increase of 700 from last year’s goal, Air Force Times reported. Efforts to boost recruitment last year included lowered standards for entry across all branches of service, including the physical and mental standards required for joining.

As a means of boosting recruitment, the Air Force began allowing recruits who test positive for THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, to enlist after waiting a month and re-testing.

While retention remains strong, recruitment looks grim, reported. “We need this community to help spread the word to America’s youth that there are great opportunities in the U.S. military, especially in the Air Force, Space Force — in all components: Active, Guard and reserve,” Kendall urged listeners Tuesday.