Army’s Last-Ditch Effort To Bring On New Recruiters Falls Flat Despite Added Perks

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The Army’s last-ditch effort to fill empty seats at recruiter school starting Monday fell short — despite incentives offered at the last minute, a spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Army’s human resources branch sent out orders to some non-commissioned officers (NCOs) just days before they would be required to report at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for the next Army Recruiter Course starting Nov. 6., the DCNF reported on Nov. 1. Out of 200 students reserved to participate in that class, just 132 arrived, Maj. Shahin Uddin, public affairs adviser for the deputy chief of staff for Personnel at the Pentagon, said Monday.

The Army has missed recruiting goals by thousands over the past two years, resorting to cutting parts of the force in a bid to economize on manpower. To make sure slots for the next class of future recruiters are filled, USAREC lowered entrance standards and rolled out last-minute financial and career incentives, officials previously told the DCNF.

Army’s Recruiting Command (USAREC) set a goal of 200 students for the Nov. 6 class and 200 additional students for another class beginning on the 13th, Uddin said.

He did not say why the shortfall occurred, but added that students are evaluated on a case-by-case basis taking into account personal and life circumstances. Selected NCOs must go through background checks and suitability processing before beginning the course, and not all of them are considered fit to become recruiters. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Reps Demand Army Release Full Results Of Recruiting Study, Allege Leaders ‘Cherry Picked’ Data)

An unforeseen shortage of volunteers to fill 800 slots at the U.S. Army Recruiting & Retention College by the end of the calendar year compelled USAREC to send out last-minute orders, Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, the Army’s personnel head, confirmed to the DCNF on Wednesday. Some NCOs were notified possibly from Oct. 27 and later.

To ensure slots for the next class of future recruiters are filled, USAREC lowered entrance standards and rolled out last-minute incentives, officials told the DCNF. Sergeants who participate in November or December will get a no-questions-asked promotion to Staff Sergeant upon graduation, regardless of their time in service or other qualifications, according to a Nov. 1 memo obtained by the DCNF.

They’ll still be required to complete advanced leader courses at some point, Sgt. Maj. Christopher Stevens, the top enlisted soldier for personnel, explained to the DCNF on Wednesday. If they are a staff sergeant and get 24 contracts within their first year as a recruiter, they’ll get a guaranteed promotion to Sergeant First Class.

Separately, NCOs who volunteer to attend recruiter school by the end of February will get a one-time $5,000 benefit upon graduation, Stevens said at the time.

Of the 132 students in the Nov. 6 recruiter course, 33 are sergeants and will be automatically promoted to Staff Sergeant upon graduation, Uddin told the DCNF.

Uddin said a one-time $5,000 bonus incentives will be given to all soldiers in the Nov. 6 class, suggesting each student came from volunteers rather than being selected.

“Out of the 200 students that had reservations for the 06 NOV class 132 arrived. All students for the NOV classes will receive the $5000 bonus,” Uddin said in a statement. “NCOs that are currently SGTs will be promoted to SSG upon graduation from the Army Recruiting Course, currently there are 33 SGTs attending the 06 NOV [Army Recruiter Course].”

One NCO who was given just one week to report to the Nov. 6 class initially attempted to decline orders due to family circumstances, and then was told the orders would be deleted, the soldier told the DCNF. The Army later notified the NCO that orders would be deferred instead.

“Literally Monday, I show up to work, an hour later, I have a very nonchalant email. We called USAREC and they said that they were expecting around half of the people selected to not be able to show,” the NCO told the DCNF, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the matter.

Other orders were canceled following media coverage and intervention from local chains of command. Backlash against the last-minute orders led the department to defer students selected for the December courses to January, reported.

Stitt previously told the DCNF an uptick in no-shows to the recruiter course contributed to the unexpected shortfall for the November and December cohorts, triggering a mad dash to bring on more involuntary participants than the service initially planned for.

The Army Recruiter Course has the capacity to train up to 2,866 people across 53 different class runs in a fiscal year. However, in fiscal year 2023 ending Sept. 30, only 1,336 graduated, reported, citing service data.

Plummeting numbers of troops to do the difficult job of recruiting adds to the severity of the Army’s worst recruiting struggles since the beginning of the all-volunteer military. The Army fell 10,000 soldiers short of its recruiting goal for fiscal year 2023, after a 15,000 shortfall in 2022.

“We’re short 30,000 people in the active Army right now,” Stevens said at an Army livestream Saturday, reflecting the total manpower deficit across the entire service.

The Army now plans to overhaul its recruiting school in 2024 to add an additional 1,000 recruiters to the force in 2024 and run 77 classes in the fiscal year, even as other elements of the force shrink, a service spokesperson told

However, the Pentagon says it is looking at how the services treat recruiters in one line of effort to build back the shrinking military.

“Never let a crisis go wasted,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said at a Center for a New American Security event Tuesday. The recruiting crisis presents a chance to “look at the recruiting process, how we incentivize recruiters and how we treat recruiters,” she added.

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