In February, the Pentagon announced additional recruiting quotas for the 2017 fiscal year. Millions of dollars will be spent increasing the overall military force size by up to 13,000 personnel (separately, Trump has mentioned wanting up to 60,000 more soldiers!).
The Army alone has so far been tasked with recruiting an additional 6,000 soldiers by October 1, and to get them it plans to spend an extra $200 million on bonuses, $100 million on marketing and at least $10 million for more recruiters and processing capacity for the new recruits.
Meeting the challenge of this enormous jump in enlistment goals will be extremely difficult. Knowing this, the Army has announced that for certain jobs it will now offer two-year active-duty enlistments (normally, terms are for three or more years). After their first two years, the enlistees will be placed in the drilling reserves for two years, and then the Individual Ready Reserves.
Major General Jeffrey Snow, commanding officer of Army recruiting, says the goal of these short-term enlistments is to appeal to high school students who might not relish going straight into college after graduation. One potential problem for them, however, is that they could be called back to active duty while in the reserves. Thousands of reservists were activated and sent to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The job assignments for two-year enlistments will not require high levels of training and will be in categories like infantry, armor and field artillery. After the recruit has been in the military for a while and has been subjected to the training and indoctrination process, the Army will be able to more effectively convince the person to reenlist.
Another new Army recruiting tactic will be to offer high school juniors and seniors a special bonus for enlisting before graduation through the Army Future Soldiers Program (known as the Delayed Entry Program in other military branches). While students are in the Army FSP (which can be up to 12 months), they would accrue $500 per month in bonus money that would be paid to them after they graduate and report for training at boot camp. Legally, students in the FSP (or DEP) can change their minds and drop out before they begin training, which of course hurts recruiting success rates. The offer of this monthly-accrued bonus is an attempt to sink recruiters’ hooks deeper into their prey and make it easier to meet their quotas.
Despite these new tactics and the additional money that will be spent on selling the military to teenagers, the shrinking propensity of young people to enlist means that there is still a good chance that this will be the year when recruiting shortfalls return and plague the military.
Information sources: “Army to spend $300 million on bonuses and ads to get 6,000 more recruits,” USA Today, February 12, 2017; “Army offers bonus to 2018 high school senior,” http://www.knoe.com/
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/).