The United States Army is continuing to struggle to find new recruits to fill gaps in its ranks, recently, they announced the first ever “quick ship” bonus of $25,000 – regardless of the career field. The bonus is being offered to those who are able to ship to basic training within 30 days of signing a four-year contract.
“Recruiting in the current environment is a challenge, and we have positions we need to fill right now,” said Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who leads the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC). “Our Army is counting on us to fill these training vacancies quickly, so we are able to offer incentives to gain interest in critical career fields.”
The Army announced that all career fields with vacancies qualify for the shipping bonus. Previously, the quick ship bonus had only been open to certain career fields. However, the service is struggling to fill the ranks, and as a result, this new amendment will allow more recruits to take advantage of the bonus. An additional change to the quick ship bonus is future soldiers who joined under the delayed entry program can renegotiate their contract.
“Future Soldiers who have enlisted and are shipping in July, August or September are authorized to renegotiate their contract to ship earlier but they are limited to the training seats available,” added Patricia Crowe, USAREC Enlistment Eligibility Processing Division chief. “For instance, a future Soldier who selected infantry as a career field and enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program in May, with a ship date of 6 September, can now renegotiate their contract. They will select a military occupational specialty that is open with the availability to ship in the next 30 days. This would authorize them a $25,000 bonus.”
The Army also noted that the quick ship bonus would be in addition to other incentives already being offered for certain career fields. Currently, applicants have the potential to receive up to $50,000 total in combined enlistment incentives, while they can also receive other standard Army benefits, which can include housing allowances, health coverage, college tuition, and family support services.
Recruiter Assignments Extended
Because the service is facing a shortfall in recruits, Army recruiters could have their assignments involuntarily extended, possibly for months. According to an internal memo from early June, USAREC warned that it could not continue its mission to recruit 60,000 new active-duty soldiers by October – the end of the current fiscal year (FY) – without the involuntary extensions to recruiter assignments.
There are currently 5,319 active-duty Army recruiters, and typically, a noncommissioned officer who elects to be a recruiter will have the assignment for roughly three years. Military.com reported that as of Tuesday, the U.S. Army had selected 267 “high performing” recruiters to have their assignments involuntarily extended.
“Based on the current challenges we face, the recruiting mission for Fiscal Year 2022 led to the decision to extend selected Recruiting NCOs through both the conclusion of the Fiscal Year 2022 mission and into the initial months of the Fiscal Year 2023 mission, in order to develop momentum going into the next accessions mission cycle,” Brian McGovern, USAREC spokesperson said via a statement.
McGovern added that as Army is facing greater challenges in meeting recruiting missions in the current post-Covid 19 “recruiting environment,” and as a result, the service will extend experienced high-performing Recruiting NCOs to aid in meeting the challenges.
Targeting a New Generation
The shortfall of recruits comes even as the Army’s 2023 budget has called for a reduction in the size of the force, from 1,010,500 to 998,600 soldiers. Currently, the majority of military recruits come from just eight states, including California, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas.
The Army has struggled to reach “Generation Z,” or those born between 1997 and 2012. Part of the blame could be in how the service has utilized social media and other online platforms. Though the Army has established a presence on Facebook, the social network is largely used by Generation X and Baby Boomers, while in April, the service launched recruiting campaign based around a BuzzFeed quiz. That platform caters more to Millennials, who are also on the older end of the spectrum for recruitment. By contrast, Gen Z is largely using TikTok, but that platform has been banned from government-issued phones due to the security concerns over its Chinese ownership.
All that means those who are good at recruiting will likely be rewarded by getting to do more of it.