For the first time since 2005, the US Army missed its recruiting goal this year, falling short by about 6,500 soldiers, despite pouring an extra $200 million into bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues, the AP reports. Army leaders said they signed up about 70,000 new active-duty recruits in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30—well short of the 76,500 they needed. The Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps all met their recruiting goals for 2018. The Army's shortfall, says Maj. Gen. Joe Calloway, was fueled by the strong American economy and increased competition from private sector employers who can pay more. But the failure has triggered an overhaul in Army recruiting, including an increase in recruiters, expanded marketing, and a new effort to reach out to young, potential recruits through popular online gaming.
Calloway says there were several thousand permanent legal residents seeking to enlist, but they did not get through the screening process in time. The recruiting struggles come at the end of a tumultuous year for the Army, which faced questions from Congress over its expanded use of waivers for recruits with previous marijuana use, bad conduct, and some health problems. In addition to the Army competing with the private sector, there just aren't that many potential recruits: Only about 30 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds meet the physical, mental and moral requirements for the military, and only one in eight are interested in serving.