Military Recruiting, Retention Remain Strong

WASHINGTON — Recruit­ing and reten­tion remain steadi­ly on track through­out the mil­i­tary ser­vices, with every com­po­nent report­ing strong year-to-date num­bers through May and full con­fi­dence in reach­ing fis­cal 2011 goals by Sept. 30.

All four active ser­vices and five of the six reserve com­po­nents met or exceed­ed their year-to-date acces­sion goals through May, defense offi­cials report­ed today.

The Army report­ed 44,950 active-duty acces­sions through May 31, 102 per­cent of its year-to-date goal, offi­cials said. The Army Nation­al Guard recruit­ed 34,837 mem­bers, 101 per­cent of its goal; and the Army Reserve, with 20,555 acces­sions, topped its goal by 111 per­cent.

The Navy reached its acces­sions goals of recruit­ing 20,942 active-duty sailors and 5,423 Navy reservists through May, offi­cials report­ed.

The Marine Corps also met its active-duty acces­sions goal by recruit­ing 14,995 Marines, and signed on 6,675 Marine Corps reservists, 110 per­cent of its year-to-date goal.

The Air Force met its acces­sions goals for active duty and the Air Nation­al Guard, recruit­ing 18,444 active-duty air­men and 4,529 Air Nation­al Guard mem­bers.

The Air Force Reserve recruit­ed 6,079 mem­bers, 2 per­cent short of its year-to-date goal of 6,194.

Reten­tion rates remained high through­out the ser­vices. Suc­cess­ful recruit­ing and high reten­tion rates, along with mil­i­tary down­siz­ing, has impact­ed the num­ber of posi­tions avail­able not only to first-time recruits, but also for pri­or-ser­vice mem­bers wish­ing to return to ser­vice, Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman Eileen Lainez said.

Because the ser­vices main­tain most of their force struc­ture with junior grades where ser­vice mem­bers are serv­ing their first term, the ser­vices need a steady stream of new recruits to fill those slots, she explained.

Tra­di­tion­al­ly, the mil­i­tary ser­vices bring in pri­or-ser­vice recruits to address cur­rent or pro­ject­ed man­ning short­falls that they are unable to fill through oth­er force man­age­ment tools and pro­grams, she said.

“In today’s recruit­ing envi­ron­ment, with improved reten­tion and greater propen­si­ty to serve, the num­ber of spe­cial­ties iden­ti­fied as ’short­falls’ is great­ly reduced,” Lainez said. This, in turn, “reduces the num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties for those wish­ing to return to duty.”

Pri­or-ser­vice mem­bers his­tor­i­cal­ly rep­re­sent about 5 per­cent of active-duty recruits, accord­ing to Cur­tis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s direc­tor of acces­sion pol­i­cy. For fis­cal 2010 that fig­ure was down to 3 per­cent.

“Still, there remain oppor­tu­ni­ties in the active and reserve com­po­nents for pri­or-ser­vice mem­bers to return,” Gilroy said.

The ser­vices iden­ti­fy their needs by skill and grade, and Gilroy said he encour­ages those who want to return to con­tact a recruiter to dis­cuss what needs exist.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)