The US military missed its recruitment goals for almost all the services in 2021, according to data from the Department of Defense.
The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on the "recruiting enterprise," the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The Army and Navy fell short in meeting their goals in active-duty, reserve and Army National Guard components, the data showed. The Air Force National Guard and Reserve also missed their targets.
The US Marine Corps was the only service that exceeded its recruitment goals in both active duty and reserve components. The Air Force and Space Force active-duty components also met its goals, with Space Force hitting its exact goal of adding 99 members, and Air Force exceeding its goal by two people to gain 4,131 members by the end of November 2021.
"The Service recruiting commands continue to make adjustments as necessary and explore innovative ways to inform youth and influencers of the benefits of military service," Department of Defense spokesperson Lisa Lawrence told CNN in an email.
The US Army didn't meet its goal of recruiting 10,400 new members for the active-duty force by several thousand, only recruiting 7,340 new members by the end of November 2021. The Army recently announced it is offering a bonus of up to $50,000, the largest amount ever, to some new recruits who enlist for six years.
"This is an opportunity to entice folks to consider the Army," Brig. Gen. John Cushing, deputy commanding general for operations at the US Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), said in a statement. "We've taken a look at the critical (military occupational specialties) we need to fill in order to maintain the training bases, and that is where we place a lot of our emphasis."
The incentive for new recruits ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 for certain jobs the Army needs filled quickly or that are difficult to fill because of qualifications needed, the USAREC said. There are also "quick ship" bonuses for those who are prepared to head to Basic Combat Training within 90 days ranging from $2,000 to $9,000.
Military leaders from the Department of Defense, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps sounded the alarm during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, warning members of Congress that if they do not pass the proposed defense budget for the upcoming year, it will severely hurt ongoing recruiting efforts in all services even more, adding onto impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The war for talent, that is the world today, they're not going to wait," US Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger said during the hearing on Wednesday. "The recruiter level, the bottom level, they're going to try to hold onto their goal and tell them to wait, wait, wait, and the high school graduates, the college graduates are not going to be able to wait, so a year from now, in other words when we do have appropriations and we can afford to start recruiting in the quality we need, the quality won't be there."
Congress has until February 18 to pass appropriations bills or to pass another continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels without adjusting anything based on the Department's recommendations.
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