Army recruiting reform rolling along into 2024

by Tommy Grant

As the Army’s recruiting struggles continue into the new year, the timeline remains vague on some of the service’s promised reforms.

The reform’s major efforts, detailed to Army Times in an exclusive interview with Army Secretary Christine Wormuth in the fall, include:

  • Establishing new specialized enlisted and warrant officer recruiting career fields that will replace the existing 79R MOS and eventually abolish involuntary recruiting assignments.
  • Formally increasing recruiters’ mandate to woo prospective soldiers with college education, due to the shrinking proportion of workforce members who have only a high school education.
  • Integrating effective data analysis to support recruiting policy decisions after the study group found the service has failed to verify whether historical changes were effective.
  • Reassigning Recruiting Command to report directly to Wormuth, and raising its commanding general rank to a three-star level and extending the command tour length to four years.
  • Reassigning the Army Enterprise Marketing Office and Army Cadet Command to report to Recruiting Command.
  • Creating an experimentation directorate within Recruiting Command that is insulated from current-year production pressure.

Although some of the major changes will take time to fully implement, others are effectively underway, such as the organizational chart changes. Experts and former top officials said the reorganized Recruiting Command will look similar to Accessions Command, a three-star headquarters that was eliminated in 2012 as part of wide-reaching budget cuts.

The wide-ranging overhaul came after the service studied its recruiting performance and structures, ultimately finding its performance had steadily declined due to shifts in the labor market and a tendency to double down on existing practices in tough times rather than changing them. That’s why intermediate measures to boost recruiting and marketing — such as the Future Soldier Prep Course and the return of the “Be all you can be” slogan amid a marketing rebirth — were unable to reverse the recruiting slide. The Army missed its recruiting goal again in fiscal year 2023.

But even though new recruiting practices are on the horizon, the Army has run into problems sourcing enough recruiters to keep the ranks filled in the interim. The service apologized in November after sending no-notice involuntary recruiting school orders to hundreds of soldiers. It has also boosted incentives for new recruiters, including accelerated promotion opportunities and bonus pay.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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