Military recruitment continues to suffer

By Peter Pottorff
April 27, 2020

Seal of the United States Marine Corps, public domain
Seal of the United States Marine Corps, public domain

The recruitment for the armed forces has shifted to an online only approach in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States military has felt the crunch in recent weeks, already suffering a shortage of soldiers for the Army by 800 recruits of their goal in 2019 for 76,000  and the other branches are relatively stable.


United States Army logo, Public Domain

Military recruitment in recent years has always had some difficulty. There is a balance between fresh recruits, filling the slots of those who have fallen in duty to their country, those who are retiring and the others who are unfit to serve anymore.

Usually, there is the use of sign-on bonuses and the promise of a free college education with the GI Bill by enlisting. However, right now there is a hesitancy in both those who are recruiters and the potential enlistees.

When the pandemic started to affect the general population of the United States in March, there was a shift towards virtual recruiting and by the beginning of April the basic training for any and all recruits was suspended until further notice.

The Army has also adapted and allowed for the use of virtual review and promotion boards, instead of the normal in person review and promotion boards.

The main problem for recruiters is that they are not able to physically talk to potential recruits.

“They usually won’t run away if you’re talking to them in person,” Staff Sgt. Kevin Meyers said. ““They just stop responding, and the conversation just ends without a conclusion.”

Seal of the United States Marine Corps, public domain

Right now, there are delays for those who have already been sworn in and waiting to be shipped off to basic training. Instead they are drilling with their units and being paid for doing so.

This also has been felt by the public at large because one of the major organizations that helps the public during times of crisis and unrest are the armed forces, particularly the National Guards of each individual state.

The National Guard often helps distribute food, clean water and other essential supplies to the public in addition to keeping an eye on the general public so they do not cause any harm to themselves or to others.

This is the reason why during the invasion and occupation of Iraq there were so many National Guard units deployed overseas.

In order to bolster their numbers, the Navy has gone and started to take some extraordinary measures. They have done but not limited to extending enlistments and readmitting veterans.

In order to attract potential recruits there has been a shift away from the duty, courage and honor tagline that the armed forces has often relied upon. Rather, the focus is softer trying to pull on the heartstrings by emphasizing the service to their country and community.

Seal of the United States Navy, public domain

In addition, the Navy has created an E-sports team in order to reach out to the gaming community. Not only to build up their image to the public but also as a recruiting tool, showing that the Navy is in tune with the culture as a whole.

The Air Force has recently made the decision that recruits who contract COVID-19 during basic do not have to restart their training.

Seal of the United States Air Force, public domain

Basic training for the Air Force has also been shortened from eight and a half weeks to seven weeks because there has been a desire to reduce traveling.

There has been a shortage of recruits to the armed forces for the past few years and it will continue to be a problem and compounded by this pandemic.

Peter Pottorff

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