Enrollment in the US Army will likely dip by at least 7,000 when the fiscal year ends on September 30, according to an admission made by the Army’s number two officer to the House Armed Services Committee panel.
According to the panel, the Army says that it expects to have between 445,000 and 452,000 soldiers by the end of the 2023 fiscal year, a decrease of 28,000 soldiers, said Vice Chief of Staff en. Joseph Martin.
Martin’s spokesperson Lr. Col. Loni Ayers said in an email statement to Army Times that Martin “stated the estimated end strength for FY22 is 466.4K. Our estimated end strength for FY23 is between 445-452K.”
“Martin’s admission indicates a significant shortfall of soldiers from the Army’s target end strength of 473,000, plus an even steeper drop-off for the following year, which was originally programmed for 476,000 troops,” the New York Post reports.
The Army, however, faces even bigger trouble ahead when it comes to recruiting. The service started this fiscal year with an end strength target of 485,000, but “slashed it by 12,000 (and recruiting goals by 15,000) in April when it realized it wouldn’t make those numbers.”
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said that a committee would be held to look into why the Army’s strength was dropping and what potential solutions could be found.
According to Army Times, “The reasons contributing to plunging recruitment are complex, including more detailed medical screenings, a shrinking proportion of Americans eligible to serve, poor marketing practices, low civilian unemployment and more. In the face of the challenge, the service is pulling out nearly all the stops to ensure the ranks are filled.”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said that the Army knows that it faces a huge crisis. “This is not a one-year challenge,” Wormuth said. “And because it’s not a one-year problem we will solve overnight, we are examining a wide range of additional steps we could take in the short and longer term to recruit more soldiers into the Army without lowering standards or sacrificing quality.”