Military branches struggling to meet recruitment goals

‘Based on the information we have right now, all the services are struggling pretty bad,’ says U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Carver

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Brandon Carver, a production superintendent at the 330th Special Warfare Recruiting Squadron, said the Air Force recruiting effort isn’t necessarily in a crisis, but they face significant challenges.

“Based on the information we have right now, all the services are struggling pretty bad,” Carver said.

The U.S. Army is expected to recruit 55,000 new soldiers this year, 10,000 short of its goal. The U.S. Navy is expected to be around 6,000 enlistees short.

“Unfortunately, looks like we will miss our enlisted as sessions go by about 12% this year,” said Carver, referring to the Air Force.

Carver said the Air Force aims to fill 27,000 airmen in over 130 careers.

“So, of that 27,000, we’re currently seeing in about 20,000 airmen that we have sent to basic military training right here in Lackland,” he said.

The Air Force is about 10,000 airmen short for active and reserve components. A contributing factor to the recruitment shortage is medical eligibility.

“Only about one in four of our target demographic applicants are qualified based on medical law violations, those kinds of things, and they need what’s called a waiver,” said Carver.

He also says another problem is unfamiliarity.

“If you look in 1995, about 40% of all people that were able to serve had you had a family member or a parent or someone in the military that they knew. If you take that to today’s standards, we only have about 10%. So unfortunately, what we’re seeing is just a lack of information about what we do as a military as a whole, and that’s hurting us,” said Carver.

Although the military faces recruitment challenges, Carver said not only is an all-volunteer force sustainable, it’s vital to their success and will continue to seek out the most qualified individuals.

“There’s a mindset that sometimes we’re just trying to fill in a number. Right? And that’s absolutely wrong. We’re trying to do is put the right person in the right job. We want people that are passionate about what they’re doing,” said Carver.

While the Marine Corps and Space Force expect to meet their numbers, the Department of Defense says the Army, Navy and Air Force will not make enlistment goals this year.

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About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.