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Lawmakers question SMA on Army recruiting progress as reforms unfold

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer told Congress that the Army recruiting’s fiscal year 2024 performance is “up a little bit, but they’re not where they need to be.” That was incorrect. Weimer was responding to a question about fiscal 2023 numbers.

As the Army feverishly works to implement a raft of recruiting reforms, the service’s top noncommissioned officer testified before lawmakers Wednesday on the topic.

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer, who spoke before a House panel focused on service member quality of life issues, touted the success of some of the service’s interim efforts, such as the Future Soldier Prep Course. The pre-training camp is designed to help hopeful soldiers improve their test scores or physical fitness so they can qualify for enlistment.

According to Weimer’s written testimony, the prep course graduated nearly 13,000 soldiers in fiscal year 2023. The Army will conduct long-term studies on career outcomes for its graduates, who have a slightly higher basic training completion rate than their peers, according to Weimer.

But despite the prep course’s success and other efforts like the Soldier Referral Program, the service has been unable to decisively turn around its recruiting slump, having missed its recruiting targets in both fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Army leaders previously stated that overhauling Recruiting Command is a long-term project that cannot solve the recruiting crisis overnight.

The Army recently began soliciting warrant officers for the new 420T “talent acquisition technician” field, marking one of the first steps toward implementing its promised changes.

Army headquarters is currently refining — or “staffing” — the execution order that will lay out timelines and responsibilities for the reforms, according to a document obtained by Army Times. The order will codify immediate changes to the Recruiting Command organizational chart, including the reassignment of Army marketing.

According to the document, the new-look Recruiting Command will be at initial operating capacity by the end of August, but the reforms won’t be complete until the end of fiscal year 2025.

In the interim, Army leaders are struggling to fill seats at the service’s recruiting college. The service apologized in November after public outcry from soldiers who received involuntary recruiting orders on short notice. Officials recently extended a limited-time $5,000 bonus available to those who volunteer for recruiting duty, who may also be eligible for accelerated promotion opportunities.

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