The Army Missed Its Recruiting Goal For The First Time Since 2005

Bullet Points

The Army has fallen short of its recruiting goal for fiscal 2018, which had already been lowered in April from 80,000 to 76,500 when it became clear that the service would not be able to bring in as many new soldiers this fiscal year as it had initially hoped.


  • About 70,000 recruits joined the Army this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, the service announced on Friday. The Associated Press first reported that the Army would fall nearly 6,500 recruits short of its goal.
  • “We made a decision to raise the quality of our recruits despite the tough recruiting environment,” the Army said in a statement on Friday. “As we look to 2019 and beyond, we have laid the foundation to improve recruiting for the Army while maintaining an emphasis on quality over quantity.”

  • However, the service has issued more waives for drug and alcohol tests in recent years, according to statistics provided by the service. No such waivers were issued fiscals 2013 and 2014. In fiscal 2015, the Army issued 21 drug and alcohol test waivers. That number increased to 191 the next fiscal year, and it jumped to 506 in fiscal 2017 – a 168 % increase. As of Aug. 18, the Army had issued 605 waivers for drug and alcohol tests.
  • “As we look to 2019 and beyond, we have laid the foundation to improve recruiting for the Army while maintaining an emphasis on quality over quantity,” the Army’s statement says. “Our leaders remain confident we will achieve the Army Vision of growing the Regular Army above 500,000 Soldiers with associated growth in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.”
  • Task & Purpose recently asked Defense Secretary James Mattis if he was concerned that the Army would eventually have to lower its standards to meet its recruiting goals.
  • “We have no doubt that as the economy improves we have more competition,” Mattis replied, noting that the Army had raised its recruiting standards. “It’s that simple. So we’ll have to adjust our recruiting in order to maintain the quality standards. But it will be a challenge, I think.”

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