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Army falls short 10K soldiers for FY '22, report says

Sen. Tim Kaine expressed optimism that the problem is temporary and numbers will improve, "as we clear more of this COVID hangover."

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — All of the U.S. military branches are struggling, but the Army especially so, when it comes to recruiting.

ABC News reports that the situation is "dire,"  with some Army leaders predicting that the service will fall about 10,000 soldiers short of meeting its projected end-strength goal by the September 30 end of the 2022 fiscal year.

Among the reasons are: 

  • The pandemic has limited in-person recruiting for the last two years
  • Low civilian unemployment rates nationally
  • The strenuous academic and physical fitness requirements for recruits to get into the Army in the first place

"Our people are critical to our readiness, but recruiting motivated, fit and academically proficient men and women continues to be a challenge," said General Joseph Martin, Vice Chief of Staff United States Army, testifying last month before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) met Monday with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command leaders at Fort Eustis to discuss recruiting.

Kaine said he is concerned about the recruiting shortfall's impact on overall readiness.

"Of course I am," he said. "I'm chair of the readiness subcommittee. I do worry about this."

Kaine said he believes the problem is temporary and the recruiting numbers will improve.

"Hopefully as we clear more of this COVID hangover, I expect it's going to come back," he said.

One thing that could help is innovative pilot initiatives like a program called the "Future Soldier Preparatory Course."

It is being tested out at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The goal is to help future Army recruits overcome academic and physical challenges, giving them an extra 90 days to meet or exceed the entrance standards.

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