US Army recruiters are attempting to poach US Navy officer candidates on Reddit, USNI News reported.
The outlet reported that the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all reached their Fiscal Year 2018 recruitment targets. The Army is the only one that missed it by an entire regiment’s number of troops – 6,528 active duty soldiers, according to a recent Department of Defense report.
“Hey all, The Army’s holding monthly Officer Candidate School Boards in Salt Lake City, UT over VTC / Facetime. Meaning, you can apply from practically anywhere in the U.S. All you need to apply is a Bachelor’s Degree, a DD Form 368 signed by the first O-6 (or above) in your chain of command, and to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT),” the Reddit conversation started. “So far, of the prior service OCS applicants our board has interviewed in the last two years, none have been disapproved.”
USNI reported that it is not uncommon for active duty personnel to switch services, however it is unclear how common it is for recruiters to try and actively pitch their branch on the social media sites dedicated to other services. Somewhat surprisingly, the conversation in the comments appears positive, several commenters appeared interested in learning more after reading the pitch.
Kelli Bland, the director of public affairs for the Army’s Recruiting Command told USNI that it is not uncommon for recruiters to bring transfers from other branches. However, this Reddit recruitment technique appears to be an isolated incident.
“Our recruiting regulations and the curriculum in our Recruiting and Retention College are clear that if someone is actively prospecting with another service, then our recruiters are not to interfere with the process,” Bland said in a follow-up email to USNI News.
The Reddit recruitment might be used to show the US Army’s newfound expertise in cyber technology and cyber warfare. And unsurprisingly there were commenters who inquired precisely about cyber and military intelligence positions. It appeared that one would need 3 and a half years of experience as an officer before being able to apply for cyber operations.
The Navy appeared to be caught unaware that the Army recruiter was attempting to poach their candidates.
“The Army didn’t make their recruiting goal for the year. We did,” Capt. Amy Derrick, a spokeswoman for the Chief of Naval Personnel, told USNI News.
According to the Department of Defense report, for the Fiscal Year 2018 each branch had the following recruitment goals and subsequent results:
- Navy goal: 39,000 recruits. Attained 39,018 recruits (100.05 percent of goal).
- Marine Corps goal: 31,556 recruits. Attained 31,567 recruits (100.03 percent of goal).
- Army goal: 76,500 recruits. Attained 69,972 recruits (91.47 percent of goal).
- Air Force goal: 29,450 recruits. Attained 30,343 recruits (103.03 percent of goal).
The DoD report described retention as being “strong” for all services.
The Army finished FY 2018 with 476,179 soldiers – essentially flat from the previous year, with a slight a drop of 66 soldiers from the FY 2017 end strength of 476,245 troops, according to the DoD statistics.
“I am extremely proud of our Navy recruiters. Without their dedication and hard work, we would not have achieved our FY 18 accession goals. We have modernized our recruiting approach and are leveraging digital and mobile technology to reach every potential recruit. As we grow the Navy the Nation Needs, we are looking for talented men and women to be our next generation of Sailors, which means recruiting a more inclusive, diverse Navy that provides a range of opportunities to those who want to serve,” Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of Naval Personnel, said in an email to USNI News.
According to the Department of Defense report only two of six military reserve components met their FY 2018 goals. Those were the Marine Corps and Air Force reserves. The Army National goal, the Army Reserve goal, the Navy reserve goal and the Air National Guard reserve goal were left unreached.
According to military leaders the good economy and the fact that many young people have no immediate relatives who have served in the army are challenges that cause the lack of recruits.
The Navy competes with other branches as well as private sector employers and has reportedly rethought its recruitment strategy. According to Burke, during a recent Naval Submarine League symposium, he Navy has set an aggressive recruiting target, with a goal of increasing the force size to 344,800 active duty sailors within the next four years, according to its FY2019 budget request.
“Everything that we do is really a throwback to the time when we had the draft,” Burke said. “The conveyer belt mentality, we had people standing line, we could bring them, train them up, send them out, chew them up, and it didn’t matter because more people were coming, and we could train them quickly. None of that is true anymore.”
He also said that social media presents a unique opportunity for recruitment.
Thanks to social media, Burke said now, “When the recruiter gets into the car, they’re closing the deal, and they’re closing the deal in Starbucks.”
It is also a possibility that potential Army recruits saw the death tally in the recent “Cost of War” report by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and were dissuaded from applying.