By Devon L. Suits, Army News ServiceMay 21, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The Army is on the path to meet its fiscal year 2019 recruiting mission: to bring 68,000 Soldiers into the active component, 15,600 into the Army Reserve, and 39,000 into the National Guard, said the Army's G-1.
At the same time, the Army is maintaining its high entry standards while further increasing positions for women in brigade combat teams.
"The Army increased its entry standards last summer in a number of areas, making clear its commitment to 'quality over quantity,'" said Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army's deputy chief of staff, G-1.
To help bolster this year's numbers, recruiting has developed a "total Army approach," Seamands said. For example, the Army added almost 800 recruiters to the force over the past year and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command assumed oversight over all accessions to help counter a tough recruiting market.
"Today, only 29 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. are eligible to serve in the Army, and only one in eight has a propensity to enlist in the military, making Army accessions a challenging and resource-intensive activity," he said.
To entice people to join, the Army has allocated $450 million toward active-duty bonuses. Further, the force assigned $50 million to "add, relocate, or improve recruiting centers in more than 200 critical markets," Seamands said.
Further, the Army made improvements to the "goArmy.com" website, all while establishing effective communication practices on each of its social media platforms, he added.
The Army has also made improvements to the way it assesses and trains the "right Soldier for the right job," Seamands said.
For starters, the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or OPAT, continues to provide the Army with a physical-assessment screening tool for both officer and enlisted accessions.
"Passing the OPAT ensures new Soldiers, regardless of gender, can succeed in an assigned specialty and verifies their readiness for training," Seamands said. "Longitudinal studies on OPAT are being conducted by the Army Research Institute to measure OPAT's effect on morale, cohesion, and readiness."
Further, Soldiers or recruits that meet the standards set by a military occupational specialty should have the opportunity to serve in that career field, regardless of their gender, he said.
"To date, the Army has successfully accessed and transferred more than 1,000 women into the previously closed occupations of infantry, armor, and field artillery," he said. "Currently, 80 female officers are assigned to infantry or armor positions at Forts Hood, Bragg, Carson, Bliss, and Campbell."
The Army first opened positions in combat-arms battalions to women in 2016. That year the first women graduated field artillery training as cannon crew members and the first female officers were accepted into the infantry branch.
In 2019, the Army plans to open up more assignments for female officers at Forts Stewart, Drum, Riley, Polk, and in Italy, Seamands said.
"Additionally, the Army has transferred, trained, and assigned female NCOs into both infantry and armor specialties," he said. "As part of a multi-year effort to open other assignments to female Soldiers, as many as 500 women currently serve in every active brigade combat team in the Army down to the company level."
In addition, 30 women have graduated Ranger School since 2015.
Moving forward, the Army will continue to evaluate its gender integration processes all while employing a standards-based approach to increase unit diversity, he said.