WASHINGTON -- The Army will achieve its fiscal year 2019 recruiting goal, exceeding the new Soldier target of 68,000 before the year's end, senior leaders announced Tuesday.

"We are extremely proud of the Army's recruiting efforts," said Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy. "We changed the way we do business and got results. We are ensuring the Army is ready now and investing in the future."

Leaders credited the Army's overhauled recruiting and outreach efforts, to include Army Recruiting Command's initiative to increase presence in 22 U.S. metropolitan areas. The Army observed a 15 percent average increase in enlistments in these 22 cities, to include a rise in female and minority recruits, McCarthy said.

"Meeting our recruiting goals allows the Army to achieve our readiness and modernization goals while maintaining high-quality recruits and Soldiers," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville. "We're committed to hiring the right people with the right talents. The Army is a great place to work, and it provides people multiple pathways to success while serving a purpose greater than themselves.

"What really matters is exposure," he added. "We have learned is that there certain parts of the country that don't have a lot of exposure to the military."

For the past year Army senior leaders have made a concerted effort to actively engage with civic and school officials during their travels around the country, McCarthy said during a media engagement at the Pentagon.

By helping officials see the value of military service, such as the Army's 150 different military occupational specialties and financial assistance to pursue a college education, it can open the door to a wide-range of opportunities, he said.

In addition to the 22 cities, USAREC has developed 44 virtual recruiting stations that leverage social media and text messaging to engage with the 17- to 24-year-old age group. Through virtual recruiting alone, the Army generated more than 3,000 enlistment contracts, officials said.

The Army also changed the way it advertises to today's youth, McCarthy said. Two years ago, the Army spent 50 percent of its advertising budget on television ads alone, he said. Now, the Army has allocated nearly 90 percent of its ad budget to support targeted digital engagement.

Further, USAREC established two new outreach teams, the Army Esports Team and Army Warrior Fitness Team, said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, USAREC commander. While still under development, the new outreach initiative was able to generate more than 135 million impressions throughout the year.

"We think that esports and the digital plane are going to become the No. 1 lead generator, which is a paradigm shift since [the Army started] recruiting in 1974," Muth said.

The esports team has initiated some of the highest lead-generating events in the history of the all-volunteer force. Out of the 33 million people in the Army's targeted age group, around 56 percent of this population maintains an active interest in esports or some form of gaming, Muth said.

"We are trying to adapt to the environment that's out there," McConville said, adding the Army is getting after innovative ways of exposing the military to some young men and women had never seen it.

Further, an increase in recruiters, coupled with improved on-the-job training, has aided in the Army's recent success. Back in January, the Army added 700 new recruiters, which improved the Army's ability to reach potential applicants across the nation, Muth said.

"Our recruiters across the U.S., and overseas, work tirelessly to enlist high-quality men and women into the Army," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston. "I am extremely proud of their hard work and dedication to building a winning team."