COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on military recruiting, closing enlistment stations and forcing thousands of recruiters to woo potential soldiers online, or even on their front steps, Army Times reported.
As the virus spread, enlistments slowed and fueled concerns that the armed services would have to rely more on current troops re-enlisting to meet total force requirements by the end of the fiscal year in September.
Army Times reported: "Recruiters have had to abandon their normal visits to high schools and malls, and instead are relying almost exclusively on social media to reach young people.
"As that effort builds, Army leaders believe it may evolve into a new system that will allow them to scale back the size and staffing at enlistment storefronts and reduce the number of recruiters."
Recruiting and retention officials acknowledge that the pandemic forced the service to learn how to thrive in the virtual world, Military.com reported.
Virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom became the go-to tools for holding meetings with potential recruits and their parents, according to Military.com. Recruiters also learned how to join existing virtual job fairs being held by unemployment agencies, schools, or private companies. They connected with young people by accessing chat rooms on the job fair sites.
The emergence of COVID-19 and the accompanying statewide shutdowns altered traditional models of recruiting and retaining military personnel, according to new report from the RAND Corporation.
The dramatic increase in the unemployment rate and the restrictions on in-person interactions could have changed individuals' incentives to join or remain in the military, according to the RAND Corporation study.
In the RAND report, researchers provided an exploratory and descriptive analysis of the changes in military enlisted recruiting and retention during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes primarily occurred between March and June 2020. The results suggest that the services primarily focused on retention in order to meet their end strength goals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Relative to fiscal year (FY) 2019, the Army increased end strength, decreased accessions, and increased retention. Although the number of enlistment contracts decreased, the quality of recruits increased. The Army also relied more heavily on recruits with prior military service than it did in FY 2019.
Relative to FY 2019, the Marine Corps decreased end strength, accessions, retention, and the number of enlistment contracts, but the quality of recruits increased. These changes may reflect a force restructuring plan unveiled by the Marine Corps in March 2020 in addition to pandemic-related difficulties.
Relative to FY 2019, the Navy increased end strength, saw only a small change in accessions, and increased retention. It decreased the number of enlistment contracts, and the quality of recruits did not change.
Relative to FY 2019, the Air Force increased end strength, decreased accessions, increased retention, decreased the number of enlistment contracts, and increased the quality of recruits.
This research was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.