As reported by Military.com on Monday, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service will fall short of its active duty recruitment objective in 2024 by around 10%.
This would be the first time the Air Force has failed to meet its quota since 1999.
According to the most recent figures from the Department of Defense (DOD), the Air Force had a target of 22,660 and garnered only 19,413 new active duty recruits as of July, with two months remaining in the fiscal year, or roughly 86%.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s aftereffects, intense rivalry from the commercial sector, and a declining pool of qualified and enthusiastic young Americans are all factors that, according to Military.com, are keeping the services from expanding their ranks.
According to Military.com, which cited Air Force Recruiting duty data, the last time the Air Force failed to meet its recruiting targets was in 1999, just as the first Millennials became eligible for military duty. According to a 2002 white paper, there was a comparable impact on recruitment in 1979, when Generation X entered the workforce.
According to Military.com, Air Force recruitment efforts for FY2024 are expected to yield better results.
Air Force Recruiting Service spokesperson Leslie Brown said that even though the active duty is anticipated to miss its objective by around 10%, they are heading into FY24 with some optimism.
When asked about the delayed-entry program, in which high school students interested in joining may “reserve” employment in the Air Force before beginning basic training, Brown said the Air Force has seen “good trends.”
Brown told Military.com that the program has “twice what it was at this time last year.”
It’s still below where we’d want it to be, but growth has been steady.
According to Brwon, the Air Force has hired enough people to start the new fiscal year in October, and there are just 15 positions left to fill in November.
Kendall expressed optimism that the recruitment crisis will not last forever.
According to Military Times, the Air Force is again expected to fall 150 pilots short of its yearly training objective in 2023. In June, the Air Force established a monetary incentive of $50,000 for veteran pilots who extend their service contracts.