According to Military.com, the orders come as the Army is attempting to increase its recruiting force by 800 soldiers by the conclusion of 2023.
The Army recently experienced a breakdown in its recruiter tracking that has led to fewer retained recruiters than the Army expected, prompting the service to issue orders that could have a major impact on soldiers who may be forced to relocate with their families in the middle of the school year.
“Given the six-day heads up, we have zero time to plan child care,” an unnamed noncommissioned officer told Military.com. “We can barely find and afford child care during the week as it is, so now my wife may end up having to quit her job entirely because it is impossible to find on the weekend.”
READ MORE: Pentagon lowering recruitment standards again: Report
According to Military.com, while the Army has approximately 10,000 recruiters, its recruitment force has been significantly declining over the past year. As a result, some recruiters have told Military.com that they have been forced to work additional hours or been fired for failing to meet recruitment quotas.
In response to public backlash against the Army’s sudden orders, Lt. Gen. Doug Stitt issued an apology in statements to reporters on Wednesday.
“I’d like to open up and first of all apologize to the Soldiers and the families that received this last-minute notification,” Stitt said. “It’s not lost on me, particularly at this point in time, the impact this last-minute notification and now being on the cusp of the holidays has on our Soldiers and our great NCOs as they navigate a process to support the recruiting enterprise.”
Stitt explained that if a soldier has a family situation, professional situation, or a life situation that has not been identified by the chain of command, human resources command, or a career manager, “we’re going to talk to that soldier.”
Stitt added, “We’re going to work through this to ensure that we have the right NCOs at the right time to perform this vital mission in service of our recruiting enterprise.”
Col. Dave Butler, a spokesperson for Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, also explained that when George “caught wind of how this was communicated to members of the force, he immediately directed the Army reassess this effort. He directed the staff to get commanders involved in the process and take into consideration operational readiness, the soldiers, and their families.”
Sgt. Maj. Christopher Stevens noted that the Army has expanded career incentives and cash incentives for voluntary and involuntary service at the Fort Knox recruitment school. In addition to a $5,000 bonus for Army recruiters who finish their training by February, any sergeant who finishes the training and reports to their recruiting post will receive a promotion to staff sergeant.
According to Military.com, the U.S. military has struggled with recruitment since the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the contributing factors to poor recruitment numbers are the declining number of recruitment applicants, the current job market, increasing issues with overweight and obese Americans, and issues with applicants’ performance on the academic entrance exam.