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Army to offer bonuses during five-week recruiting drive

Recruits visit the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, as part of Army National Hiring Days, June 30, 2020.

SARAH SANGSTER/U.S. ARMY

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 5, 2021

ATLANTA — The Army, in an attempt to bolster recruiting as the coronavirus pandemic stretches into a second year, will offer extra bonuses starting next week to individuals who commit to serve in 11 high-demand jobs, service officials said Wednesday.

The five-week recruiting drive, dubbed Army National Hiring Days, is the service’s second annual attempt to steer potential recruits toward the Army with a mostly virtual effort to boost enlistment numbers, which have dipped during the pandemic. The Army will hold the event from May 10 through June 14, when it hopes to generate interest in the service for some 60,000 potential recruits, said Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis, the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

“We are in a pretty challenging recruiting environment right now,” Michaelis told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve got a very challenging mission, and we have to adapt to the [pandemic] environment, to be able to bring young men and women … into our Army to serve our nation.”

In its first Army National Hiring Days drive during the summer, service officials sought to commit 10,000 new recruits to the Army in three days. This year, the Army is aiming to provide its recruiters new enticements, largely in an effort to populate the service’s 11 high-demand fields, which require more soldiers due to shortages or expansions of those fields as the service modernizes.

The Army will offer an extra $2,000 bonus to qualified individuals who begin the enlistment application process during the five-week drive, commit to an active-duty enlistment in one of those priority jobs, and ship to initial entry training by Sept. 30, according to the service. That bonus is in addition to existing bonuses that range from $9,000 to $40,000 for recruits who commit to serve in those specialties, Michaelis said.

The high-priority jobs are infantry, special forces, fire-control specialists, multiple launch rocket system crew members, air and missile defense crew members, human intelligence collectors, signals intelligence voice interceptors, psychological operations specialists, explosive ordnance disposal specialists, parachute riggers, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists.

While the campaign will be primarily online and driven by a social media blitz from officials across the entire Army, this year’s National Hiring Days will also include some in-person recruiting efforts. For example, the Army will send recruiters to the Miami Air and Sea Show in Florida on May 29 and 30, said Col. Rich McNorton, a spokesman for Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“As conditions start to get better across the country, we want to start integrating in and start to attend more [in-person] physical events,” Michaelis said. “Face-to-face is an amazing way to be able to connect to the target market.”

Michaelis and other Army officials said Wednesday that they expect to meet their recruiting goal but declined to provide specific numbers of new recruits that they aim to bring into the service. The general said the goal likely would be similar to last year when the Army brought in roughly 60,000 recruits, meeting its quota that was lowered mid-year amid higher-than-anticipated retention of already serving soldiers.

“Right now, we're sitting pretty good,” Michaelis said. “We are dead-in-line to make our [goal] this year.”

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC