The U.S. Army is offering record enlistment bonuses as it tries to deal with a massive troop shortage over the next two years. New recruits can secure a $50,000 bonus if they agree to serve six years in the military.
The move comes as the Pentagon expects to fall 40,000 troops short of its enlistment goals. In 2022, the Army is expected to miss its goal by 10,000, but in 2023 that number could reach 28,000. That would leave the military understaffed amid rising global tensions and the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Officials said there are many reasons for the shortage, including low unemployment rates, the decline in people physically able to serve, and the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve got unprecedented challenges with both a post-Covid-19 environment and labor market, but also private competition with private companies that have changed their incentives over time,” General Joseph Martin, vice chief of staff of the Army, told the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee.
The record-setting enlistment bonus isn’t the only plan the military has to boost recruitment numbers and keep enlisted troops in the service for longer. The Army recently relaxed its tattoo policies and told ROTC lieutenants they would be moved to active duty ahead of schedule. In addition, the military is working to create a training camp for applicants with low test scores on qualifying exams and for those who exceed body fat standards.