The Marine Corps met its recruitment goals for fiscal year 2022, making it one of the only branches this year to fully reach its target numbers.
While each of the services has been facing recruitment challenges ― which service leaders attribute among other things to the COVID-19 pandemic ― a low interest in military service and a declining eligible population, the Marine Corps managed to overcome its enlistment obstacles.
The Navy hit its active-duty enlisted recruitment goals for this year, but not for officers, Navy Times reported. And the Army was short its goal by around 15,000 soldiers.
Air Force officials expected to just-barely meet active-duty targets and the newest military branch Space Force, which has far less personnel than the other services, was expected to meet its recruitment figures for this year.
In total, the Marine Corps recruited 28,608 active-duty enlisted Marines in fiscal year 2022, making its goal by just eight service members. Among Reserve enlisted personnel, the Corps met its exact accession target of 4,602 troops.
The service also hit its goals for both active-duty and Reserve officer accessions. It brought in 1,592 active-duty officers and 113 Reserve officers, just over its respective goals of 1,576 and 91 for each component, according to the Marine Corps.
“Our recruiting force is arguably experiencing the most challenging recruiting environment since the establishment of the all-volunteer force,” said Jim Edwards, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command, in a statement to Marine Corps Times.
“Compounding effects of the COVID pandemic, reduced school access, a decline in eligible population, historic low propensity, decreased public confidence, media inflation, and a growing military and civilian divide have placed great stress on day-to-day recruiting operations. These challenges remain prevalent and will continue to challenge our recruiting force during FY23.”
In total, for the 2022 recruitment year, 99% of the enlisted accessions were high school graduates (the Defense Department standard is 90%) and 67% scored in the top three tiers of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the DoD standard is 60%), Edwards said.
Additionally, candidates from diverse backgrounds accounted for 35% of officer accessions, he said, matching the Corps’ “historic high.” More than 15% of all officer accessions were women and the Marine Corps also reached 11% for its female enlisted accessions, exceeding its goal of 10%.
The Corps initially had planned to recruit 30,100 active-duty and 5,502 Reserve troops, for a total of 35,602 for fiscal year 2022, but it was allowed to reduce that target by 2,400 in part because of high retention, Marine Corps Times previously reported.
In July, the Marine Corps surpassed its retention goal for fiscal year 2022 ― the first time it has achieved this in almost ten years.
The Corps already is working on its fiscal year 2023 retention campaign for its Reserve troops, a three-phased plan which began in July, according to a recent MARADMIN post.
In 2021, the Marine Corps also met its recruitment numbers with “more than 1,880 officer accessions and 36,424 enlisted accessions during FY 2021,” according to a Marine press release.
Marine Corps Recruiting Command confirmed the fiscal year goals have not yet been announced.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media