Navy increases target of 3,400 new sailors to meet demand in challenging recruiting environment

Recruits hold their blankets before marching through the Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, March 18, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The Navy is increasing its recruiting goal of 3,400 sailors to meet its strength requirement by the end of fiscal year 2023 despite an increasingly difficult recruiting environment, service officials told USNI News on Tuesday.

The Marine Service is to recruit 37,700 active duty sailors in fiscal year 2023, according to a Navy statement issued last week. The Navy bases its target on the number of sailors currently in service, the final target strength set in the budget, and projected personnel casualties.

Despite the budget for a slightly smaller final active-duty strength, the Marine Service determined that it needed to increase its recruiting target by 3,400. The target for fiscal year 2022 was 33,400, which the Marine Service has exceeded by only 42 sailors.

The Navy fell short of its fiscal year 2022 goal for active duty officers, as well as enlisted and officer goals for the reserve. The Marine Service has not released a 2023 fiscal year target for officers.

The Navy’s spring budget proposal indicated that it would decrease its final total strength by 1,200 in fiscal year 2023. There is a planned reduction in the total number of active duty officers from 56,657 in fiscal year 2022 to 55,845 in fiscal year 2023. The sea service also budgeted for fewer midshipmen, a source of commissioned officers, of 43.

The final fiscal year 2022 strength for enlisted sailors was 286,487, Capt. Jodie Cornell, spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel, told USNI News on Tuesday. This total is slightly above the target of the proposed budget for the financial year 2022.

The Navy’s planned final strength of active duty sailors decreased by 382 from fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2023, Cornell said.

“Fiscal 2023 recruiting request of 37,700 is the number of new sailors needed to reach final FY2023 strength based on current sailor inventory and projected losses for FY2023. “, she added.

The Navy’s fiscal year 2022 recruiting target for active duty officers was 2,507. The Sea Service recruited 2,298, according to the service.

For the reserve, the Navy wanted to recruit 7,400 non-commissioned sailors and 1,360 officers. He got 5,442 enlisted reservists and 982 officers.

The Navy cited a difficult recruiting environment as one of the causes of its inability to grow to strength and meet its goal of active-duty enlisted sailors.

“Competition for the best talents [was] fierce within branches of the Department of Defense and the private sector, where large corporations began offering incentive packages to compete with the military,” according to the Navy.

Next year is expected to be just as difficult and will see the lowest pool of delayed entry programs in 40 years, according to the statement. The Navy uses the Delayed Entry Program to hire prospective sailors but delays them from heading to boot camp.

Currently, about a third of the DEP pool are high school students who have enlisted but can’t go to boot camp until they graduate in the spring of 2023.

“The Navy should be in a contract and ship posture, where prospective sailors are sent to boot camp within weeks or even days of contract service,” according to the service. “This posture should persist throughout Exercise 23.”

The Navy is not alone. Other branches and the Department of Defense have also expressed concern over the difficult recruiting environment.

The Department of Defense has been candid about its recruiting challenges, Pentagon spokesman Brig. said General Pat Ryder during a press briefing on Tuesday. These include a smaller population at the target age for service and fewer people ready to join the military.

The DoD and military branches are working to understand the causes and find solutions to recruiting challenges, Ryder said.

“Because at the end of the day, this all-volunteer force needs volunteers and is essential to defending our country and our way of life,” he said.