Armed Forces News

Fort Bragg, NC - June 2009: Paratroopers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division, wait in harness at Pope Air Force Baseís Green Ramp for the call to board an aircraft for a training jump. (Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Despite hindrances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Army slightly exceeded its end-strength goal for fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. The service now consists of 486,490 soldiers. The goal was 485,900.

Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, the service’s deputy personnel chief, attributed the success to recruiters who worked hard to reach accession goals and convince current soldiers to extend beyond initial service obligations.

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The total includes 337,525 soldiers for the Army National Guard, ahead of its goal of 336,500 – and 184,358 Army Reservists, slightly short of its goal of 189,800.

“This year the Army also exceeded its retention goal by 1,852 soldiers. Overall, the army retained 58,141 soldiers who were scheduled to transition and an additional 6,618 soldiers elected to transition into the Army Reserve or Army National Guard,” said Sgt Maj. Mark Clark, the service’s senior enlisted advisor for personnel.

A recent change that entailed a higher ratio of drill instructors to trainees helped contribute to an improved attrition rate in basic training, Brito believes. He also said that front-loading classes on sexual assault and harassment prevention during basic combat training has served to instill an early understanding of the level of professionalism expected of new soldiers. The Army believes this approach also played a role in improving the attrition rate at basic training. In 2021, 5.5 percent of all recruits did not make it through basic training. The figure in 2020 was 10.8 percent.

“Our innovative talent initiatives and policy updates are essential to our force readiness and our ability to fight and win America’s conflicts,” Brito said.

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