The Navy hit its active duty enlisted recruitment goals for fiscal 2022, but failed to meet target numbers for active duty and Reserve officers, as well as Reserve enlisted personnel.

All of the armed services encountered recruitment challenges this year, which service leaders attributed to factors including more thorough medical screenings, fewer Americans eligible to serve, and low civilian unemployment. Meanwhile, the Navy is bracing for even more significant recruitment difficulties in the coming year.

In total, the service recruited 33,442 new active duty sailors in FY22, just exceeding the 33,400 target number accessions for the year. Among Reserve enlisted personnel, the service welcomed 5,442 accessions, significantly down from the 7,400 goal.

The service fell short of its goal for active duty officer accessions by more than 200 people, bringing in 2,298 new officers rather than the 2,507 target. The Navy aimed to recruit 1,360 Reserve officers as well, but ultimately brought on a total of 982 instead.

“We’ve completed a very challenging year, and I am very proud of the tremendous efforts our Recruiters gave to bring in the nation’s top talent and build the future of the fleet,” said Rear Adm. Alexis “Lex” Walker, commander of Navy Recruiting Command, in a Navy news release Friday. “The coming year promises to be even more challenging, as we are not starting the year in as strong a position as FY22.”

“In order to achieve our mission goals this year, we will need an all-hands-on-deck effort, not only from our recruiters, but from throughout the active and reserve fleet, our retired Navy veterans, and our community leaders around the country who are centers of influence in the lives of the young people we are trying to recruit,” Walker said. “We are going to do everything within our power to ensure that our recruiters are empowered and have the assets they need in order to accomplish the mission.”

Although the Navy met its active duty enlisted goal, the service said doing so required it to drain its Delayed Entry Program pool to the lowest the service has experienced in 40 years. Approximately 33 percent of those remaining in the Delayed Entry Program, which allows someone to join the Navy prior to their shipping date, are seniors in high school who couldn’t ship until May or June 2023.

As a result, the Navy is bracing for incoming recruits for FY23 to head to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes weeks or days after signing a contract.

Amid these challenges, the Navy has ushered in several new recruiting incentives in recent months. For example, the service said in August that future sailors and veterans who re-up can combine the maximum enlistment bonus with a maximum student loan repayment — to cap out at $115,000 — if they shipped out before the end of September. Navy officials say that incentive will remain in place for FY23.

The Enlisted Loan Repayment Program means the Navy covers student loans that were taken out prior to a sailor enlisting for active duty, such as Stafford Student Loans.

“The maximum current enlistment bonus is $50,000, and the maximum loan repayment is $65,000,” Walker said. “They are not mutually exclusive, so if a future Sailor maximizes both, that adds up to a life-altering $115,000, and the opportunity to serve in the world’s finest Navy.”

The service said it is aiming to recruit 37,700 new active duty enlisted personnel in FY23, along with 8,100 Reserve enlisted personnel. The Navy is still determining its recruitment goals for active duty officers, but aims to recruit 1,732 new Reserve officers next year.

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