Army Opens New Warrant Officer Recruiting Roles as It Struggles to Fill the Ranks

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January 5, 2024
U.S. Army soldiers with the Wichita Recruiting Company hosted a recruitment booth at Hutchinson

The Army on Wednesday opened up applications for its new “talent acquisition technician” role for warrant officers as part of its efforts to overhaul recruiting.

The service is looking for a total of 225 applicants across three selection boards to beef up its new job designation — 420T — after years of missing goals for bringing in new soldiers and struggling to pitch existing noncommissioned officers to be recruiters, according to a memo to the force.

The deadline for the first wave of applications is Feb. 2. The new warrant officer program is meant to install more consistency in the recruiting ranks and be a bridge between recruiting and marketing.

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Some recruiters have told Military.com that by the time recruiters get up to snuff on the bureaucratic processes and get more comfortable with pitching service, they move on with their career.

The service aims to eventually phase out involuntary recruiting assignments between the warrant officer program and a new talent acquisition military occupational specialty for noncommissioned officers.

That first cohort will be mid-career warrant officers, as the Army prefers those with previous recruiting experience or a bachelor’s degree in marketing, data analytics, psychology or human resources.

The second pool of applicants the Army is looking for are permanently assigned, active-duty recruiters between the rank of staff sergeant and master sergeant. Those NCOs must also be graduates of the Advanced Leadership Course, have at least an associate degree or 60 hours of semester hours. Applications for that cohort are due March 4.

The third round will be open to all active-duty NCOs between sergeant and master sergeant, regardless of occupational specialty. Both of those NCO cohorts will have a modified warrant officer selection board. The application deadline for the last cohort is April 1.

Each cohort will attend a 75-person class at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The Army faces a two-pronged issue with recruiting. It faces a yearslong recruiting slump as the military branches struggle to pitch service to young Americans and get them into boots. The challenge has a variety of causes that are partly out of the Pentagon’s control, including a surging obesity epidemic and poor investment across many jurisdictions in public schools, which has led to applicants who can’t meet weight or academic standards to enlist.

It is also struggling to pitch recruiting to NCOs already serving. Recruiters often work long hours and irregular schedules. The eight-week recruiting school at Fort Knox can train 2,866 students per year but only graduated 1,336 last year — leading to a major shortage of recruiters.

In November, the Army sent out involuntary orders to hundreds of NCOs to attend recruiting school, spurring ire across the rank and file just before the holidays.

Some of those NCOs were given only a week’s notice to attend the course and faced being assigned anywhere in the country for recruiting duty, which was a massive challenge for families on such short notice.

Huge swaths of those NCOs wiggled out of those orders, and for the first recruiting class following those orders, only 132 out of 200 NCOs showed up, according to personnel data provided to Military.com.

Meanwhile, recruiters and some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pointing to Military Health System Genesis, which launched in March 2022, as part of the recruiting problem. That program centralized medical records en masse from participating medical providers.

In some cases, recruiters say applicants are being denied enlistments altogether because of increased scrutiny on medical or mental health issues that are no longer relevant, minor or are incomplete due to Genesis’ data collection, unfairly disqualifying them from service or delaying the process.

The Army has not finalized a timeline for the new enlisted MOS, which will be designated 42T. It’s unclear how that new MOS will be functionally different from the current 79R recruiter MOS, but Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters in October the service is aiming to be more aligned with the talent recruiting goals of civilian corporations.

Related: Inside the Army’s Mad Dash for Recruiters After Graduating Only Half the Number Needed

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