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Monday, January 24, 2011

Recruiting and Retention: An Overview ofFY2009 and FY2010 Results for Active and Reserve Component Enlisted Personnel

Lawrence Kapp
Specialist in Military Manpower Policy

This report provides a brief overview of the recruiting and retention results for Active and Reserve Component enlisted personnel during FY2009 and FY2010. Both years were considered very strong for recruiting and retention in the Active and Reserve Components. 

Recruiting and Retention Metrics 

Recruiting performance for enlisted personnel is principally measured in terms of meeting quantity and quality goals. Quantity goals are based on the projected need for new personnel each Service must bring in over the course of the year to meet its congressionally authorized endstrength. There are two principal quality goals: at least 90% of new recruits be high school diploma graduates and at least 60% score above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Quality goals are only for recruits without any previous military service (“non-prior service”). Retention performance for enlisted personnel is principally measured by meeting one or more quantity goals. For the Active Components, quantity goals are based on career phase (for example, initial term, mid-career, and career) and are stated in numerical terms. For the Reserve Components, retention is tracked via overall attrition rates which measure the ratio of people who leave in a given year. Reserve Component retention goals establish a maximum attrition rate or “ceiling” which should not be exceeded. They are stated in percentage terms and are not broken out by career phase. 

Overview of FY2010 Results 

All the Active Components achieved their recruit quantity goals while recruit quality generally increased over the previous year, in some cases markedly. Virtually all new recruits had high school diplomas, and nearly three-quarters scored above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Retention remained strong for all the Services, with the Army and Navy exceeding their goals by substantial margins. The Air Force missed its goal for first term (“Zone A”) personnel by 7%, and was slightly short of its goal for career (“Zone C”) personnel. All of the Reserve Components except the Army National Guard met or exceeded their recruit quantity goals. The National Guard shortfall was due to an intentional effort to cut back recruiting in order to lower its strength, which had gone beyond its authorized end-strength. Recruit quality continued to improve for nearly all the Reserve Components. All of the Reserve Components finished the year under their attrition ceilings, and almost all showed lower attrition (better retention) than in FY2009. 

Overview of FY2009 Results 

All the Active Components achieved their recruit quantity goals while increasing recruit quality. This was particularly noticeable for the Army, which saw a surge in recruit quality compared to FY2005-FY2008. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps exceeded their retention goals by sizable margins; the Air Force met or nearly met its goals. All of the Reserve Components met or exceeded their recruit quantity goals, and most increased the level of recruit quality. The Army National Guard, which has historically had difficulty in meeting the quality benchmarks, exceeded both of them. The Army Reserve, which had not met both quality benchmarks since FY2004, likewise surpassed them. All of the Reserve Components finished the year under their attrition ceilings, often by comfortable margins.

Date of Report: January 14, 2011
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RL32965
Price: $29.95

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