Army Secretary Mark Esper remains confident the service will meet its goal for about 500,000 active-duty soldiers and about 500,000 more in National Guard and Army Reserves, Army Times reported Thursday.
In 2018 the Army had flatline recruiting results, closing out the year with no end strength gains.
Esper said service leaders believe they will reach their long-term growth target, and it could possibly go higher.
“I can’t tell you what the Army end strength will be. I know it has to be above 500,000. I know it has to be above 500,000 in the regular Army – and I’ve always said associated growth in the Guard and Reserve, he said. “But our war games could come out and tell us – in two years, or a year and a half – that we really need 504,000. Or it could come out and tell us that we need 540,000,” he added.
Esper’s Army Vision statement proposes 500,000 in end strength in 2028, but past interviews, testimony and documents detail the growth plan for 483,500 at the start of 2019, with another 4,000 added yearly until the end of 2022.
The Army’s 2018 recruiting included a shortfall of 6,500 recruits, while another 1,000 soldiers separated, ending the year even at about 476,000.
DOD photo by Edward Lopez