February 21, 2024

Inside the Navy’s quest to fix its recruiting crisis

Source: Navy Times

Journalist: Diana Stancy

Looking ahead 20 to 40 years, who the Navy does or doesn’t recruit today will impact the future fleet, according to Katherine Kuzminski, director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security think tank.

“For every new recruit that’s not coming in today, you affect the entire shape of the pyramid and the quality, and the number of people who are still left to lead 30 years from now,” Kuzminski said.


Just 11 percent of males between the ages of 16 and 21 were interested in serving in the military in 2021, down from 22 percent in 2014, according to the Department of Defense’s Joint Advertising, Marketing Research & Studies program’s youth poll.

Kuzminski also noted that the pool of those eligible to join is extremely limited, given requirements including fitness standards or prior drug use that disqualify a broad swath of the American population from joining the military.

“To serve in the military, you have to have that overlap of the Venn diagram between being interested in serving and meeting the standards,” Kuzminski told Navy Times.


Kuzminski is also interested in how these sailors perform, but noted that those who have undergone the Future Sailor Preparatory Course clearly show strong interest serving in the Navy by going through the prep program in the first place, and therefore could perform well.

“They took an extra step on the way there, so I think even if the numbers are small, the promise is large,” Kuzminski said.

As the Navy directs its attention to manning, one area the Navy could tap into is revamping how a recruiting tour impacts a sailor’s career progression, according to Kuzminski.

For example, the Marine Corps requires all officers to spend time in either a recruiting or basic training unit, and serving in a recruitment billet is a requirement for promotion in the Marine Corps.

But that’s not the case for the Navy, where the career timeline is such that serving in a recruiting billet ashore is not a career-advancing requirement and can even be seen as a negative when certain career fields prioritize sea time, Kuzminski said.

The Navy would benefit from a cultural shift rewarding those who served in recruiting billets, she added.

Additionally, the Navy should explore new ways to attract older recruits, Kuzminski said.

“Rethinking the model of a recruiter and a high school being the real driver of recruitment I think needs to be relooked, as we think about people who may have graduated high school and gone to college and decided they wanted to change their path or who … took a little longer to mature, but now they’re 25 or 26,” Kuzminski said.

Read the full story and more from Navy Times.


  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Deputy Director of Studies, Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is the Deputy Director of Studies, and the Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research special...