US Army

The Army has allocated $300 million in marketing and advertising over the next eight months in an effort to recruit 6,000 new soldiers. The initiative was approved by Congress and signed late last year by President Barack Obama following a years-long reduction of U.S. troops, notes a USA Today story.

The addition of so many recruits would be the largest annual year increase in the history of the volunteer force, which dates to 1973.

Of the total figure, the Army plans to spend $100 million on marketing efforts to reach new recruits. About 75% will be national ads, and 25% in local markets, according to Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, who leads Army Recruiting Command. Some $200 million is allocated to $40,000 signing bonuses for new recruits, while at least $10 million will be spent on bolstering the corps of recruiters and for processing recruits.

In addition to touting the signing bonuses, ads will highlight shorter enlistments as the Army now offers a two-year enlistment, down from the usual requirement of three, four or more years, USA Today reports. This is expected to appeal to high school seniors who want a break before college, Snow said. “The hope is that many short-termers will stay after being exposed to Army life.” Those two-year commitments will allow soldiers to earn money for college under the GI Bill.

The advertising campaign also comes on the heels of what the Army regards as a lower standard of recruiting in recent years. The quality of recruits is measured by high school graduation, performance on military aptitude tests and limiting the number of those who score poorly on those exams. The newspaper article points out that in 2005, due to difficulties in recruiting, the Army lowered the standards for soldiers it would accept.

The deadline for signing new recruits is Oct. 1, when the Army aims to reach its overall target of 476,000 active duty soldiers, up from the previous goal of 460,000. Meanwhile, President Trump has said he wants an even larger force—as many as 60,000 more soldiers.

For perspective, The Army National Recruiting was the No. 14 national radio advertiser in 2014, according to information provided to Inside Radio by Media Monitors. In 2015, it fell to No. 106.