The Army met its goal in signing up more than 68,000 active-duty soldiers before the end of fiscal year 2019. And it’s on track to make roughly the same number for 2020 as it pushes to grow to a 500,000-strong active-duty force by the end of the next decade.

The Army’s recruiting goal for 2020 is “north of 68,000” soldiers, Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said in early November.

But he hasn’t officially received the mission letter announcing the new number, Muth cautioned.

Still, recruiters are ahead of schedule.

“Last year, we were behind from day one at about 4,000 [recruits]. Right now, the model has us over by about 600,” Muth said.

In 2018, the Army set its sights on enlisting 80,000 soldiers, but adjusted its goal in the middle of the year to about 76,500, only to fall short at roughly 70,000 in the end. The 68,000 number used in 2019 and 2020 is much more modest.

The Army has also put a lot of investment into a new recruiting campaign, spearheaded by a new Chicago-based marketing team intent on harnessing big data analytics and the digital space to find potential soldiers.

The marketing team left its long-time headquarters near the Pentagon for Chicago this fall in an effort to get closer to private-industry talent — including DDB Chicago, the firm that won a $4 billion contract to serve as the Army’s full-service ad agency until 2028.

The first ad campaign by the new team was released in November. Called “What’s Your Warrior?”, the campaign’s focus is on enticing potential recruits of Generation Z by highlighting the Army’s non-combat roles.

Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.

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