Editor’s note: This article was updated May 22 at 3:59 p.m. EDT with a statement from the Army.
The Army has awarded more than 100 soldiers its new recruiting ribbon as the service leans on its rank and file to encourage new enlistees to join the service.
At least 58 soldiers were promoted and 104 were given the recruiting ribbon as part of the Soldier Referral Program, according to a report by Military.com’s Steve Beynon. The news site was the first to report the awards, citing internal service documents obtained by Military.com.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Ruth Castro said there have been 11,590 referrals since May 19. Those referrals led to 232 new recruits, she added.
“In 2023, the Army launched an initiative to turn every soldier into a recruiter and began offering promotion points to junior enlisted soldiers (E-1 to E-3) for referring individuals who begin basic training,” Castro said, adding that there have been 57 promotions as a result of the program.
The Soldier Referral Program began in January. Senior service leaders — Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston — said was “driven by Soldier suggestions” in a joint letter to the force. The move was intended to counter the recruiting shortfalls the service has faced in recent years.
Last year, the Army fell short of its recruiting goals by 15,000 troops — or 25% of its total goal. While testifying before Congress earlier this month, Wormuth told lawmakers that the service will fall short of its recruiting goals for a second year in a row, Army Times previously reported. That is all while increasing its target recruiting goal from 60,000 troops to 65,000 for this year.
“We are not going to make that goal,” Wormuth told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense earlier this month. “We are doing everything we can to get as close to it as possible. We are going to fall short.”
By March, the program had produced nearly 5,300 referrals since it began in January.
“To date, the Army witnessed success as it contracted over 76 new recruits since the start of this program and we expect solid growth as the command continues to build on the momentum to accomplish the mission,” Brian McGovern, the deputy director of public affairs for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said in a statement in March.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.