The Army is considering establishing a new ribbon that troops would receive for referring applicants to the service, officials confirmed to Army Times.
The Army missed its recruiting goals by around 15,000 troops in fiscal 2022, and it’s scrambling to improve those numbers to prevent the current end-strength crisis from deepening.
The service “is working to develop an Army Recruiting Ribbon” that would be awarded to those who successfully refer applicants to recruiters, an Army official, who was not named because the individual was not authorized to publicly discuss “pre-decisional” proposals, told Army Times recently.
The official added that “the eligibility requirements for the recruiting ribbon [will] not be limited by rank or grade,” if and when it is established.
Matt Leonard, an Army spokesperson, said the service “continues to develop innovative ways to recruit high-quality Soldiers,” but he did not comment on the planned ribbon.
“We are leveraging the talents within the total force to help us better connect with young people and their influencers to highlight the numerous career options available within the Army and how the Army can help them accomplish their goals,” Leonard said.
While the service currently awards badges for successful recruiters to wear on their uniforms, there is no current award or decoration for active duty troops who help recruiters.
Some similar initiatives exist in the Army National Guard, where many states and territories award their own state-level ribbons for successful referrals. It’s not clear, though, whether the proposed Army Recruiting Ribbon will also be available for Guardsmen and members of the Army Reserve.
Between 2005 and 2012, the National Guard Bureau allowed a contractor to pay recruiting referral bonuses, which led to scandal over alleged fraud and an overzealous criminal investigation that punished innocent troops.
In September, Bureau revealed they were considering a similar program today, noting that the original program successfully kept the Guard’s ranks filled during the troops surges in Iraq and Afghanistan in the late 2000s.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood’s WWII movies.