Space Force, Air Force Total Force recruiting makes goal for Fiscal 2021

Master Sgt. Daniel McIntyre, Air Force Recruiting Service first sergeant, rings the bell during an AFRS ceremony celebrating each of the Total Force recruiting partners, active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, making goal and reaching end strength for Fiscal 2021.

Master Sgt. Daniel McIntyre, Air Force Recruiting Service first sergeant, rings the bell during an AFRS ceremony celebrating each of the Total Force recruiting partners, active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, making goal and reaching end strength for Fiscal 2021. The Space Force also made goal for the year. Ringing the bell is an AFRS tradition after annual recruiting numbers are achieved. This is the 21st year in a row the Air Force has rang the bell. (Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

Air Force Recruiters express enthusiasm during their Senior Leader Summit in August.

(Right) U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, commander of Air Force Recruiting Service, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Clinton Healey, senior enlisted leader of the 360th Recruiting Group, lead participants of the Senior Leadership Summit in a “Boy, am I enthusiastic!” chant at the National Conference Center, September 1, 2021, in Leesburg, Virginia. Headquarters, group and squadron leaders of AFRS were in attendance during a week-long conference discussing the current and future state of Air Force recruiting. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Conroy)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – For the first time in five years, each of the Total Force recruiting partners have reached or exceeded their recruiting goal and each has achieved its end strength for Fiscal 2021.

“It’s been another challenging year as we’ve continued to fight through the challenges of COVID but our recruiters have made every Air Force and Space Force goal. Our active duty Air Force recruiters made goal for the 21st straight year and our Guard and Reserve recruiters managed a Herculean lift, making goals even amidst record-high retention in the active Air Force, the source of many of our experienced and trained prior-service recruits,” said Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, Air Force Recruiting Service commander.

Thomas acknowledged that this is the first time in five years that the all three components, the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, have achieved their goal and end strength in the same year. 

“Undoubtedly, the Total Force recruiting concept is a success,” Thomas said. “We’ve still got work to do but we are aggressively moving the ball down the field and achieving historic levels of performance. The Guard and the Reserve, who rely on those coming off active duty to join their ranks, particularly have had to pedal exceptionally hard. I couldn’t be more proud of our Total Force recruiters’ resilience and determination to succeed during this challenging year.”

Regular Air Force gained 27,299 personnel, consisting of 26,641 enlisted and 658 officers. The Air Force Reserve gained approximately 8,800 personnel, about 7,300 enlisted and 1,500 officers. The Air National Guard gained 8,624 personnel, consisting of 7,869 enlisted and 755 officers. The U.S. Space Force recruiting team reached its goal of 404 future Guardians, with 395 enlisted and nine officers.

“Because of limited interaction with applicants, the recruiting environment was difficult in FY21 but ANG recruiters did an amazing job using inventive ways to attract talent,” said Col. Shaunte Cooper, ANG Advisor to the AFRS commander. “It was the determination and out- of-the-box thinking of the ANG Recruiting and Retention NCOs in the field that help us exceed our goal.”

Cooper added that for the last three years the Air National Guard has exceeded its officer and enlisted recruiting goals and the exceedingly high rate of retention of 92% helped the ANG surpass its end strength goal of 108,100 Airmen assigned.

For the Air Force Reserve, this marked its 21st consecutive year of making goal, but fiscal 2021 was the first time in five years it made end strength.

“For the first time since 2016, the Air Force Reserve Command has made end strength,” said Col. Eugene Smith, 367th Recruiting Group commander. “This allows us to meet or exceed Congressional end strength, which is crucial in the CAFR's (Chief of Air Force Reserve) mission for the Air Force Reserve and to support the combatant commanders throughout the world.”

Reserve recruiters overcame unprecedented challenges this year to meet these milestones including COVID-19 and shortages of service members separating from active duty. 

He added that with high retention rates from the active components, Reserve In-Service recruiters went the extra mile working extensively with those separating on the benefits of joining the Air Force Reserve.

“The 2021 Recruiting Year was one of the toughest recruiting years ever on our Reserve recruiters,” Smith said.  “Still ‘handcuffed’ with social distancing, no access to large gatherings, and no entry into schools, all the while concerned for the recruiters’ wellbeing, they charged on. They ensured they had the greatest personal protective measures in place and did the magic they do – went and got their goal.”

Additionally, Air Force Special Warfare recruiting reached goal for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal career field for the first time in 10 years.

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