Facing recruiting challenges, US Army visits Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For the first time in more than a decade, the United States Army failed to meet its annual recruiting goal this year.

That's part of the reason why an Army general is visiting the metro area Monday.

The Army is competing against a strong economy where workers are in short supply.

The Army said this is the tightest labor market its faced since the beginning of the all-volunteer force. Kansas City has been identified as one of more than 20 regions of the nation where the Army is seeking to elevate its profile, showing young people who the military is not just infantry and tanks.

There are Army jobs in health care, information technology and logistics. In fact, the Army said 99 percent of its jobs have civilian counterparts.

"I think what you get in the Army, regardless of the status of the economic situation, is this level of leadership," Brig. Gen. D.A. Sims said. "You come into the Army for a period of time, whatever that period of time is. You leave with a maturity a level of leadership, an understanding of teamwork and how to build teams. That’s helpful to the community at large."

The Army said more than seven out of 10 young people do not meet its physical and moral qualifications to serve. That makes it difficult to find more than 70,000 recruits a year, without granting some waivers to the quality standards. Only 1 percent of Americans choose to serve in the military.

The Army is partnering with more than 700 corporations and other employers to guarantee recruits a job interview when they complete their service.