LATHAM, N.Y. — The New York Army National Guard was the only state Army National Guard to exceed its recruiting goals for the federal fiscal year, which ended on September 30, 2022.

The National Guard Bureau, which oversees the National Guards of 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, gave New York the goal of recruiting 1,175 Soldiers during the year.

New York brought in 1,210 new enlisted Soldiers. This works out to 103 percent of the recruiting goal. The New York Army National Guard also gained 159 new officers during the fiscal year. Again, this exceeded the target of 138 set by the National Guard Bureau.

According to data compiled by Army National Guard recruiting officials, Nevada was the state with the next most successful recruiting effort in the fiscal year 2022, recruiting 95.1 percent of the goal set by the National Guard Bureau.

By October 1, 2022, the New York Army National Guard’s assigned strength was 10,707 Soldiers. This is 105 percent of its authorized strength of 10,194.

Authorized strength is the number of Soldiers needed to fill all necessary positions.

This is the fourth year in a row the New York Army National Guard has met or exceeded its recruiting goals, according to Lt. Col. Josh Heimroth, the commander of the New York Army National Guard’s recruiting and retention battalion.

The New York Army National Guard has also successfully retained Soldiers who completed their original and follow-on enlistments.

The National Guard Bureau set a goal of retaining 1,300 Soldiers in the federal fiscal year 2022. New York had 1,406 Soldiers. This equates to 108% of the targeted goal.

Nationally, the Army National Guard has a strength of 329,700 Soldiers. According to the National Guard Bureau, the Guard was 6,000 members short of its recruiting goal for the fiscal year.

The active Army, overall, also faced a shortfall of Soldiers. As a result, the Army achieved only 75% of its 2022 recruiting goal, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

The Army, 20,000 Soldiers short of its recruiting goal, was the only service that didn’t meet its target.

Personnel experts attribute some of this to a thriving job market. Others point to the limitations of in-person engagement due to COVID restrictions.

But, according to Army officials, only about 23 percent of men and women in the prime age to join the Army can meet the physical fitness, education, and other requirements needed to join.

The New York Army Guard succeeded at enlisting new Soldiers because recruiting is important, according to Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York.

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“Other than Soldier safety, we have no higher priority than unit assigned strength,” Shields said.

“We placed attention on recruiting and retention and the results have been remarkable,” he added.

Recruiting enough Soldiers means more than just bragging rights, Shields said.

“We cannot be successful and do what the nation and state ask of us without Soldiers in our ranks,” Shields said.

Since 2020, the New York National Guard has deployed over 7,000 troops to assist in the state’s COVID-19 response while sending almost 2,000 Soldiers to the Horn of Africa for security duties, Kuwait for support efforts to mission across the Middle East, and Europe to train Ukrainian Soldiers.

The Army National Guard also fought wildfires, responded to windstorms and snowstorms, and most recently sent two helicopters to Florida to assist in the recovery from Hurricane Ian.

Heimroth credited New York’s well-trained and motivated full-time recruiting force of 207 Soldiers for the success of the recruiting effort.

Shields concurred.

The success of New York Army National Guard recruiters during a year in which other states did not meet their number “speaks volumes on the hard work of our recruiting and retention team,” Shields said.

“Their work is the very foundation of our organization; people are our highest priority,” Shields said.

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This piece is written by Eric Durr from the New York National Guard. Want to feature your story? Reach out to us at [email protected]