Our military recruitment is looking dreary.

Last month, SOFREP reported about the military’s challenge in recruiting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, based on the current trend, the numbers kept treading downwards even after the pandemic restrictions. Aside from the recruitment numbers, the US Air Force is also introducing a pay cut for its recruiters each month starting this coming October.

The Pentagon has asked Congress to reduce Special Duty Pay between $75-$450 each month until 2023, which can account for as much as $5,400 lost in annual wages. Air Force Recruiters are among those receiving this pay.

Aside from the extreme challenge of getting people in the force to train and be enlisted, this pay cut will come as a blow to recruiter morale. Recruiters work long days, including overtime and weekends, to help the US Air Force meet its goals. The overtime is covered, but this brings them back to simply covering some of the pay cuts that would be introduced soon. Not to mention, everyone is experiencing inflation (which peaked at 9% this summer).

The special duty pay is accounted for when they recruit someone with a higher degree level with the hopes of assigning them more significant responsibilities.

The Air Force Academy received 8,393 applications for the class of 2026, a 28% drop from last year. Officials note this is influenced by the pandemic, but we also have a theory that the issue could be more than that.

“A lot of schools did not allow us access to a lot of gatherings and a lot of conferences. … A lot of those things were canceled,” Col. Arthur Wayne Primas Jr., the academy’s director of admissions, told Military.com in an interview. “So we really had to shift for the class of 2026 onto a virtual platform.”

The Air Force also announced chunky enlistment bonuses of up to $50,000 to entice recruits into the more hard-to-fill technical jobs.