A Navy spokesman confirmed that Rear Adm. Alexis Walker -- the head of recruiting command -- has ordered all recruiters to work a six-day workweek after Navy emails announcing the change began to surface on social media. In an email that was sent to the whole of Navy Recruiting Command, Walker said the command couldn't "wait a minute longer" to make the change.
Lt. Cmdr. Rich Parker, a spokesman for the recruiting command, told Military.com in an email that the change will take effect on July 8 and "it is expected to affect staff from the top down."
The move comes as the Navy, like most of the other military branches, struggles to meet its recruiting goals for the year. In April, the Navy's second-highest officer, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, told Congress that the sea service expected to miss its recruiting goals by 6,000 sailors. The 2023 goal is about 37,000 sailors.
Last year, the Navy made its annual active-duty enlistment goal by just 42 sailors, recruiting a total of 33,442. It missed all of the other active-duty and reserve targets, including active-duty officers -- coming up just over 200 short. In order to make that goal, the Navy dipped into its pool of delayed-entry applicants. As a result, there is less of a reserve of recruits waiting to ship out, making this year's targets harder to meet.
Given the challenges facing the Navy's recruiting command, the service appears to be considering measures that go beyond longer workweeks. Other screenshots posted to social media suggested that the chief of naval personnel was going to order sailors slated for recruiting duty to report to their new posts six months early and keep recruiters already serving in place for an extra year.
Lt. Rachel Maul, a spokeswoman for the Navy's personnel command, told Military.com that while "there have been no official policy changes to recruiting duty orders, early transfers, or extensions," she said that "the Navy is considering all available options in order to fully man our recruiting stations as we continue to address the projected recruiting shortfalls for 2023."
While Navy leaders acknowledge that the longer hours "may be met with some hesitation," Parker stressed in his email that "our duty is to bring the best and most qualified recruits into the Navy."
Aside from the extra effort by recruiters, the Navy has also taken to offering some of the largest bonuses in recent memory to get recruits into the door. Sailors willing to ship out before the fall can get $35,000 before any extra money for choosing an in-demand job.
In all, the Navy's recruiting website says that sailors could earn $140,000.
Last year, Navy recruiting officials told Military.com that the massive sums of money were necessary "to be competitive with the strong civilian labor market, recognizing that we are in competition for the best and the brightest young Americans from all walks of life."
However, in the civilian sector, the concept of cutting back to a four-day workweek has been gaining traction. A handful of countries in Europe have tested the idea with trial runs with positive results. While the idea has yet to take off in the U.S., it is gaining popularity and discussion.
"I am not being dramatic when I say that our inability to bring in the right numbers and types of people...impacts our ability to fight and win," Walker wrote in his email to recruiters.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.