The U.S. Army’s Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, have been struggling to meet their recruitment goals for several years. While there was a brief period of exceeding targets in 2021, data indicates a continuing decline, which is attributed not only to fewer recruits but also a decline in the quality of applicants who can pass the selection process.
- Recruitment data shows the Army’s Special Forces consistently falling short of their recruitment goals each year since 2018. The number of new Special Forces soldiers recruited between 2018 and 2020 averaged 1,011 per year, missing the annual goal of 1,540. In 2022, only 779 recruits were brought in.
- The Army has also faced issues with the quality of recruits, with fewer Green Beret applicants passing the grueling selection course each year. The passing rate for applicants was between 60% and 80% in the early 2010s, but this rate has dropped to between 45% and 60% in recent years.
- The declining recruitment numbers may be a sign of a broader shift in the Army’s approach, with a focus moving towards conventional warfare over special operations. This shift is expected to invest more into large formations of conventional troops, cyber warfare, and long-range missiles.
- Public representation of Special Forces in the Army’s online presence and recruitment campaigns is minimal. While the 75th Ranger Regiment maintains an active online presence, Special Forces’ representation is largely limited to certain Instagram accounts.
- Despite a decrease in recruitment numbers, the Army has been hesitant to shorten the Special Forces training pipeline. Such a move would help to fill units faster but could potentially lead to a further decrease in the quality of Green Berets.