AFA’s Recruiting Task Force ‘Aims High’ in New Partnership with AFRS 

January 25, 2024   |   By Patrick Reardon

The Air & Space Forces Association and the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service are teaming up to leverage AFA’s nationwide Chapter network as influencers and ambassadors for the Air and Space Forces.  

The partnership is an outgrowth of a year’s work by a volunteer-led committee working in close collaboration with the recruiting service, yielding an official memorandum of understanding between the organizations announced January 12 at AFA’s annual Field Leadership Summit in Arlington, Va. 

AFA launched “AFA AIMS,” a new recruiting support campaign, to spearhead the partnership. “AIMS” is short for “Advocates to Inspire Military Service.”  

This initiative comes at a crucial point in Air Force history. Last fiscal year the Air Force missed its recruiting goal for the first time in 24 years. Studies show only 23 percent of American youth today are eligible for military service; less than 10 percent of today’s youth are even interested. In fiscal 2023, Active-duty recruiting fell short of the goal by about 11 percent, while Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard recruiting were even further behind—30 percent under goal. 

“The current national security situation is as dangerous as we have ever known, and the recruiting crisis only exacerbates the worldwide risks facing our nation,” said AFA President & CEO Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.) “AFA’s new partnership with AFRS is an incredible opportunity to help inspire a new generation of young Americans to become Airmen and Guardians, and to ‘aim high’ by raising their hand to serve our nation.” 

AFA President & CEO Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.) and AFA Chair of the Board Bernie Skoch sign the Letter of Intent to partner with the USAF Recruiting Service at the AFA Field Leadership Summit in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 12, 2024. John “Soup” Campbell, Chair of AFA’s Recruiting Task Force, witnesses the signing virtually. Photo by Jud McCrehin/Staff

AFA chartered its recruiting task force in 2023 to identify how AFA members and Chapters could support the Air Force Recruiting Service which has the smallest footprint among all the service branches. The new AFA-AFRS partnership and AIMS program will reinforce that footprint with the help of 200 AFA Chapters and more than 113,000 members across the country.  

“AFRS is doing great work, but they’re stretched really thin,” said Lt. Gen. John Campbell, USAF (Ret.), the chair of AFA’s recruiting task force. “We’re looking for ways AFA members and Chapters can assist AFRS by reaching out to the community—our youth and their parents, teachers, coaches, and neighbors–and spreading the word what life is like in the military. There is a surprising lack of knowledge and a lot of incorrect information.  Most of our young people and many of their parents may not have ever met anyone who served, and we can fill that gap.”      

“AFRS and AFA are natural partners,” said AFRS Commander Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein. “[Our agreement] identifies areas where we can leverage AFA’s national reach in the community to augment our recruiters.” 

AFRS Commander Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein signs the Letter of Intent to partner with AFA for a new recruitment initiative. USAF photo.

Amrhein said his recruiters are challenged not only to locate and acquire talent, but to familiarize American youth about the benefits and opportunities of military service, including the importance of a strong national defense.  

At AFA’s National Convention and at the AFA Air, Space, & Cyber Conference last fall, Amrhein called on all Airmen and Guardians, past and present, to “tell their stories.” Those stories can open the imaginations of young Americans, providing a new and enlightened frame of awareness. AIMS seeks to make it easier for AFA members and field volunteers to do just that.  

“Our Chapters are the touchpoint with the communities and families where future Air and Space Force members live,” said AFA Chair of the Board Bernie Skoch. “With nearly 200 Chapters nationwide, we can help carry the Air and Space Forces messages. Our objective is to provide a consistent and modern set of programs that allow Chapters, and members, to complement the Air Force Recruiting Service mission.” 

To keep the AIMS campaign “consistent and correct,” AFA’s recruiting task force is developing an Influencer Toolbox (ITB), which will be an online resource hub for AFA Chapters and Field leaders where talking points, presentations, video clips, and other materials will be collected and maintained. The ITB will provide the tools to make sure members are up to date on current Air Force issues and are equipped to speak authoritatively about life in the Air and Space Forces.   

“Much has changed since most of us served and we need to understand and be able to speak about issues that affect perceptions of life in the Air Force,” Campbell said. “For instance, the Blended Retirement System is an enormous change, but few of us understand it well enough to tell a young man or woman how it affects them. The ITB won’t be fully ‘mission-capable’ on day one, but we want to put the framework in place and gradually populate it as time and energy permit. It will always be a work in progress.”     

Amrhein said AFRS looks forward to working with the Air & Space Forces Association, its Chapters, and members in tackling today’s challenging recruiting situation. 

“Our partnership will highlight the benefits of service to this great nation and more specifically the benefits of serving the U.S. Air and Space Forces,” he said. “It will also highlight the many ways an individual can serve in the Regular Air or Space Force, the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard, or as a Department of the Air Force Civil Servant. This partnership is the first of many that Air Force Recruiting Service will enter into to show what great opportunities await America’s best and brightest.”