USAF Recruiting Commander Calls on AFA Delegates to ‘Tell Their Stories’
September 10, 2023 | By Patrick Reardon
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 10, 2023 — Brig. Gen. Christopher Amrhein, Commander of the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service, attended the Air & Space Forces Association’s annual National Convention to brief AFA delegates from around the world on the current recruitment environment faced by the Air Force—and how the AFA Field can help improve its condition.
Amrhein emphasized that while talent acquisition is becoming harder and more expensive for the Air Force, American youth is becoming increasingly more disconnected from the military. He cited research that shows only 11 percent of young adults between 17 and 35-years-old can even name all of the U.S. branches of military.
While it’s a commonly cited statistic that only 23 percent of American youth are eligible to enlist, Amrhein said that less than half that amount are even interested. Of the 20.3 million Americans between 17 and 21 years old, only 370,000 are eligible, academically qualified, and inclined toward an Air or Space Force career, Amrhein reports. That disconnect is partly generational, he said.
“[In] 1995, if there were 100 people in the room and I asked how many had a parent who served or is serving, 40 hands would have gone up,” Amrhein said. “I ask that question now … and about 13 or 14 hands go up. There’s nobody in their family that’s telling their story.”
Out of that generational disconnection, Amrhein said, comes unfamiliarity with what a job in the Air Force entails.
“[Someone once told me], ‘I didn’t realize the Air Force had people in the medical field, I thought the Army did that,’” Amrhein said. “That is how disconnected our society is right now. And so, getting out there and telling our story [is] what it’s about.”
Of all the services’ recruiters, the Air Force has the smallest footprint. Amrhein said there is about one Army recruiter per square mile in certain areas of San Antonio, while the Air Force has, on average, one recruiter covering a 33-mile radius around the city.
“We have four recruiters for the entire state of Montana,” Amrhein said. “How can we make up the difference? Or, I use the ‘Moneyball’ term: How do I make it up in the aggregate? That’s where partnerships are gonna come in.”
When Active-duty and retired service members and their families tell their stories, it will serve as a catalyst, reinspiring the next generation of Airmen and Guardians, Amrhein said. He said the Air Force Recruiting Services’ fledgling partnership with AFA and AFA’s recruiting task force are great places to start.
“Where I’d really like to be in the coming weeks or months is [with] some kind of TTP [tactics, techniques, and procedures] document that we can then get out to all the Chapters. That gets them linked in with all of the local recruiting stations, and then [we can] figure out the best way to partner,” Amrhein said.
Looking ahead, Amrhein said AFA’s Chapters around the country will be vital resources to tell the Air and Space Force story—why they joined, why they stayed, and what they received from their military career.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Amrhein said, referring to the prospect of working more closely with AFA. “Over 200 Chapters and over 125,000 members—that’s a pretty strong force, if you ask me.”
Amrhein is taking his presentation to the big stage on Sept. 11, at the 2023 Air, Space & Cyber Conference for a panel called, “Every Airman and Guardian a Recruiter” to share his concerns, research, and strategic calls-to-action with more than 17,000 conference attendees. He will be joined by Chief Master Sgt. Rebecca A. C. Arbona, Command Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Recruiting Service.