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Army closing recruiting stations, moves effort online

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Army officer said Friday that all of the service’s recruiting stations are now closing, as the military takes more dramatic steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, told Pentagon reporters the service will move to “virtual” recruiting, wooing recruits more aggressively through a variety of social media sites and other online activities. He said the shutdown is “happening right now as we speak,” and may continue through the weekend.

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The move comes as the Army works to recover from recruiting shortfalls and struggles in recent years, prompting leaders to develop more programs to reach young people online.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said it’s not yet clear how long the shutdown will last, saying the service will take things day by day.

“It’s all going to depend on duration” of the new virus, he said, adding that the Army was having a good recruiting year so far.

The Army met its enlistment goal in 2019, after failing to hit recruiting numbers a year earlier, for the first time in 13 years. The target goal for recruits was lowered from 76,500 in 2018 to about 68,000 last year.

Army leaders have increased the number of recruiters and beefed up efforts to connect with young people through online sports and similar events.

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