New ‘Total Force’ Site Highlights Guard and Reserve Opportunities

The Air Force now has a single website to manage all its recruiting needs, covering Active Duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve recruiting. Legacy sites and will now direct users to the central site.

By approaching recruiting centrally as a Total Force, Air Force Recruiting Service is simplifying the picture the Air Force presents to potential recruits.

“We’re trying to portray the Air Force as an organization where you can serve in many different capacities,” AFRS marketing director Barry Dickey told Air & Space Forces Magazine in an interview. “Having all of those options and all that information on one website—I can be in the Guard, serve part-time and have a state mission that helps my local area a lot, or I can be a full-time … deployable Airman and travel around the world and do those things—we wanted to make sure that we were telling that story in one single location. And that anybody that went on there could find out all of the information they wanted on a single site.” 

A new “Ways to Serve” page highlights part-time and full-time careers and visitors can explore the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve in more detail. The Guard page ifeatures several videos highlighting personal stories from Guardsmen. 

Updated “Benefits,” “Locations,” and “How to Join” pages, along with information on the different opportunities and requirements broken down by component, are included, and the initial online application process is now standardized across all components.  

“The new Total Force application explains the overall process, directs all applicants to one simplified, secure form to select which component they’re most interested in, and follows a few simple steps to capture necessary information for recruiters,” AFRS stated in a release. 

The decision to transition to one central site started in 2021, Dickey said, as the AFRS took over marketing for all the different components. Conducting market research, the service found that “a lot of people know the components, but they don’t know a lot about them or how they’re different,” Dickey said. 

“So we wanted to highlight those differences, just to show that there are multiple ways that you can serve in the Air Force. And then if you’re a currently serving Airmen, there’s a continuum of service that you can fall back on if you want to stay in a blue uniform. … What our research showed was that there just wasn’t a lot of knowledge about the specifics of the components out there.” 

The domain is already the most viewed and searched among the three, and by not relegating the Guard and Reserve to separate sites, all components can benefit. Data showed averaged around 2 million users per month—24 million or so per year–compared with 3.7 million per year for, and a slightly smaller number for 

“Our thought is just to drive more traffic to content about the Guard or the Reserve—we can do it better through than we could through those other two websites,” Dickey said, adding that one website increases the service’s marketing buying power, with only one site to advertise and funnel people to. 

Beyond buying power, though, Dickey said the new consolidated site is part of a shift toward a more unified, recruit-friendly approach. 

“I think we’ve realized we have a better consolidated message across the board if we focus on trying to fit the needs of a person who wants to come into the service,” Dickey said. “And we can do that through things like this new total force It’s just a better user experience for them, and we think we can meet the needs of the components through this methodology.” 

Air Force Recruiting commander Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas said in a statement that the new site will showcase “the unique strengths, opportunities—and importantly, the flexibilities—of each component in one place.” 

The emphasis on flexibility could be especially key as the Air Force looks to entice recruits in a competitive job market. The service barely met its Active-Duty recruiting goals for fiscal 2022 and fell short for the Guard and Reserve. 

Things are off to a better start in 2023—a Pentagon spokesman said Feb. 6 that in the first quarter of the fiscal year, the Air National Guard increased accessions in 11 percent year-over-year.