The next Army recruiting tool amid a slump? It could be the metaverse.

ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Army must embrace online tactics and virtual worlds to attract younger generations and retain them as soldiers, the deputy commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command said, as the service is again expected to miss its recruitment goals.

Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais on May 21 told attendees of the GEOINT Symposium in St. Louis that the Army, the military’s largest branch, must “leverage immersive-type environments to expand awareness of the numerous opportunities available when you serve,” especially in a recruiting environment that is “the toughest it has ever been since the inception of the all-volunteer force 50 years ago.”

The service missed its fiscal 2022 recruiting goal by roughly 15,000 new soldiers, leaving it shorthanded. Another shortfall is expected for 2023.

Among the most promising new technologies that could help reverse the trend, Gervais said, is the metaverse: a heady subject that is different things to different people, but boils down to the meshing of in-hand peripherals with immersive digital spaces, social interaction from wherever and an online presence foreign to older crowds.

“We already do some things, but our reach is extremely limited. And we need to do better connecting with our younger generations,” Gervais said. “The metaverse could be a way to extend our reach, improve our brand awareness through advertisement placement, and creating an experience, which could pique the interest and expand the awareness of serving in the military for our youth.”

Searches for “metaverse” peaked in late 2021 and early 2022, according to Google Trends, and

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