San Diego Union Tribune

August 11, 2005

Armed services fall just short of recruiting goals
July numbers up, but Army unlikely to hit annual mark

By Otto Kreisher

WASHINGTON – A combination of recent high school graduates, extra recruiters and added incentives helped nearly all of the armed services meet or exceed their recruiting goals in July, the Pentagon announced yesterday.

The Navy was short only 41 new sailors, or 1 percent off its goal.

But despite its second straight month of successful recruiting, the Army remains well below its annual requirement for new soldiers and, with only two months left in the fiscal year, is unlikely to make up the deficit, a Pentagon official said.

"Success for the year is still going to be a challenge," said William Carr, acting deputy undersecretary for military personnel policy.

The Army has not missed an annual recruiting goal since 1999.

The continued heavy activation and high casualty toll in Iraq of military Reserve and National Guard personnel have affected nearly all of the services. All four branches, however, are predicting that they will meet their goals for re-enlisting current personnel.

The summer months are historically the best time for military recruiters, since new high school graduates are on the streets and looking for work. Officials say better incentives, including signing bonuses of $20,000 and offers of up to $70,000 for college, are also partly responsible for the increase.

The Marine Corps' ability to hit its monthly recruiting targets for both its active and Reserve components, despite its disproportionately high casualty rate in Iraq, reflects the aggressive performance of its recruiters and the Marines' enduring reputation.

Although they make up less than 17 percent of the U.S. forces in Iraq, the Marines have suffered about 30 percent of the deaths. And 24 of the 35 Marines who died in Iraq and Afghanistan since June were reservists.

But, after missing monthly recruiting goals for three months early this year, the Corps has signed up 102 percent of its annual requirement for new active-duty Marines and is meeting its goals so far for the reserves.

The Army, which has accounted for most of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been able to recruit only 89 percent of its goal so far this year, despite getting 109 percent of its July quota.

The Army Reserve and Army National Guard are doing even worse, signing up only 80 percent and 77 percent respectively of their total requirement so far this fiscal year.

The Air National Guard also is falling well short of its recruiting needs, getting only 87 percent of its July quota and 83 percent of its total requirements in the first 10 months of the fiscal year.

The Air Force Reserve, by contrast, slightly exceeded its July goal and has 113 of its annual requirements so far.

Despite missing its July goal by 46 percent, the Navy Reserve has recruited slightly more than its annual quota this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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