June 29, 2005

U.S. Army ends 4-month recruiting slump in June

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, hard pressed toattract new soldiers amid the Iraq war, exceeded its monthlyrecruiting goal in June, ending four straight months ofshortfalls, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.

But the active-duty Army, three-quarters through fiscal2005, remained 14 percent -- about 7,800 recruits -- behind itsyear-to-date target and was in danger of missing its firstannual recruiting goal since 1999, officials said. Its goal forfiscal 2005, ending on Sept. 30, is 80,000 recruits.

"I will tell you that for the month of June, the UnitedStates Army active recruiting is over 100 percent of its goal,which is a turnaround from where they've been the last severalmonths," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, told an audience of Pentagon employees.

"So there's a bit of good news in here. We'll see how itworks out the rest of the year," Myers added.

Army officials have been expressing optimism about arecruiting turnaround in the summer months after high schoolgraduates begin to decide on careers.

Myers did not give specific figures, but military officialsprovided preliminary data showing the active-duty Army exceededits June recruiting goal of 5,650 by 507 and the Army Reserve,made up of part-time soldiers, topped its June target of 3,610by 41.

The final numbers for June, set to be released July 11,could be slightly different, officials said.

The Army Reserve remained about 2,350 behind itsyear-to-date target through the end of June. Its fiscal 2005goal is 22,175 recruits, officials said.


The Army provides most of the U.S. ground troops in theIraq war, in which more than 1,730 U.S. troops have beenkilled, with the Marine Corps providing a lesser number. Armyofficials have said potential recruits and their families havebeen wary of service during the Iraq war, and civilian jobopportunities also are affecting recruiting.

In May, the active-duty Army lowered its recruiting goaland still missed it by 25 percent. It also fell short inFebruary, March and April.

The Iraq war represents the first test of the all-volunteerU.S. military during a protracted war.

Some defense analysts have argued the United States mayhave to consider reviving the draft, abolished in 1973 duringthe tumult of the Vietnam War, if the military is unable toattract sufficient numbers of recruits. Defense SecretaryDonald Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administrationhave vigorously opposed the resumption of the draft.

Myers' comments came a day before Army officials were setto testify before Congress about recruiting problems.

Myers noted that re-enlistment among current troops hasbeen solid at the same time that recruiting new soldiers hasbeen a challenge. He said the military has sweetened financialincentives to enlist and added thousands of recruiters.

During his speech to the nation about Iraq on Tuesday nightfrom the Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina, President Bushdelivered a pitch for military service.

"We live in freedom because every generation has producedpatriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves.Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among thegreatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform," Bushsaid.