July 22, 2005

Pentagon seeks higher age limit for recruits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Faced with major recruiting problems
sparked by troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the
Pentagon has asked Congress to raise the maximum age for U.S.
military enlistees from 35 to 42 years old.

The request, sent to lawmakers this week, would apply to
all active duty branches of the military services, said Air
Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, on Friday.
But it is aimed chiefly at the active duty Army, which has
fallen far short of recruiting goals this year, by adding
millions of potential enlistees.

The Army has provided most of the 140,000 U.S. ground
troops in Iraq and has also relied heavily on part-time
soldiers from the National Guard and Reserve for year-long
deployments there.

Krenke said the active duty Air Force, Navy and Marine
Corps, which are meeting their recruiting goals, were unlikely
to change their current policy of declining to accept recruits
older than 35.

The new proposal would not change the limit of 39 years old
for those with previous military service who seek to enlist in
the Army Reserves and National Guard.

The Army National Guard, struggling more than any other
part of the U.S. military to sign up new troops amid the Iraq
war, missed its ninth straight monthly recruiting goal in June.

The regular Army met its recruiting goal this month, but is
still 14 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target and
is in danger of missing an annual recruiting goal for the first
time since 1999. The Army Reserve is 21 percent behind its
year-to-date goal and also in danger of falling short for the