September 12, 2005
Despite Good August, U.S. Army to Miss Recruit Goal
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army posted its best recruiting month in four years in August, but will still miss its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, officials said on Monday, as the Iraq war makes it difficult to attract new soldiers.
August, the penultimate month of fiscal 2005, saw the regular Army send more recruits into boot camp than any month since July 2001. But the part-time Army National Guard and Army Reserve, both missed their monthly goals again and will fall far short of their annual goals.
The regular Army was 6,972 recruits behind its year-to-date goal by the end of August, too big a deficit to make up with September's recruiting, officials said.
Iraq is the first test of the all-volunteer U.S. military during a protracted war. About 1,900 American troops have been killed and another more than 14,000 wounded.
Some defense analysts have argued that the United States may have to consider resuming the draft, abolished in 1973 during the Vietnam War era, if the military is unable to attract sufficient numbers of recruits. The Pentagon the idea.
The regular Army, aiming for 80,000 recruits this year, has achieved its goals for three months in a row after missing four straight. But officials conceded it will miss its goal for the full fiscal year for the first time in six years.
The situation was worse in the Army Reserve and in the National Guard, which is under the command of state governors. These part-time troops can be called to active duty by the Pentagon and they now make up about 40 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq.
The National Guard has missed its recruiting targets every month this fiscal year and was poised to miss its third straight annual recruiting goal.
The Army National Guard missed its recruiting goal by 18 percent in August and was 12,683 -- or 22 percent -- behind its year-to-date goal, certain to fall far short of its annual target of 63,002.
The Reserve, which last missed an annual goal in 1999, was short of its August target by 9 percent and 19 percent behind its year-to-date target. It also will miss its 2005 goal of attracting 28,485 recruits.
The Army has attributed the recruiting shortfalls to a growing wariness about military service because of the Iraq war and an economy that is creating more civilian jobs.
The Army has increased financial incentives for enlistment, added recruiters and bought advertisements appealing to young Americans' sense of patriotism.
In July, the Pentagon asked Congress to raise the maximum age for military enlistment to 42. The ceiling now is 35 for active-duty and 39 for the reserves or National Guard.
The Marine Corps made its August goal and was 2 percent ahead year-to-date. The Air Force and Navy both achieved their targets.