May 10, 2006

Army hits recruiting goal; Reserve, Guard miss

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, which fell short in
recruiting in fiscal 2005, met its April goal, but the Army
Reserve and Army National Guard missed their targets amid
persistent concern among potential recruits over the Iraq war.

The Pentagon released monthly military recruiting data on
Wednesday showing that the active-duty Army achieved its 11th
straight monthly goal.

But the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard, which
both also missed their fiscal 2005 recruiting goals, showed
fresh signs of weakness in April even as the Pentagon reduces
its reliance on these soldiers in Iraq.

Seven months into fiscal 2006, the Army is slightly ahead
of the number of recruits it had landed at the same time a year
ago. But because of the way the Army structured its 2006
monthly goals, a big chunk of the recruiting work remains to be
done in the summer months.

In a bid to make this year's goal, the Army announced a new
$1,000 enlistment bonus for graduating high school seniors who
get good marks on a standardized test and agree to enter boot
camp by September 30, the last day of the fiscal year. It is
the latest in a series of incentives intended to lure recruits.

The active-duty Army has set a goal to send 80,000 recruits
into boot camp in fiscal 2006, the same goal it missed by more
than 6,600 in fiscal 2005.

More than three years into the Iraq war, the Army continues
to provide the bulk of U.S. ground forces in Iraq. As recently
as last summer, 40 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq was Guard
and Reserve troops. The number is now about 20 percent, the
Pentagon said.

The Army Reserve, a force which can be summoned by the
Pentagon to active-duty from civilian life in times of need,
missed its April goal by 17 percent -- getting 2,164 recruits
compared to a target of 2,611. The Army Reserve stands 5
percent behind its year-to-date goal.

The Army National Guard, whose part-time soldiers come
under the command of state governors but can be mobilized by
the Pentagon in times of need, missed its April recruiting goal
by 10 percent but is still ahead of its year-to-date goal. It
got 5,875 recruits in April, compared to a goal of 6,530.


Army officials acknowledge that the war has complicated

"We get a lot of anecdotal evidence that recruiters are
facing a tougher challenge," said Julia Bobick, an Army
Recruiting Command spokeswoman, not only among potential
recruits but among skeptical parents.

"There's a lot more challenge in convincing them that Army
enlistment is still a good opportunity despite the war," Bobick

Bobick noted that an economy offering more civilian job
opportunities also has impacted recruiting.

In April, the active-duty Army got 5,684 recruits, topping
its goal of 5,400. It is 4 percent ahead of its year-to-date
goal, but still must land 42,947 more recruits by September 30.

Army officials have said the period from June through
September, when monthly goals are all much higher than last
year's, will determine whether the Army reaches its annual goal
or misses for the second straight year.

The active-duty Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force met their
April recruiting goals.

Fiscal 2005 was one of the toughest recruiting years since
the start of the all-volunteer military in 1973 during the
tumult of the Vietnam War era. Some analysts have said if the
military cannot attract enough recruits, the United States
might have to consider reinstating the draft.