The active-duty Army reached its recruiting target for the second straight month in July, but the summertime rebound might not be enough for the service to fulfill its annual goal, according to figures provided by a Pentagon spokesman yesterday.
The Army National Guard, meanwhile, missed its enrollment goal again, recruiting 4,712 members, 80 percent of its July goal of 5,920, spokesman Bryan Whitman said. The Guard has hit its target once in the past 19 months.
The U.S. Army Reserve also fell short of its goal, recruiting 2,131 reservists, 82 percent of its target of 2,585, Mr. Whitman said.
The Pentagon has blamed the recruiting shortfalls in part on an economy that is providing other opportunities to high school and college graduates. Opinion polls also show that young people and parents are turning away from Army service because of the ongoing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army and Marines have suffered the bulk of the casualties there.
Although he called July a “pretty good month” for active-duty recruiting, Mr. Whitman said the active-duty Army remains below its year-to-date recruiting goal. So far, 55,207 new recruits have enlisted, 89 percent of the year-to-date target of 62,385.
The Army measures its annual goal from October 2004 to September 2005, which coincides with the federal budget year. The Army is trying to enlist 80,000 by the end of September. Officials are not confident they will make up the shortfall by then, although they have made progress during the summer, which is considered the high season for recruiting, as recent high school graduates look for work.
The Army also has increased the number of recruiters in its ranks and augmented incentives for those signing up.
Officials say the shortfalls in recruiting won’t constrain Army operations in the near future, but it does pose long-term problems.
The active-duty Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are at or slightly ahead of their year-to-date goals, Mr. Whitman said. The Marine and Air Force reserves also are at their goals, but the Air National Guard is behind, he said.
Mr. Whitman said the military is generally meeting its goals for retaining members. Officials credit that to a desire on the part of the troops to finish the mission of making Iraq a stable democracy.