- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 17, 2002

The Pentagon could attract more military recruits by stressing old-fashioned themes, such as duty to country, and its advertising campaign should aim to raise young people's interest in the armed services not just to meet annual enlistment quotas, a new study concludes.
"One way is to increase the importance young adults place on patriotic values, such as 'doing something for the country,' 'self-sacrifice,' and 'opportunity for adventure,'" the study by the National Academies' National Research Council shows.
It also suggests expanding ways for enlistees to simultaneously serve and pursue a college degree. The most dramatic social change affecting military enlistment is the increase in college attendance.
"Delaying college is seen as less and less attractive," said Paul R. Sackett, University of Minnesota psychology professor and chairman of the committee that wrote the study titled "Attitudes, Aptitudes and Aspiration of American Youth Implications for Military Recruitment."
In the early 1970s, less than half of high school seniors went on to college. By 1999, 63 percent of high school graduates were enrolling in college the same year they graduated, the study shows.
Defense Department officials said they commissioned the study to help improve recruiting efforts.
The Defense Department is the country's largest employer, with 1.2 million men and women on active duty and 672,000 civilians.
Despite meeting their goals in recent years, recruiters still face a big challenge, defense officials have said. The 300-page study notes that since September 11, there has been a slight shift in attitudes toward the military, but to date, there is no evidence of increased interest in enlistment.
"Even with the instability in the economy and the loss of civilian jobs in many sectors in 2000-2001, interest in the military has not increased," according to the study released Thursday.
In the late 1990s, the Army, Navy and Air Force struggled to attract recruits, partly because of the availability of higher-paying civilian jobs, a higher rate of people going to college and the fact that fewer young people know anyone in uniform or think of the military as a potential career.
The services are dramatically smaller, seeing a consistent drop since 1987, the study shows. Between 1987 and 2000, the number of active enlisted forces decreased by 38 percent, from 1.85 million to 1.15 million members.
During the same period, the reserve enlisted force fell by 26 percent, from 989,000 to 733,000, the study shows.
The recruiting record has improved in the past few years as the military spent more money on recruiters, incentives for enlisting, more advertising and provided computers in the barracks for those who want to get an online education, the study shows.
The Air Force began its first-ever paid television advertising campaign in 2000 after failing to meet its 1999 recruitment goal. The Army changed advertising agencies and adopted its "An Army of One" recruiting campaign.
Researchers were asked to study demographics, attitudes and values of American youth, and how they affect recruitment. Researchers also were asked to recommend strategies for recruiting, advertising and incentive programs that might increase interest.
The study suggests advertising should focus on raising the overall level of people inclined to join the military. It recommended that officials review the portion of advertising that focuses on military service as a whole as opposed to ads for the specific services.
"Additional advertising and other recruiting practices can then focus on the choice between the services to make it more attractive, and leaving the choice about which branch to join later," the study says.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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