- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The Army, which is losing the most troops in Iraq, missed its active-duty recruiting target by 6 percent in the first half of this fiscal year, which ended March 31.

The Marine Corps, meanwhile, met its goal for shipping new recruits to boot camp and missed by less than 1 percent the target for signing up inductees the past six months. That shortfall, military officials said, largely was a result of missing targets in the notoriously slow recruiting months of January and February.

“We’re not as excited as a lot of folks out there are because we are moving along. We are not far off our goals,” Maj. David Griesmer, spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Va., said yesterday.

Maj. Griesmer said recruiting historically gets easier starting in June after high school graduation.

“We’re not that far off,” he said. “We’re in a different category than the Army. I’m not trying to throw mud on them, but their shortfalls are in a different category.”

Maj. Griesmer said the Marines expect by fiscal year’s end Sept. 30 to meet a shipping number of 39,150 recruits, which include 6,100 reservists. The Corps also is “optimistic” it will meet the sign-up goal of 38,195.

The Marines last missed their new-contracts quota in 1995; the Army in 1999. Both services site casualties from the war on terror, and high deployment rates, for creating the demanding recruiting environment.

They also must pull in more inductees to meet recently increased total forces — the Army is growing by 30,000; the Marines by 3,000.

Still, both services predict that by Sept. 30, they will achieve active-duty targets for new recruits and for retaining veteran combatants.

“Though we may miss some monthly goals, the active Army is projected to make their annual mission,” Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, told the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee this week.

More troublesome is recruiting for the Army National Guard and Reserve. The Pentagon is relying heavily on Reserve units to fight the war on terror, calling up troops for one year or more and subjecting them to recalls.

The Army fell 26 percent short of new National Guard recruits since Oct. 1. Officials say part of that is because the Army is keeping more soldiers on active duty, thus shrinking the pool from which the Guard recruits. But they also acknowledge that frequent call-ups have candidates worried about time away from job and family.

The Army Reserve, which supplies doctors, military police and other skilled soldiers, fell 10 percent short on recruiting the past six months.

The Army is attacking the problem by offering bonuses to new recruits of up to $20,000 and college tuition money.

Both the Army and Marines are reaching out to parents. Moms and dads exercise strong influence on high school students and worry about casualty rates in the war. More than 1,500 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

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