Thursday, June 2, 2005

The Pentagon, hard-pressed to meet recruiting goals for the all-volunteer armed forces, yesterday delayed announcing enlistment numbers for May until June 10.

A spokesman said the services want to take more time to analyze the numbers - which typically are released on the first of the month - and explain them to the public.

The Army and Marine Corps have missed monthly goals this year, but spokesmen for both services said they expect recruiting to pick up this summer after high school graduation. Officials predict they will meet enlistments by Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The Army has increased enlistment bonuses and, in a more dramatic move, offered 15-month enlistments, instead of four-years. Army officials say the problem in signing up 80,000 recruits this year stems, in part, from battlefield deaths in Iraq that are causing high school students to have second thoughts.

They also blame an improving economy and the Army’s expansion of 30,000, requiring more soldiers at the beginning of the pipeline.

The Air Force and Navy continue to meet recruiting benchmarks.

The Army missed goals in February and March by a few percentage points, then fell a much larger 42 percent behind in April.

The Marine Corps needs just more than 38,000 recruits this year.

Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the head of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said last month that these are ?the most challenging conditions we have seen in recruiting in my 33 years in this uniform.?

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