- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Army has exceeded its recruiting goal for June after four months of shortfalls that have left the service off pace of its annual goal of 80,000 recruits, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a town hall meeting of Pentagon personnel that the recruiting picture had improved.

“I will tell you that, for the month of June, United States Army active recruiting is over 100 percent of its goal, which is a turnaround from where they’ve been in the last several months,” he said. “So there’s a bit of good news in here, and we’ll see how it works out the rest of the year.”

Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the Army has not formally announced its numbers, said the Army Reserve also met its recruiting goal for the month.

The Army’s goal for its active-duty force in June was 5,650 recruits. More than 6,150 have signed up, the officials said, citing preliminary statistics from recruiting stations.

The Army Reserve hoped to sign up 3,610; it has barely exceeded that goal, the officials said.

There were no figures available for the Army National Guard, which also is well behind its annual goal.

Pentagon officials attributed the increase in recruits to the end of the school year. The summer months are typically when the services draw the most interest. The higher goals in the coming month reflect that.

But many young people and parents are turning away from Army service because of the ongoing combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, opinion polls show. The Army also says today’s economy offers attractive alternatives to many high school and college graduates.

In response, the Army has increased incentives for those signing up and augmented its recruiting force.

The nation’s No. 2 general said yesterday that America’s parents should not stand in the way of sons and daughters who want to join the military, but should let them follow their patriotic instincts.

“Those who are looking to serve this country should be encouraged to do so,” said Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A Marine whose son also is in the Marine Corps, Gen. Pace said the key is “to encourage our young people … to come forward to help defend this nation … and to encourage the families of those young folks to let them follow their instincts.”

The active-duty Army is still 7,800 recruits behind its year-to-date goal. The service hoped to recruit 80,000 into its ranks between Oct. 1, 2004, and this Sept. 30.

The Army also missed its targets in April, March and February. Each month was worse than the one before. In February, the Army fell 27 percent short; in March the gap was 31 percent, and in April it was 42 percent.

In May, the Army fell about 25 percent short of its target of signing up 6,700 recruits. The gap would have been wider but for the fact that the target was lowered by 1,350. The June target was not lowered, officials said.

The Army Reserve is more than 2,350 behind its year-to-date goal. Reserve forces throughout the military have been missing recruiting goals.


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