- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005


The Army expects to miss its recruiting goals this month and next and is working on a revised sales pitch appealing to the patriotism of parents, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey said yesterday.

Regardless of whether that boosts enlistment numbers, Mr. Harvey said, he sees no chance of a military draft.

“The ‘D’ word is the farthest thing from my mind,” he said at a Pentagon press conference, his first since becoming the Army’s top civilian official in November.

Because of military manpower strains caused by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, some in Congress have raised the possibility of reinstituting the draft, although there is a strong consensus against it among Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the military chiefs.

This is the first time the United States has been in a sustained period of combat since the all-volunteer force was introduced in 1973. The Air Force and Navy, which have relatively smaller roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, have no recruiting problems, but the Army and Marines are hard-pressed.

The Army missed its recruiting goal for February by 27 percent, and that was the first time it had missed a monthly goal since May 2000. The last time it missed its full-year goal was 1999.

As of Feb. 28, the regular Army had 6 percent fewer recruits than it had expected to sign up at that point in the recruiting year. The Army Reserve was 10 percent off and the Army National Guard was 25 percent off.

The Army is forecasting that all three elements — active, Guard and Reserve — will fall short of their targets for March and April. That means they will have to make up the lost ground this summer to meet full-year goals.

“I’m clearly not going to give up,” Mr. Harvey said. “At this stage, we still have six months to go” before the recruiting year ends Sept. 30. “I’ve challenged our human-resource people to get as innovative as they can. And even as we speak, we’ve got a number of new ideas.”

One of the new approaches is designed to persuade more parents to steer their children to the Army.

“We’re going to appeal to patriotism,” he said.

That might be done through an advertising campaign, Mr. Harvey said. He also is encouraging more members of Congress and senior Army leaders to spend time in communities touting the benefits of military service.

The Army also has increased the number of recruiters on the street by 33 percent and is offering bigger sign-up bonuses. The Army announced last week that the National Guard and Reserve were raising the maximum age for recruits from 34 to 39 to expand the pool of enlistees. The regular Army could not raise the maximum age without congressional approval.

Some have suggested that the Army could ease its recruiting crunch if the Pentagon altered its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that permits homosexuals to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves. Mr. Harvey, however, said he opposes changing the policy.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide