- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2013

Fewer than one-quarter of today’s youth can qualify for Army service, making the recruitment of women even more important, the Army’s chief of staff said Monday.

“One of the reasons, obviously, women are becoming more important in the Army is because … we want to make sure that we make the opportunity available to the available pool of qualified men and women, and we have to make the best use of that talent as we move forward,” Gen. Raymond Odierno said at the American Enterprise Institute. “So for us, it’s really important that we increase those opportunities so we maximize the talent that is available to us.”

About 23 percent of today’s 18- to 24-year-olds can meet the Army’s physical and educational requirements, the general said. The problem of finding qualified applicants is so acute that recruiters now conduct programs to help would-be recruits prepare to serve.

At the same time, interest in joining the Army remains high, Gen. Odierno said: The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., had a record number of applicants this year, and for the first time last year, not everyone who wanted to re-enlist in the Army was allowed to do so.

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