Army expects to miss goals for recruiting

March 24, 2005|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON - The Army expects to miss its recruiting goals for March and April, continuing a worrisome trend, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey reported yesterday.

February was the first month the Army missed a recruiting goal since May 2000, and Harvey said "the forecast" was for continued shortfalls in the next two monthly reports.

The Army hopes to bridge the gap by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, with a new recruiting effort promoting patriotism, Harvey said. It has increased by about a third the number of recruiters nationwide, he said.

For the first five months of the fiscal year - through February - the Army is 27 percent short of its overall goal. Still, the active-duty Army hopes to recruit 80,000 new soldiers by Sept. 30.

Active-duty Army recruiting achieved 94 percent of its goal for February. The Army Reserve reached 90 percent of its goal, but the beleaguered Army National Guard - citizen soldiers who have borne much of the burden in Iraq - reached only 75 percent of its goal for the month.

According to the Pentagon, 46 percent of all troops in Iraq are members of the National Guard or Reserves.

"Obviously, I'm concerned about the National Guard," Harvey told a Pentagon news briefing. "I am cautiously optimistic about the Reserve and the active component."

Harvey said the monthly results matter less than the Army's ability to meet its annual goal by year's end. It has done so every fiscal year since 1999.

Harvey acknowledged that an increasingly significant factor in the recruitment failures has been the reluctance of potential recruits' parents to let their children be put in harm's way in the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

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