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Nine-Month Trend in Recruiting, Retention Success Continues

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2006 – Recruiting and retention statistics released today reflect continued across-the-board success and continuation of a nine-month trend, officials said.

A top Pentagon official called that a testament to hard work by recruiters and broad public respect for the military in light of the economic boom under way.

"February, in recruiting, was another really solid month," said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, during an interview with the Pentagon Channel.

In active-duty recruiting, the Army achieved 102 percent of its February goal, bringing more than 6,100 soldiers into the force. The Navy and Marine Corps both achieved 104 percent of their goals, recruiting almost 2,700 and more than 1,700 new members, respectively. The Air Force met 101 percent of its goal, recruiting more than 2,300 airmen.

Reserve and National Guard recruiting remained strong, too, particularly for the Army, which represents 80 percent of the entire reserve-component force. The Army National Guard met 101 percent of its February goal, with almost 6,600 recruits, and the Army Reserve attracted almost 2,300 new members, 97 percent of its goal. The Air Force Reserve achieved 117 percent of its goal, recruiting 573 airmen.

Three reserve components fell short of their February goals. The Air National Guard reached 88 of its goal; the Marine Corps Reserve, 86 percent; and the Navy Reserve, 81 percent. These components recruited 680, 469 and 710 members, respectively.

Carr called the overall recruiting picture amazing, particularly in light of a strong national economy that offers potential recruits a wide range of opportunities. He credited much of this success to recruiters "doing a bang-up job" in high schools, colleges and local communities. "There is a lot of talk about the all-volunteer force, but the recruiters will quickly remind you that it is an all-recruited force," Carr said.

Recruiters "have worked with young people (and) conveyed the message of the services and ... sparked the interest and imagination of young people," he said. "That is hard to do, and they did it well."

It's important for recruiters to have continued access to colleges, especially because more young people go to college now than a decade ago. "We have to fish where the fish are, and they are in colleges increasingly," he said.

High public confidence in the military as an institution doesn't hurt recruiting, either, Carr said. The latest Harris Poll shows the military continues to be the most admired institution in America, with 47 percent of respondents saying they have a "great deal" of confidence in the military.

This response shows widespread public recognition of the professionalism, ethics and performance of the military when it's called to carry out a mission, Carr said. "They recognize that, and they know what the military delivers," he said. "And I think they are proud of the military and their leaders."

High retention rates service-wide show that people who decide to join the military appear to agree with this assessment, Carr said. "I think the message there is that those who know us best are making a decision to stay," Carr said. "It's a tribute to those who are in the service, their families, to the family support groups, and to their unit leadership that they feel the way they do about this noble institution."

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