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Army Optimistic Current Recruiting Trend Will Continue

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2006 – The largest of the services, the Army is also the most heavily deployed, and with its one-year "boots-on-the-ground" deployment policy, it keeps its members away from home for the longest duration.

Yet so far this year, more than 160,000 people have enlisted or re-enlisted in the Army - the equivalent to every man, woman and child in Chattanooga, Tenn., noted Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, Army personnel spokesman.

April proved to be another strong month, with almost 5,700 soldiers joining the active Army and almost 5,900 joining the Army National Guard, he noted. The Army Reserve trailed behind, recruiting almost 2,200 soldiers in April, short of its goal of just over 2,600.

Maj. Gen. Sean Byrne, the Army's director of Military Personnel Management, expressed optimism about the months ahead. "I feel very comfortable going into the summer that we are going to meet our recruiting mission," he said. "We are better positioned than last year," he said, noting that the Army is recruiting more members than for the same period in fiscal 2005.

And most of those who join the Army decide to stay, as evidenced by re-enlistment numbers that hit more than 80,000 during the first seven months of fiscal year 2006, Hilferty said. "Two out of three soldiers eligible to re-enlist continue to re-enlist," he said.

The vast majority of re-enlistments were in the active Army, with almost 50,000 active-duty soldiers re-upping since Oct. 1. That's more than 8,000 higher than what the Army was working toward, and a big step toward the Army's year-end goal of just over 64,000, Hilferty noted.

The Army National Guard is at 110 percent of its year-to-date re-enlistment goal, a promising sign that it will meet or even exceed a year-end goal that's more than 2,300 higher than last year's, he said.

While noting that the Army Reserve is 5 percent short of its year-to-date re-enlistment goal, Hilferty said there's strong optimism it can play catch-up by the year's end. This year's year-end goal is almost 1,500 higher than last year's, he noted.

Hilferty cited several new programs and incentives he expects to support those efforts that include:

  • A new pilot program that gives active-duty recruits who fill critical specialties for at least five years matching Thrift Savings Plan funds during their initial enlistment. Over a 20-year career, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hilferty said.
  • Tax exemptions for money contributed to the Thrift Savings Plan while serving in a combat zone, even if it's withdrawn early.
  • A new $1,000 bonus incentive for high school seniors who enlist or join the Delayed Entry Program. This bonus, effective yesterday, applies to recruits who graduate, receive their diploma, score above average on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and leave for basic training before October.
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