Military Recruiting Numbers Show Promise Despite Army Dip
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 10, 2007 The Army fell short of its active-duty recruiting goal for June, but officials noted today that the Army is still ahead of its year-to-date goal and is expected to make its year-end goal.
June marked the second month in a row that the Army missed its active-duty recruiting goal, according to statistics released today by the Defense Department. The active Army, with 7,031 accessions, came up almost 1,400 recruits below its 8,400-person goal. However, officials noted that it remains 741 recruits ahead of its year-to-date goal.
The other three services met or exceeded their active-duty recruiting goals for June. The Navy recruited 3,999 sailors, 102 percent of its goal. The Marine Corps signed on 4,113 Marines, 110 percent of its goal, and the Air Force met its goal by recruiting 2,233 airmen.
Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their June goals.
The Army Reserve and Army National Guard both came out on the plus side for June. The Army Reserve recruited 5,255 members, almost 400 troops more than its goal, and the Guard met its goal, with 5,342 recruits.
The Navy Reserve recruited 1,013 members, exceeding its goal by 8 percent. The Marine Corps Reserve signed on 1,078 members, 109 percent of its goal. The Air Force Reserve met its 597-airman goal.
Only the Air National Guard, with 779 recruits, missed its goal, by 25 percent.
Maj. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, expressed optimism that July, August and September will tip the scales toward the plus side for active-duty recruitment. Traditionally, these are the Army’s biggest recruiting months due to the new crop of high school graduates.
But Edgecomb emphasized that the Army isn’t looking at the situation through rose-colored glasses. “Overall, we are optimistic, but concerned,” Edgecomb said.
She noted that the all-volunteer force is facing one of its biggest challenges in light of a protracted war that’s becoming increasingly unpopular among the American public.
"One of the greatest challenges to the all-volunteer force is being able to recruit during a period of protracted conflict,” agreed Bryan Whitman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
“Recruiting is a tough environment, but the all-volunteer force has served the nation well for over 30 years, providing a military that is experienced, well-trained, disciplined and representative of America,” he told Pentagon reporters today. “Since 9-11, we've had more than 900,000 Americans join the Army, and more than 700,000 soldiers have re-enlisted in the Army.”
Maintaining that trend has sent the Army into overdrive to ensure a steady supply of high-quality new recruits.
It’s added $30 million to its advertising budget to get its “Army Strong” slogan out to young people as well as their parents, teachers, coaches and other adults who influence their decisions about military service. “We’ve geared our ads to prospective soldiers as well as their parents,” Edgecomb said.
It’s promoting its $2,000 referral bonus program more vigorously. The program offers the bonus to soldiers, Army retirees and even Army civilian employees who refer a prospective recruit who enlists and successfully completes basic and advanced individual training. “Who can talk about the Army better than those working for the Army?” said Edgecomb.
In addition, the Army is hiring more contract recruiters to increase its outreach efforts. “We have 300,000 leads that need to be followed up on, and this will be a big help,” Edgecomb said.
Edgewood praised the Army’s recruiting force that’s kept its eyes on the ball and continues recruiting top-quality men and women into the Army ranks.
“The story that too often gets overlooked is the fact that in spite of the challenges, we’ve got about 70,000 soldiers who have made the commitment to serve in the Regular Army and the Army Reserve so far this year,” she said. “So we are still very successful in doing that.”
In addition, she noted that retention remains high, 101 percent of the goal for the active Army, 119 percent for the Army Reserve and 107 percent for the Army National Guard.
“It’s a testament to the quality of our young people that so many have already stepped forward to defend our nation and that so many servicemen and –women have chosen to continue to serve,” Edgecomb said.