Services Attain Strong Recruiting Numbers for Fiscal 2007
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2007 The Defense Department reported strong recruiting numbers for fiscal 2007 today, as all four active-duty components met their goals for the year. (Video)
David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, answers a question during an Oct. 10, 2007, Pentagon news conference on the latest recruiting and retention figures for the military services as the service recruiting chiefs -- (left to right) Air Force Brig. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, Navy Rear Adm. Joseph Kilkenny, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Tryon, and Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick -- stand by to answer further questions. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess, USN
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
When the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the Army and Navy had attained 101 percent of their recruiting goals with 80,407 and 37,361 recruits, respectively. The Marine Corps and Air Force were at 100 percent, with 35,603 and 27,801 recruits, respectively.
Four of the six reserve components met their recruiting goals. The Marine Corps Reserve finished the year at 110 percent of its goal, with 7,959 recruits. The Air Force Reserve followed with 104 percent, or 7,110 recruits. The Army and Navy reserves came in at 101 and 100 percent, respectively, with 35,734 and 10,627 recruits.
Among the reserve components, only the Army and Air National Guard reported not meeting recruiting goals, but that number is somewhat deceptive, defense officials said. In both services, they explained, retention was higher than expected, which reduced the number of recruits needed.
In fact, the Army National Guard had to curtail recruiting because its retention numbers were so high that it wouldn’t have had the funds to pay for the likely overage to its authorized end-strength if recruiting continued at the originally projected pace.
The Army Guard finished the year at 101 percent of its planned 350,000-soldier end-strength – nearly 3,000 troops above that target and almost 6,500 more soldiers than it started the year with. The Air Guard finished the fiscal year at 99.3 percent of its targeted 107,000-airman end-strength.
The quality of recruits remains high, said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Briefing Pentagon reporters today, Chu said the Defense Department standards are that 90 percent of its new recruits have a high school diploma and 60 percent score higher than average on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a series of tests given to prospective recruits. Also, no more than 4 percent of those who score in Mental Category IV – between the 10th and 30th percentile in the nation – are allowed to enlist.
“In other words, we aim for the military to draw an above-average slice of America into its enlisted ranks,” Chu said.
In the active components, all but the Army reported meeting those standards. Only 79 percent of the Army’s non-prior service recruits had a high school diploma, Chu said, but he noted that’s about the same percentage as American society at large.
Five of the six reserve components met the high school diploma goal. The Army Reserve came in at 86 percent. Four of the six made the testing goal of 60 percent or higher, while the Army National Guard and Reserve came in just under the mark at 57 percent. All reserve components met the goal of no more than 4 percent of recruits having Category IV test scores.
Retention numbers were not released, but Chu reported that all four active components met their retention goals and all six reserve components were within the Defense Department’s expectations.
The recruiting successes are needed for a force that has plans to grow in the next five years. The Army expects to grow to 547,000 and the Marine Corps to 202,000 by as early as 2010. The Navy and Air Force plan to reduce their forces.
Officials can’t say exactly how many recruits will be needed each year, because retention and attrition also affect end-strength, but the Army expects to add about 7,000 annually and the Marines 5,000.
Chu reported that a downward trend in support by community influencers toward military service has leveled off, and that officials hope to see it take a more positive turn.
“I think it's important for all citizens to support the choices of young people, and this is one of the ironies we've seen in this extended conflict -- that the young people are willing to step forward, but the more senior members of our society … are less willing to applaud that choice when they do so,” Chu said.
Chu did not report on the number of recruits who required waivers to be admitted into the military, but, when questioned, said that waiver submissions were at a historically high level, about equal to last year. But, Chu said, that includes medical and conduct waivers.
Chu said the military takes a “whole person” stance on waivers and will grant a conduct waiver for a recruit who may have committed a misdemeanor or sampled illegal drugs, but otherwise is qualified and has not continued the illegal behaviors.
“We certainly are not going to accept for enlistment anyone with a serious criminal record, but the services ask questions, as they should, of new entrants that try to ensure we know whom we're recruiting,” Chu said. “We want to know who that whole person is.”
Chu said the number of recruits admitted with a criminal record is a “small number” of the force.
Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commander of the Army’s Recruiting Command, said that 85 percent of those enlisting in the Army did not need a waiver. Of the 15 percent who needed waivers, 87 percent were for misdemeanors, or “small infractions,” he said, such as joy riding, breaking curfew or using a false ID.
“So we're not bringing in murderers, criminals, drug dealers, felons. Those people are not coming into the United States Army,” Bostick said. “This is a very high-quality Army. I served in combat side by side with them. Many of the recruiters are combat veterans. They're going to go back to the force and serve next to these soldiers. They want them to be the highest quality.”