Rumsfeld Provides Context for Army Recruiting Challenge
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today vigorously disputed the notion that the Army is in danger of being "broken" by its recent overseas commitments and recruitment challenges.
"This Army is not broken," Rumsfeld said. "This is the finest Army on the face of the earth; it's the finest Army in the history of the world." The secretary made the remarks to George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program "This Week."
The Army did not meet its recruitment quota for the four-month period ending in May, leaving the service short 8,321 recruits, Stephanopoulos noted.
Rumsfeld, however, said these numbers only can be understood in context. Recruiting and retention for the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are on target, he observed. The same is true for Army retention, and retention of Army veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is higher still, Rumsfeld said.
Moreover, he he told Tim Russert on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," only about 45 percent of the nation's Guard and Reserve forces have been deployed in support of Iraq and Afghanistan.
One reason the Army faces a recruitment challenge is because the size of the force is increasing by at least 30,000 troops, Rumsfeld said. "So you've got higher goals," he explained.
The secretary said negative talk about a "broken" Army with a recruiting "crisis" also exacerbates the problem. "There are people running around saying it's broken, and that recruiting's down. And 'Isn't it horrible? The sky's falling!' What do you think that does to recruiting? Is that helpful?" Rumsfeld asked. "No."
Despite these challenges, the secretary said, the Army "will, eventually, over time, get what we need. It's a matter of adjusting the incentives so that you can attract and retain the people you need."
The Defense Department, Rumsfeld added, has some 47 initiatives under way to "relieve stress on the force." These include moving tens of thousands of uniformed military personnel out of jobs civilians can do, re-balancing the active duty force with the Guard and Reserve, and re-balancing skill sets within the active duty force, he said.
The bottom line, said, is that the Army will meet its deployment commitments now and in the future.