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Army Misses Recruiting Goal, Raises Enlistment Bonuses

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2005 – The Army "is a particularly stressed force" and officials are studying ways to increase recruiting, Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said here today.

The Army missed its February recruiting goals for the active duty, Guard and Reserve forces. It was the first time the service missed recruiting goals in five years. In February, the active Army's goal was 7,050 new recruits, and the service fell short by 1,900. All other services made recruiting goals, DoD officials said.

These numbers tend to be cyclical, Di Rita said, and February is not a normal month for young men and women to report for service. But the Army still missed the goal, he said. "The Army has, indeed, increased the incentives," Di Rita said. "They are hiking enlistment bonuses from $8,000 to $10,000." In some hard-to-fill military occupational specialties, the service has raised enlistment bonuses to $15,000.

In addition, the Army has increased the number of recruiters on the street by 20 percent. The service has added 950 recruiters to the total recruiting force, Di Rita said.

Working against the military is a solid economy. Traditionally, officials said, military recruiting does better in bad economic times.

Working both for and against the military is the fact that the nation is at war. Young men and women who enlist probably will go to a war zone, officials said. Many are enlisting to do their duty, said officials. Other potential recruits are shying away from military duty because of that likelihood. "It's pretty much a wash," said a Pentagon official. "As many are attracted to service as are repelled."

Many Americans have a positive image of the U.S. military, and the services are working to get parents - or other "influencers" - to encourage eligible young men and women to enlist. Di Rita said the military is aiming advertising to these influencers. Di Rita said the Army believes it will make up the difference before the end of the fiscal year.

Retention is another story and a bright spot in the picture. In units that have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, the re-enlistment rate actually is higher than in units that have not deployed. This is true throughout the total Army - Guard and Reserve retention is higher in units that have deployed than in those that have not, Di Rita said.

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