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General 'Cautiously Optimistic' on Army Recruiting Goals

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2005 – The Army's top personnel officer said he's "cautiously optimistic" on meeting this year's active-duty recruiting goal, despite reports some parents of potential recruits are uneasy about military service for their children because of the Iraq war.

The Army hasn't achieved its recruiting goals in recent months, Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck acknowledged to reporters April 7 at a Pentagon roundtable. However, the general asserted, this year's mission of signing up 80,000 active-duty recruits, is doable. "We're going to make that (number)," he said.

And, Hagenbeck emphasized, the Army will not "sacrifice quality for quantity" in meeting its recruiting mission.

Currently, about 640,000 active, Guard and Reserve soldiers have been mobilized to support operations in the global war on terrorism, Hagenbeck noted, with about 310,000 of those troops deployed to overseas locales in 120 countries.

The general surmised today's recruiting mission is becoming difficult because of the Army's high standards, noting more than 70 percent of potential recruits 17 to 21 years old aren't eligible for enlistment because of low entrance-test scores, educational deficits or criminal records.

"We have some very rigorous standards ... from educational to mental (and) physical standards" potential recruits are required to meet, Hagenbeck pointed out.

Another issue, he noted, centers on the attitudes of parents, teachers and coaches. Some of these societal "influencers," he noted, recommend that young people not join the Army because of ongoing hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet the numbers of young people inquiring about Army service remain high, Hagenbeck reported. And recruiters report that most potential enlistees don't appear worried about being deployed to Iraq or other combat zones, he added.

"That's not one of their concerns at this juncture," Hagenbeck said.

In addition to adding more recruiters, the Army has recently said it will increase its efforts to convince parents that Army service is a good deal for young people.

The Army's retention picture looks bright, Hagenbeck reported, with re-enlistments at 102 percent of the service's target. He said the Army is predicted to "meet or exceed" its active-duty re-enlistment goals.

In fact, soldiers who'd enlisted after the 9/11 attacks on the United States "continue to stay with us at (higher) rates than they have in the past," he pointed out.

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