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Release No: 602-96
October 24, 1996


More than 180,000 new enlistees joined the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and Marines in FY 1996 the Department of Defense announced today. In making the announcement, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy Fred Pang said, To support today's high-tech, volunteer force, we must recruit the best, most capable young men and women possible. We are proud to say our track record shows success! For the past five years, the Armed Forces have successfully recruited the right quantity and quality of new recruits to meet personnel requirements, with strong social diversity. He singled out Service recruiters for special praise. The Services established tough recruiting goals and our recruiters came through, Pang said.

In FY 1996, the Services recruited a total of 180,192 first- time enlistees while exceeding recruit quality benchmarks. In addition, 5,795 individuals with previous service were recruited for a total of 185,987. Quality benchmarks require that 90 percent of recruits graduate from high school and that 60 percent have above average scores on the enlistment test. FY 1996 recruits exceeded both marks. Department-wide, 96 percent of FY 1996 recruits without prior military service were high school diploma graduates, and 69 percent scored above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT).

New recruit demographics reflect diverse representation. The proportion of Black recruits remained at 19 percent Department-wide, as compared to last year. In addition, representation of Hispanic recruits remained at nine percent. The percentage of women recruits in FY 1996 dropped one percentage point, from 18 to 17 percent. The shift is attributable to a reduced proportion of women entering the Navy, which has stopped gender-neutral recruiting, in recognition of a constraint in berthing capacity aboard ships.

Pang further indicated that he was particularly pleased with the continued success of recruiting. Recruiting has been challenging over the past several years. With the Defense drawdown, there was a corresponding drop in recruiting resources -- money for advertising, educational benefits, and enlistment bonuses; the number of recruiters also declined. As a result,

youth interest in the military dropped as the perception grew that we were no longer hiring. Young people also worried that military service involved personal risk given recent deployments to Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti. Fortunately, Congress provided the necessary resources for increased advertising, and we were able to counter those negative perceptions and improve youth awareness about the opportunities and benefits of military service.

Pang concluded, The Department will continue to emphasize recruiting top quality men and women into the force, keeping them ready by making sure DoD allocates the resources needed to provide rigorous, realistic training, and rewarding them - - by making sure that the benefits of service are commensurate with the enormous sacrifices that our military personnel must make.

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