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Military Behind in Recruits

June 11, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — All four of the main military services are having trouble attracting recruits to their reserve forces, though only the Army is falling short in attracting people for its active-duty ranks, the Pentagon said Friday.

The shortfall is significant because more than ever, the part-timers of the National Guard and Reserve are crucial to the overall military. They provide nearly half of the U.S. force in Iraq and most of the U.S. peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo.

The Army National Guard is 24% behind its recruiting target through May; the Army Reserve and the Air National Guard are each 20% behind; and the Navy Reserve is 12% behind, according to Pentagon figures released Friday.

Only the Air Force Reserve is significantly ahead of its goal, at 117% of the total it expected through May. The Marine Corps Reserve, which fell short in May, has met its year-to-date goal.

The slippage in Air National Guard and Navy Reserve recruiting has been largely overshadowed by the more serious struggles of the Army's active and reserve forces. In May, the active Army sent 5,039 recruits to boot camp, 25% fewer than its goal. For the first eight months of the budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the active Army had 83% of the recruits it expected. Army recruiting has been hurt by mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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