Recruitment Shortfall Reversal

Despite harsh images coming out of Iraq (and made to look even harsher by a traditional media elite determined to make Iraq another Vietnam), which had recruitment well behind schedule for much of the first half of this year, June saw a reversal in recruitment trends:

The U.S. Army, hard pressed to attract new soldiers amid the Iraq war, exceeded its monthly recruiting goal in June, ending four straight months of shortfalls, the top U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.

But the active-duty Army, three-quarters through fiscal 2005, remained 14 percent — about 7,800 recruits — behind its year-to-date target and was in danger of missing its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, officials said. Its goal for fiscal 2005, ending on Sept. 30, is 80,000 recruits.

“I will tell you that for the month of June, the United States Army active recruiting is over 100 percent of its goal, which is a turnaround from where they’ve been the last several months,” Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience of Pentagon employees.

“So there’s a bit of good news in here. We’ll see how it works out the rest of the year,” Myers added.

Well, it seems to me that if there weren’t so many bans on military recruitment on campuses, perhaps the shortfall wouldn’t be so great. The bans make no sense if you support the troops, even if you opposed the war itself.

Nonetheless, now that school is out, perhaps young men and women looking to serve their country will no longer be blinded by their teachers to the military option. In fact, that may be the greatest factor in explaining the uptick.

It’s worth considering, too, that perhaps, with a war going on, our youngsters are thinking a little more thoroughly about what military service entails, instead of viewing it as simply an obligation-free way to pay for college or get out of the hood. Indeed, this deeper soul-searching makes each new warrior even more valuable, even in later civilian life, because he or she will have decided, more unequivocally than ever, that a life worth having (thanks to help from the government) is a life worth fighting, even dying, for.

(Hat-tip: Alexander K. McClure of

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

5 thoughts on “Recruitment Shortfall Reversal”

  1. To emphasize the open-market place of ideas that underlies freshman comp, the final exercise for my freshman comp students is to describe an opinion that experience or knowledge led them to change. This spring, one student discussed Iraq; he had been against going in while he was in high school; many of his buddies were enlisting and he worried about them & knew he would miss them. During the couple of years that had passed, he’d found they returned feeling they had done a good and necessary job. His point of view seems verified by the fact re-enlistments have held relatively high.

  2. You should note, first, that the target level for May was lowered in April in order to make this number attainable.

    You should note, second, that lowering the number, combined with missed targets in previous months makes it very unlikely annual quotas will be met.

    Finally, there are plenty of young conservatives who say they support the war who are apparently not signing up. What can be done to encourage their patriotism, do you think?

  3. I also find it interesting that retention rates are very high while recruiting numbers are low. While the current enlistees must understand they will be going to war, we must be seeing some pre-2003 soldiers choosing to re-enlist knowing they will be sent back to war.

    Not sure what this means, but I think that it’s another element of elite American society’s increasing disconnect from the military, and of a resulting lack of communication. That disconnect has worried me greatly for some time now.

  4. They’re revising the NG serving rules because so many want to re-up.

    So, what do they know that we don’t?

    And while the targets may have been lowered, June is also a big graduation month.

  5. Sandy–

    And you think they don’t know that when they set their targets? In fact, the summer is their best recruiting period, with graduating seniors sometimes at loose ends, or at least in a period of uncertainty. A two year hitch in a structured environment with a pretty good guarantee of coming out with some new skills can look pretty appealing, especially combined with a substantial signing bonus.

    I think the problem really is that being shot at routinely has not been part of the deal up ’til now.

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