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04 April 2005

US Army, Marines miss recruiting goals

Friday 1 April 2005 04:15 PM ET

Amid War, U.S. Army,
Marines Miss
Recruiting Goals

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Army missed its March recruiting goal by 32 percent, and the Marine Corps also came up short, officials said on Friday, as the Iraq war undermined the all-volunteer U.S. military's ability to sign up new troops.

The Army and Marines provide the ground forces battling a violent insurgency in Iraq in a two-year-old war that has claimed more than 1,500 U.S. lives.

The active-duty Army, in danger of missing its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, netted 4,650 recruits in March, far below its goal of 6,800 for the month, Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said.

The Army also came up short in February after achieving every monthly recruiting target since May 2000, and officials have said an internal forecast indicated it will miss April's goal as well.

Through March, Smith said, the Army was 11 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target, with the intention of getting 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30.

"It's just a rough year. The war and the economy are continuing to have an impact on our ability to recruit," Smith said, noting the Army is adding recruiters and sweetening financial incentives. Better job opportunities in the civilian sector also have affected recruiting, he said.

The situation was worse in the part-time Army Reserve and Army National Guard, with the Pentagon relying heavily on reservists to maintain troop levels in Iraq.

The Army Reserve missed its March recruiting goal by 46 percent -- getting 861 recruits with a goal of 1,600 -- and was now nearly 18 percent behind its year-to-date goal.

The Army National Guard said it did not yet have its March numbers, but has missed its recruiting goal in every month of the current fiscal year through February and was 26 percent behind its year-to-date goal. The Army National Guard fell short of its overall goal in 2004.

The Army in March raised the maximum age for new recruits for the Army Reserve and National Guard by five years to 39 as part of a three-year experiment that added 22 million people to the pool of those eligible to serve.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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