Army Orders Day Off From Recruiting

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Army has ordered a one-day suspension this month of its recruiting efforts, already made difficult by the Iraq war, to confront incidents of misconduct by its recruiters.

The incidents included a Texas recruiter threatening a man with arrest if he did not show up at a recruiting station for an interview and Colorado recruiters telling a high school student how to get a phony diploma from a nonexistent school, Army officials said.

On May 20, all 7,545 recruiters at 1,700 recruiting stations nationwide will be counseled by Army officials about what is permitted in the effort to coax people to enlist, officials said.

Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said the Army is investigating 480 allegations of improper conduct by Army recruiters in fiscal 2005, which began Oct. 1. The Army looked into 473 such allegations in all of 2000, 643 in 2001, 745 in 2002, 955 in 2003 and 957 in 2004, Smith said.

"This is not a crisis situation. . . . This is a prudent leadership move," said Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

The Army is struggling to meet recruiting goals, with potential recruits and their families wary about volunteering to serve during wartime.

"Yes, recruiting is very difficult right now. Recruiters, obviously all of us, are under great pressure to provide the Army with the soldiers it needs. But there's a way to do it, and that's with ethics and within the boundaries that we have to work," Smith said.

Army officials said a staff sergeant who recruited in Houston faced "corrective action" after telling a 20-year-old man to get to a local recruiting station by a certain time or face a warrant for his arrest.

Aiming to sign 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005, the Army has missed its goals in three straight months and is 16 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target.

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