By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 30, 2005
The Army has exceeded its monthly nationwide recruiting goals for June, stopping a four-month slide and giving recruiters hope as they try to make up a significant deficit in the remaining three months of the fiscal year.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the Army's June success at the end of a town hall meeting at the Pentagon yesterday, calling it a "bit of good news" in what has been a troublesome topic this year. The Army missed its recruiting goals for the active duty forces by increasing margins from February through May, falling thousands of recruits behind expectations.
According to preliminary numbers cited by a Pentagon official yesterday afternoon, the Army has brought in more than 6,150 recruits this month, passing the goal of 5,650 by about 9 percent. The official released the early numbers after Myers's speech but did not want to be identified because the numbers are subject to change. The Army Reserve, which also has been affected by sluggish recruiting numbers, passed its June goal of 3,610 by about 50 recruits.
The slight surplus in June, however, barely chipped away at what has become a major gap in recruiting numbers. The Army hopes to gain 80,000 recruits this fiscal year but is well behind its target thus far.
About 48,500 recruits have joined through the first nine months of the fiscal year -- 7,800 behind the year-to-date goal, or about 86 percent of the expected numbers. The Army must now add about 31,500 recruits in the next three months, an average of 10,500 each month, to meet the annual goal. January was the only month this year in which the Army brought in more than 8,000 recruits. At the current pace, the Army would miss its goal by more than 11,000.
"We're very pleased we made our June mission," said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army's recruiting command. "But it is a difficult recruiting year, and we do have a lot of ground to make up. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us."
Col. Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the rise in June is part of an expected summer surge, when the Army historically has seen higher numbers as students have recently graduated from high school and are mulling over their futures. Curtin said the June numbers reflect the hard work of more than 7,000 recruiters, and Myers said enlistment bonuses of as much as $20,000 are being used to entice recruits.
Myers, echoing President Bush's call to service in a speech Tuesday night, said "senior leaders need to talk out" to try to convince parents and relatives of potential recruits that the United States needs young men and women in the armed services.
Surveys have shown that parents are increasingly inclined to dissuade their children from enlisting.
Staff writer Bradley Graham contributed to this report.