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WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Army Exceeds Recruiting Goal for August, Still Short of Annual Goal

The Army exceeded its recruiting goal for active-duty soldiers in August, bringing in nearly 9,500 new recruits in its most successful month since July 2001, according to Army data released yesterday.

The Army is still short of making its annual goal of 80,000 troops by the end of this month, as it ended August with 64,663 recruits, about 10 percent off the projected mark. Army recruiters would have to bring in 15,337 people to make the goal, a target that Army officials have said they likely will miss. Should the Army repeat its success this month, it would still fall about 6,000 short, or more than 7 percent below the goal for the year.

Despite the potential shortfall, Army officials have said there is no looming personnel crisis and have pointed to successful retention efforts as offsetting the recruiting concerns. The Army has reenlisted 108 percent of its goal through August, keeping 63,507 soldiers, or 4,420 more than it had projected through August. Should the Army continue its pace, it will reenlist about 5,150 more than it expected for the fiscal year, making up a large percentage of the recruiting gap.

In a recent interview with defense reporters, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said that the Army's retention rate is a significant help in supporting the force but that efforts to expand the Army by 30,000 troops could slow if recruiting numbers fall in the coming fiscal year, as predicted.

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve fell farther behind annual goals for recruiting with another month of sub-par numbers. The Army National Guard recruited 82 percent of its month's goal in August, and the Reserve got 91 percent of its goal. Both reserve components of the Army are on pace to miss annual targets by about 20 percent.

Bush Threatens to Veto Changes To Mercury Emissions Rule

The White House defended its anti-pollution policies and threatened to veto a Senate proposal to negate new Environmental Protection Agency rules on limiting mercury emissions from power plants.

Senate Democrats, joined by several Republicans, said EPA rules favor the utility industry while slowing action on a serious public health hazard. The bill's sponsors, Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), turned to a little-used 1996 law that allows Congress to challenge agency rules with a guaranteed floor vote. The law has been successfully invoked only once, when Congress in 2001 repealed Clinton administration workplace ergonomics regulations.

By repealing the EPA rules finalized in March, the Senate would compel the agency to rewrite the rules. The revisions would be in line with Clean Air Act standards requiring the use of the best available technology to reduce mercury emissions.

Leahy said the Clean Air Act would start reductions in 2008. It would achieve up to 90 percent reductions far sooner than the EPA rules that, Leahy said, do not begin to cut emissions until 2013 and will not reach the goal of 70 percent reductions until 2030.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Josh White and the Associated Press

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