The Defense Department opened its new recruiting year with good news: announcing yesterday that the Army met its goal for October. But officials also said that the Army lowered the October recruiting goal by about a third from last year's.
Army officials said that they recruited 4,925 soldiers into active duty in October, the first month of the new fiscal year, exceeding the monthly goal of 4,700. Last October, the Army slightly exceeded its goal of 6,935.
S. Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command, said that the discrepancy does not mean the Army is lowering its goals simply to make them. "We don't set the numbers every year by month," he said. "This just means every month this year is different than last year, and there will be some higher months."
The Army, which still hopes to recruit 80,000 soldiers during the fiscal year, plans to sign up 10,450 people in July, 10,050 in August and 9,800 in September -- months that are traditionally strong for recruitment. That means the Army is leaving 30,300 recruits -- or 38 percent of its annual goal -- for the final three months of the fiscal year.
The Army did not recruit more than 9,500 in any month last year and fell far short of its monthly goals several months in a row.
In fiscal 2005, the Army fell more than 8 percent short in its annual recruiting, missing a goal of 80,000 recruits by 6,600. This fiscal year, the Army has set lower monthly goals for six months compared with last year.
Still, meeting the monthly goal for October was a positive start for the new fiscal year, Army officials said. Defense Department numbers also showed that the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force also exceeded their goals. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, both of which had significant trouble recruiting last year, exceeded their goals for October, as well.
Army officials have long expected that this fiscal year will be a difficult recruiting environment, in part because of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in part because parents are becoming less willing to encourage their children to enlist.
"We are clearly seeing the benefit of increased enlistment incentives combined with the outstanding efforts of our recruiters," said Col. Joseph Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. "More importantly, American youth are answering the call to duty."