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July 24, 2005

Army admits goals will be missed; Military wants more sacrifice

The Army has admitted that it will not meet its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999.  The service's top personnel officer, Lt. General Franklin L. Hagenbeck, attributed the recruiting failures to "an improving economy, competition from private industry and an increasing number of parents who are less supportive of military service," according to the New York Times

The article notes that the Army had deployed an additional 1,200 recruiters to America's streets for the summer months in hopes of boosting enlistment, but that it still expects to fall short when the recruiting year ends on September 30th.  The Army has recruited 47.121 people through the end of June, the Times reports, and hopes to hit 80,000 new enlistees by October.  And that shortfall is despite a new set of recruitment incentives, with new recruits promised rewards totalling "up to" $104,000. 

But it's not all about the Benjamins. 

Gen. Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who served as a recruiter in Buffalo for three years, said the military must appeal to American youth in other ways.

"This is not about money and benefits; this is about message," General Pace said at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. "If we let our young folks and middle-young folks know how much we appreciate their service to their country - there are thousands and thousands of young men and women out there who want to serve this country."

On that note, another article in the Times notes that many men and women enlisted in the military are feeling abandoned by an American public that they feel is asked to sacrifice little for the country's on-going wars.   

"For most Americans," said an officer with a year's experience in Iraq, "their role in the war on terror is limited to the slight inconvenience of arriving at the airport a few hours early."

Well, why isn't the public being asked to plant victory guardians or buy war bonds? 

David C. Hendrickson, a scholar on foreign policy and the presidency at Colorado College, said, "Bush understands that the support of the public for war - especially the war in Iraq - is conditioned on demanding little of the public." ...

"The public wants very much to support the troops" in Iraq, [Hendrickson] said. "But it doesn't really believe in the mission. Most consider it a war of choice, and a majority - although a thin one - thinks it was the wrong choice."

Demanding little of the public certainly precludes a draft.  But with the recruitment numbers so low, what's the military to do?  The article mentions a new non-military sort of recruitment, a way for professionals to lend temporary assistance to the military without the messy obligations of a multi-year deployment: the possible creation of "a Civilian Reserve, a sort of Peace Corps for professionals."

"In an interview, Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, said that discussions had begun on a program to seek commitments from bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, electricians, plumbers and solid-waste disposal experts to deploy to conflict zones for months at a time on reconstruction assignments, to relieve pressure on the military."

Posted by Kat Aaron on July 24, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

You can't serve your country honorably when your country doesn't honor your service.

Posted by: | Jul 24, 2005 7:37:02 PM

Unknown poster:
I agree that this country does not honor military service. Just as this site dehumanizes recruiters (military personnel) as sub-standard people, and considers the military as a lack-luster and debasing institution. Even though the military has been around longer than the Nation itself, but who's keeping score.

Posted by: Army Soldier 05 | Aug 15, 2005 7:12:48 PM

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