By William H. McMichael – Staff writer: Navy Times
The bad news on Wall Street is good news for military recruiting and retention, the Pentagon’s top personnel official said Oct. 10.
“We do benefit when things look less positive in civil society,” said David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a Pentagon briefing. “That is a situation where more are willing to give us a chance. I think that’s the big difference — people willing to listen to us.”
A U.S. soldier from 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defence Artillery secures the road during a joint military training with Bulgarian army soldiers at Novo Selo military base near the town of Sliven, some 350 km (217 miles) east of Sofia October 9, 2008.REUTERS/Oleg Popov (BULGARIA)
But while the downturn in the economy is making it easier for the services to recruit and retain people, Chu said he doesn’t expect spending on enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses to drop in the near term, even though more may see the military as a shelter against a sagging civilian job market.
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U.S. Army Meets Recruiting Goals
By Sig Christenson
Express News, San Antonio
Carrying the weight of the war in Iraq, the Army said Friday it had nonetheless made its recruiting goal for the past year and had kept more than enough veteran soldiers in uniform.
The Army exceeded its goal of 80,000 recruits by more than 500 people. The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps just edged past their marks but put a bow on a badly needed wartime success story. It was the ninth year in a row the Air Force met its goal.
“This is the strongest recruiting year we’ve had overall …. since fiscal year 2004,” David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a Pentagon release.
As it has been for many years, even before Sept. 11, 2001, the fall recruiting and retention report was a mixed bag. A Pentagon report stressed that more than 92 percent of all new recruits held a high school diploma, compared with 75 percent nationwide among the same age group. But services that were forced to battle for recruits during the 1990s boom years have found new troubles over seven years of war.
Persuading parents to let their children join the Army continued to be a huge hurdle for 9,400 active-duty and reserve recruiters. The Army also said that eight in every 10 new active-duty soldiers held a high school diploma — a reflection of reluctant “influencers,” people whose advice recruiters deem critical. The number was below the Pentagon goal of 90 percent.
The latest numbers reflect recruiting for the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30. This year the Army easily beat its mark for active-duty recruits, and the Air Force, Navy and Marines also met their recruiting goals, as did the nation’s six reserve components.
Retaining veteran troops proved difficult. While the Army and Navy topped their goals, the Air Force and Marines fell short, as did the reserves. The Pentagon said losses in the reserve components were “within acceptable limits” but provided no statistics.
The Army has missed its recruiting mark three times in the past decade, the last shortfall coming in 2005. It’s offered a variety of cash incentives to entice recruits and keep veterans in uniform, increased its maximum recruiting age to 41 and allowed more felons to join.
The number of felons granted “moral waivers” jumped by more than 500 in 2007. The Recruiting Command’s chief, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, said the Army granted only 372 felony waivers this year.
Also, 240 people age 40 and over went to boot camp. The same number of 40-plus recruits signed up in 2007.
The Pentagon report showed that Texas retained the title of the nation’s No. 1 state in the nation for active-duty Army recruits, with 10,951 soldiers. It’s been No. 1 at least three years.
San Antonio, the nation’s No. 1 Army recruiting battalion for three years running, signed up 3,970 active-duty soldiers and reservists. It fell short, however, of being best overall in America this year — though Army officials weren’t sure which battalion surpassed the Alamo City.
“We can’t be No. 1 forever, but we’re pretty close,” said Bart Keyes, spokesman for the San Antonio battalion.