The Army has come under considerable criticism for failing to meet its recruiting goals the past four months. Critics blame the war in Iraq for the shortfall, which has put the Army behind in its overall recruiting for the fiscal year. However, the Army has managed to meet its goal for June, according to the New York Times, which points out a different reason for lower recruitment:
For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but it still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service’s annual quota.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a public forum at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the Army exceeded its June quota, but he gave no details. Senior Army officials said in interviews earlier in the day that the Army exceeded the goal of 5,650 recruits by about 500 people. The Army Reserve also made its first monthly quota since last December, the officials said.
That still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year that ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters’ lives miserable.
The Army has been the only branch of the service to miss its overall goal, or more accurately find itself in danger of missing its annual goal. The other branches of the service appear to be meeting their goals, and all branches have met or exceeded their re-enlistment objectives. Re-enlistment appears especially popular among those who serve in Iraq.
Interestingly, Eric Schmitt brings up a diagnosis that has not yet been raised in regards to this issue. The last time the Army faced a recruitment goal failure was six years ago, when the hot economy made it difficult to attract new recruits. So why doesn’t that get much mention now? After all, our economy has grown tremendously over the past three years, and now sports an impressive 3.8% growth rate for the first quarter of 2005. In fact, the Federal Reserve might announce a ninth straight interest-rate hike today to temper the growth.
It doesn’t appear that the Army’s missed goal is the crisis of confidence that the media has ginned up. Military recruitment gets affected by a number of factors, and deployment is an important but not exclusive issue for potential volunteers. Market competition also plays a role, as the Times reminds us, and right now the market is as tough as it has been since that last recruitment shortfall. Before the Chicken Littles of the media and the Left start screeching about falling skies, perhaps they should take a look at the big picture.