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Army Meets Recruiting Goals
Associated Press  |  April 11, 2006
WASHINGTON - The Army met its recruiting goal for March, but lags behind last year's pace as it nears some of the most challenging recruitment months of the year.

March marked the 10th month in a row that the active-duty Army has met its recruitment goals, aided by an aggressive campaign that includes financial bonuses and a significant increase in the number of recruiters. It has recruited a total 31,369 Soldiers since last October 1, compared to more than 32,100 as of this time last year. The goal for each year: 80,000.

Last Sept. 30, the Army closed out one of its most difficult recruiting periods in decades, falling more than 6,600 recruits short of its goal. It was the first shortfall since 1999, and the largest in 26 years.

In the coming summer months, the Army will try to recruit between 8,600 and 10,400 Soldiers a month - well above the numbers achieved last year. Recruitment is vital to the Army, which needs to fill the ranks of a service stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Navy, Air Force and Marines also met their recruitment goals in March. Those services have had fewer problems than the Army.

According to numbers released by the Pentagon on Monday, the Army recruited 5,396 in March, and had a goal of 5,200. The Army Reserve fell a bit short of its March goal of 2,534, bringing in 2,261 recruits.

As recruiting goals have increased - from 72,000 for 2004 to this year's 80,000 - the Army has taken a variety of steps to beef up its program, including large increases in enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses. The number of recruiters grew from more than 6,000 to more than 8,200 for the active Army and reserves, and their sales pitch has become more targeted and refined.

The Army has also increased the percentage of recruits it will accept that fall below certain aptitude levels. Now, 4 percent of the annual recruits can score at the lowest acceptable level, compared with 2 percent. The Defense Department has set 4 percent as the maximum amount, but the individual military services can set lower limits.

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