July 10, 2006 — -- What a difference a year makes. Despite predictions by some commentators that last year's recruiting shortfall would be repeated this year as the violence continues in Iraq, the Army is on track to meet its annual goal of 80,000 new recruits.
The Army isn't alone: All the active-duty military services are on pace to meet or exceed their annual recruiting goals.
Pentagon officials attribute the turnaround this year to the presence of more recruiters and more financial incentives. An additional reason for the Army's success so far has been the lowering of monthly goals for most of the recruiting year and the signficant increase in the monthly goals for the summer months, which have historically proven to be the most successful recruiting period.
This June marked the ninth month in a row that the Army has met or exceeded its monthly recruiting goal.
The recruiting goal for June 2005 was 6,159 new recruits. Though the monthly goals at the start of the recruiting year were lowered, this year's June recruiting goal was increased to 8,600. Pentagon figures released today show Army recruiters exceeded their first real recruiting challenge, as 8,765 new recruits were signed up.
If the trend continues through July, August and September, Army officials are confident they will have overcome last year's recruiting shortfall.
Pentagon officials say the recruiting success is not the result of any lowering of its quality standards. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today that 90 percent of all recruits have high school diplomas and nearly two-thirds have scored in the top half of military entrance exams.
The Army has received millions in new funding to pay for additional recruiters and added bonuses. According to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty about half the current total 51,612 new soldiers signed up this year have qualified for enlistment bonuses.
In some of the more hard-to-fill positions a new recruit could qualify for as much as $40,000 in enlistment bonuses, but Hilferty says the average goal for those recruits that qualify is $5,000.