On a day when new survey results show that 57 percent of adult Americans do not believe our efforts in Iraq are worth the cost, the Army has released detailed data showing that its recruiting continues to hemorrhage, falling short of its April goal by a heart-breaking 42 percent.
The U.S. Army missed its April recruiting goal by a whopping 42 percent and the Army Reserve fell short by 37 percent, officials said on Tuesday, showing the depth of the military’s wartime recruiting woes.
With the Iraq war straining the U.S. military, the active-duty Army has now missed its recruiting goals in three straight months, with April being by far the worst of the three, and officials are forecasting that it will fall short again in May.
The all-volunteer Army is providing the majority of the ground forces for an Iraq war in which nearly 1,600 U.S. troops have died.
The active-duty Army signed up 3,821 recruits last month, falling short of its goal of 6,600 for April, Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said. That left the Army 16 percent behind its year-to-date goal, officials said.
The Army is striving to attract 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30. The Army has not missed an annual goal for signing up new soldiers since 1999, and had not missed a monthly goal since May 2000.
The Army Reserve, a force of part-time soldiers who train regularly and can be called to active duty in times of need, signed up 849 recruits in April, short of the monthly goal of 1,355, Smith said. That left the Army Reserve 21 percent behind its year-to-date goal.
A senior Army official, who asked not to be named, said the Army Reserve will “probably not” achieve its annual goal of 22,175 recruits.
The Army National Guard said it did not yet have its April numbers, but has missed its recruiting goal in every month of the current fiscal year through March and was 23 percent behind its year-to-date goal at that time. It missed its fiscal 2004 annual goal.
Military recruiters have said potential recruits and their parents were expressing wariness about enlisting during the Iraq war. They said improving civilian job opportunities also were affecting recruiting.
Has the war gone that poorly? Has the situation turned that dire? Or is the public being sold a negative bill of goods by the media? The networks and most papers wail with bad news while paying only passing attention to any progress, except when the situation absolutely demands it (the only recent moment that comes to mind is the success of the January elections). Barring such demand, the old saying in sensationalist journalism is that a building that does not burn is not news.
As evidence that the situation on the ground is not as bad as the public is being led to believe, let’s check with the people on the ground.
Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army was ahead of its targets for reenlisting current soldiers. “At the same time, we have a challenge of bringing new members into our ranks, but we’re optimistic we’ll meet that goal by the end of the summer,” Curtin said.
People involved in a disaster don’t stick around in better-than-expected numbers.
‘Tis a shame that, on a day when history is being made by the swearing in of the first-ever Iraqi government resulting from popular elections and reflecting the diversity and will of the Iraqi people, America is being coaxed methodically towards a repeat of an earlier historical moment, an event when the American media betrayed the country’s military and truth with their poor, slanted selling of an alternate reality. Ah, Tet — a repeat is not in the best interest of our nation or, indeed, the future of western civilization, but that doesn’t stop some from pushing for it.