The Army has admitted that it will not meet its recruiting goal for the first time since 1999. The service’s top personnel officer, Lt. General Franklin L. Hagenbeck, attributed the recruiting failures to "an improving economy, competition from private industry and an increasing number of parents who are less supportive of military service," according to the New York Times.
The article notes that the Army had deployed an additional 1,200 recruiters to America’s streets for the summer months in hopes of boosting enlistment, but that it still expects to fall short when the recruiting year ends on September 30th. The Army has recruited 47.121 people through the end of June, the Times reports, and hopes to hit 80,000 new enlistees by October. And that shortfall is despite a new set of recruitment incentives, with new recruits promised rewards totalling "up to" $104,000.
But it’s not all about the Benjamins.
Gen. Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
who served as a recruiter in Buffalo for three years, said the military
must appeal to American youth in other ways.
"This is not about
money and benefits; this is about message," General Pace said at a
Pentagon briefing on Wednesday. "If we let our young folks and
middle-young folks know how much we appreciate their service to their
country – there are thousands and thousands of young men and women out
there who want to serve this country."
On that note, another article in the Times notes that many men and women enlisted in the military are feeling abandoned by an American public that they feel is asked to sacrifice little for the country’s on-going wars.
"For most Americans," said an officer with a year’s experience in Iraq,
"their role in the war on terror is limited to the slight inconvenience
of arriving at the airport a few hours early."
Well, why isn’t the public being asked to plant victory guardians or buy war bonds?
David C. Hendrickson, a scholar on foreign policy and the presidency at
Colorado College, said, "Bush understands that the support of the
public for war – especially the war in Iraq – is conditioned on
demanding little of the public." …
"The public wants very much to support the troops" in Iraq, [Hendrickson] said.
"But it doesn’t really believe in the mission. Most consider it a war
of choice, and a majority – although a thin one – thinks it was the
Demanding little of the public certainly precludes a draft. But with the recruitment numbers so low, what’s the military to do? The article mentions a new non-military sort of recruitment, a way for professionals to lend temporary assistance to the military without the messy obligations of a multi-year deployment: the possible creation of "a Civilian Reserve, a sort of Peace Corps for professionals."
an interview, Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for
policy, said that discussions had begun on a program to seek
commitments from bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, electricians,
plumbers and solid-waste disposal experts to deploy to conflict zones
for months at a time on reconstruction assignments, to relieve pressure
on the military."