April 10, 2006

A Few More Good Men (and Women)

Hatched by Sachi

Back in September 2005, the antique media emitted a collective primal scream about the Army facing the "Worst Recruiting Slump in Years," as the Associated Press put it (rather triumphally).

So why is it that this good news gets hardly any attention at all? Could it be just because -- it is good news?

USA Today reports that in the first six months of this fiscal year (October 1st, 2005 through March 31st, 2006), the Army had an incredibly good soldier-retention rate (15% above the re-enlistment goal) plus new recruit numbers that actually slightly exceed the recruitment goal, even with the new, higher recruitment targets:

The Army was 15% ahead of its re-enlistment goal of 34,668 for the first six months of fiscal year 2006, which ended March 31. More than 39,900 soldiers had re-enlisted, according to figures scheduled to be released today by the Army.

Strong retention has helped the Army offset recruiting that has failed to meet its targets as the war in Iraq has made it harder to attract new soldiers. The Army fell 8% short of its goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, although it is exceeding its goal this year. Army recruiting figures for the first half of the year are to be released today.

Note an interesting point: the Army missed its new recruitment goal last fiscal year by 6,400 soldiers. But in fact, since they retained an extra 5,000+ soldiers over the reenlistment target, the actual shortfall was only about 1,000 soldiers. This year, they're meeting their target of 80,000 new recruits -- and if reenlistment rates keep up this pace, the Army will likely have as many as 10,000 more experienced soldiers than they planned.

That would more than make up the slight shortfall of 2005... which means they'll probably have to stop accepting new recruits sometime in the next few months: no vacancy!

In fact, Army retention numbers have been exceeding the goal for the last five years. Bear in mind, these are the guys who actually have been to the war zone and fought there (the Marines have always exceeded their enlistment targets; the Army was the only short service among active duty branches). These reenlisted soldiers know what to expect... and evidently, they want to stay and fight.

That says a lot more about our troops' morale than any number of misleading Zogby surveys.

Soldiers like the Army, "and the war is not causing people to leave," says Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. Through March, 2,325 U.S. troops had been killed in Iraq; 1,593 were Army soldiers.

When I had a chance to talk to a Navy captain back in February, he said the same thing: there are actually too many sailors reenlisting, and he had to turn away many.

Not only is the war "not causing people to leave," it's attracting recruits and reenlistments in droves. Our military now has a higher percentage of experienced and motivated warriors than any time since directly after World War II. And we're still getting plenty of young kids, as well; the Army is not turning into the "fat, gray line," as many feared we would. We still have many "citizen soldiers;" it's not an army of nothing but career professionals.

The future of our military is very bright, indeed.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 10, 2006, at the time of 9:34 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Dick E


"Could it be just because -- it is good news?"

Nah, couldn't be that. That would imply (gasp) bias!

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2006 10:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


Sorry, Sachi, for the mistaken ID. I was asleep at the wheel. Twice!

Please feel free to delete one of the above.


The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2006 10:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Like a coyote trapped in a leg chain, the NYT gnawed on this news until they found the only demographic NOT reenlisting-- "young officers"-- and that became their premise.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2006 4:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: 2Hotel9

I called this one last July. Recruits coming out of highschool usually defer entry until the fall, thus getting that last big summer fling before heading off to Basic. Got several friends who serve at different posts in Basic and AIT billets, they all had the same story, more Boots than bunks to rack them in. MSM will remain obtuse and silent on this until summer, when they will again regale us all with tale of the downfall of the US military through lack of sufficent recruits. Yet again.

The above hissed in response by: 2Hotel9 [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 18, 2006 4:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi

Isn't it amazing that when schools like UC Santa Cruz actively prevent recruiters from recruiting, we can still find plently of brave souls who want to serve our country?

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 19, 2006 12:12 AM

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