It seems obvious that the military might find it difficult to bring in new recruits when we're at war -- but historically the opposite has been true. Now USA Today reports the Army has fallen far short of its recruiting goal for the third month in a row. And the news is bad in every branch.
As of April 30 the Army had achieved only 85% of its target for the first five months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.... Specific figures for April [weren't available] but it fell short of the monthly goal of 6,600. In March the Army had hoped to sign up 6,800 recruits but fell 32% short. That was slightly worse than in February, when a goal of 7,050 was missed by 27%.
Prior to missing the February target the Army had not fallen short of a monthly goal since May 2000.
The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have had even more trouble recruiting. In March the Army Reserve signed up barely half the 1,600 soldiers it sought. It has not met a monthly goal since December 2004, and for the period from October 2004 through March it met only 82% of its goal.
The most worrisome aspect is the National Guard and Army Reserve. Bush has completely abused the very nature of the Guard and Reserve, turning weekend warriors who should be called up only in dire situations and turning them into de facto regular army soldiers with no chance to go home even after they've fulfilled their duty. It's damaged these important reserves irreparably for decades to come, I fear, making it that much harder for us to keep this country safe down the road.