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Services meet new fiscal year with recruiting success

WASHINGTON -- Defense Department officials announced the services' recruiting and retention numbers for the first month of the new fiscal year, as well as a change in the way they report recruiting numbers to the public.

The services already are off to a good start, with both active and Reserve components meeting or exceeding their year-to-date accession goals, said Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon's accession policy director.

Mr. Gilroy attributes the services' recruiting success, in part, to the economy, but also cites other significant factors, such as patriotism.

"The improved situation in Iraq and continued support from Congress also greatly enhance recruiting efforts," he said. "Patriotism is one of the contributing factors to recruiting success as well, as 4 out of 10 new Army recruits cite 'service to country' for their reason for enlisting."

Within the active-duty force, Army officials made 103 percent of their goal with 6,643 recruits against a target of 6,425. Navy officials made 100 percent of their goal with 2,291 recruits. Marine Corps officials made 100 percent of its goal with 2,457 recruits against a goal of 2,448 and Air Force officials also made 100 percent of their goal with 1,511 recruits.

The Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force retentions are near or above the fiscal year-to-date goals through October, officials said.

Within the Reserve components, Army National Guard officials made 110 percent of their accession goal, signing up 4,973 recruits against 4,504. Army Reserve officials made 108 percent of their goal with 2,774 accessions against 2,557. Navy Reserve officials met its goal of 665 accessions and Marine Corps Reserve officials were successful, making 130 percent of their goal with 1,154 accessions against a goal of 889.

Air National Guard officials made 135 percent their goal of 541 with 729 recruits, and theAir Force Reserve officials made 101 percent of their goal with 769 recruits against a goal of 760.

As for attrition rates, losses in all Reserve components were within acceptable limits, officials said.

Along with the recruiting numbers, officials announced they will now use fiscal year-to-date goals rather than monthly goals to report recruiting.

Officials decided to change the way they present the numbers to offer the public a more comprehensive look at military recruiting, Mr. Gilroy said.

To derive recruiting goals, officials consider the number of servicemembers who may choose to stay in or leave each month and then factor in a service's desired end strength. The services then adjust recruiting mission to ensure end-strength goals won't be exceeded, an official explained.

Services may purposely come in under short-term goals with the big-picture numbers in mind, Mr. Gilroy noted, a practice that can be misinterpreted when looked at on a month-to-month basis.

"In the past, the services have, on occasion, intentionally 'missed' their monthly recruiting goals to ensure they don't come in over end strength," he explained. "This gives the false impression that recruiting goals are not being met, when in fact, for the year, the services are meeting or exceeding their goals.

"By reporting against year-to-date goals, the public is provided a more comprehensive picture of military recruiting," he said.