By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2006 – Five years after military recruiting hit the ceiling after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, recruiting remains solid, with every service meeting its active-duty recruiting goal for the 15th consecutive month. Recruiting and retention statistics for August, just released by the Defense Department, show the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all meeting or exceeding both their monthly as well as year-to-date recruiting goals for the year.
At the same time, retention remains solid across the board, with all services expected to meet their retention goals for the fiscal year, officials said. During August, the Army recruited almost 10,500 soldiers, 104 percent of its goal, and the Marine Corps signed on more than 4,300 Marines, 107 percent of its goal. The Navy and Air Force both met their August goals, recruiting almost 4,100 sailors and almost 3,200 airmen, respectively.
Recruiting numbers in the reserve components were also up in August, with all components but the Army Reserve and Air Force Reserve meeting or exceeding their goals, defense officials said. The Army National Guard recruited more than 6,500 soldiers, 100 percent of its goal. The Navy Reserve signed on almost 1,100 sailors, 106 percent of its goal; and the Marine Corps Reserve, with more than 800 recruits, exceeded its monthly goal by 1 percent. The Air National Guard recruited more than 1,000 airmen, 128 percent of its August goal.
The Air Force Reserve fell 1 airman short of its 849 goal, officials said. The Army Reserve, with more than 2,400 accessions, met 62 percent of its August goal but is faring better in year-to-date recruiting, which stands at 94 percent of the 33,100-plus goal, officials said. Marine Corps Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, called the latest recruiting and retention successes a positive sign that the services are attracting the manpower they need to maintain a quality force for the future.
"The numbers also indicate that people out there understand that we are involved in a global war on terror and are making the decision to serve this country at this important time," Upton said.
High retention rates military-wide show that once people join the military, many choose to continue their service. In addition to a good pay and benefits package and the benefit of learning skills, military service offers other less-tangible rewards, Upton said.
"They're staying in because many feel they have found a home, a family," he said. "And they feel that they belong to something important. They feel that they are needed in this global war on terror, and they want to be a part of it."