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Report: U.S. Army Finds it Tough to Recruit Bay Staters

January 23, 2009

Boston, MA – The U.S. Army is failing to meet its recruitment goals, despite spending hundreds of millions on advertising, arcade games, and other recruiting enticements. A new study shows those efforts are not bringing in enough enlistments, or enough quality enlistments, even though the Pentagon had reported the Army was surpassing recruitment goals.

Suzanne Smith, research director with the National Priorities Project, wrote the report. She found a disproportionate number of recruits are coming from southern states, and the Bay State has one of the lowest recruitment rates.

"Partly, because people are more educated in Massachusetts; there are other opportunities. And, in southern states, there’s also more of a tradition of military service."

Smith cites a recent Pentagon advisory group report that found the rising costs of military personnel, healthcare and overhead are part of the reason the Department of Defense budget is "unsustainable" in tough economic times. The study calls for a new strategy to reduce the ever-increasing call for more troops.

"Take care of those who have served, and who are serving now. The other thing is to have a new strategy and a new foreign policy using diplomacy rather than military might."

The Army raised recruiting goals to meet requests for higher troop levels, and Smith says it's possible the pool of qualified candidates has been largely exhausted after several years of war and demand for troops worldwide.

Smith says the Army missed recruiting goals nationwide by at least 10,000 in 2008, and the Army has missed its "quality" goal - high school diplomas and upper test scores on an armed force test - for recruits four years in a row. The Army had claimed it surpassed recruiting goals; this analysis found that not to be true, when compared to the number who reported for duty.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA