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Report: Army Recruiting Lags In Golden State

January 26, 2009

Los Angeles, CA – Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on advertising and video games to attract potential recruits, a new report finds the U.S. Army is not hitting its recruitment goals nationwide, or in California.

Suzanne Smith, research director with the National Priorities Project, wrote the report.

"In California, the recruitment rates are among the lowest and so is the percentage of recruits who have high school diplomas."

Research Director Suzanne Smith says the analysis indicates that the pool of potential quality candidates has likely been largely exhausted because of wars and other military duties, like protecting energy supplies. And missing recruiting benchmarks comes at a time when a Pentagon advisory group is warning that rising costs for military personnel, health care and overhead are “unsustainable” in tough economic times.

"We need to take care of those who have served, and we need to re-think our engagement in military conflict in order that we may have the funds to take care of the people who have served," according to Smith.

Pentagon analysts project a $60 billion increase in the 2010 defense budget, largely tied to requests to increase troop levels.

While supporting America’s ability to defend its interests, Smith says the study suggests it is time for a new game plan to reduce the ever-increasing call for more troops.

"The other thing is to have a new strategy and a new foreign policy using diplomacy rather than military might, and make sure there are other avenues for young people to get ahead without risking their lives, unnecessarily."

Other service for youth could include expanded AmeriCorps opportunities working with those in poverty and helping people recover from natural disasters. That might appeal to youth in California, where the state comes in 42nd for Army recruitment.

Out of the 6,087 California men and women recruited in 2008, only 44.9 percent were considered "quality" recruits, defined by Army standards as high school graduates with good incoming test scores.

Another factor in the Army missing recruiting goals is the ever-increasing call for new recruits, with 65,000 more requested this year.

According to Smith, the Army missed recruiting goals nationwide by at least 10,000 in 2008, and has missed its "quality" goal for recruits four years in a row. The Army had claimed goals were met; this analysis found that not to be the case when compared to the number who reported for duty.

The full report is at www.nationalpriorities.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA