WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 — The military services had a banner year for recruiting and retention in fiscal 2010, Defense Department officials said here today.
The services met their overall numbers, and exceeded qualitative goals, said Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
The Army had the highest recruiting goal with 74,500 new soldiers, and it recruited 74,577. The Navy had a goal of 34,180 sailors and recruited 34,140. The Marine Corps recruited 28,041 young men and women on a goal of 28,000. The Air Force recruited 28,493 airmen, topping a goal of 28,360.
All of the reserve components made their fiscal-year goals, with the exception of the Army National Guard. The Army Guard intentionally missed its recruiting goal in order to stay within end-strength limits.
The services also set quality records with 100 percent of the recruits in the Army and Marine Corps having a high school diploma. In the Air Force, the percentage with at least a high school diploma was 99 percent and in the Navy, 98 percent.
However, the services are not taking this success for granted, Stanley said.
“Recruiting is always going to be a challenge,” he said. “It’s still a challenge.”
While the high unemployment rate has helped spur recruiting, it was not the biggest reason young men and women decided to join the military, Stanley said.
“As we look at where we are right now in terms of the challenges facing us, it’s more to it than the economy,” he said. “To a person — serving their nation, doing it with honor, being patriots — seems to be the recurring theme that comes up every time we look at and talk to those who are wearing a uniform today, and we’re still proud to have that in our active and our reserve components, and our Guard.”
Stanley said the propensity of Americans to enlist is higher than it has been in the past. Still, he said, there are difficulties. Only three of every 10 Americans in the prime recruiting group of 17 to 24 years of age are even qualified to enlist, he added. Many candidates, he said, are disqualified for medical, educational or conduct reasons. Also, he added, the military and private industries are in competition for these prime recruits.
“We know that as the economy turns, our business will get a little tougher,” said Maj. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., the commander of Army Recruiting Command. “But I believe if we set the conditions now in the Army like we’re trying to do and focus on quality of life, taking care of our soldiers and our families and focusing on those tools that allow them to recruit in difficult environments, then we’ll be okay.
“But the bottom-line premise for all services,” Campbell continued, “will be that three in 10 is the number that we’re going to have to choose to look at in 17-to-24-year-olds.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)