Friday, March 04, 2005

Army and Marine Recruiting Shortfalls

Both ground services are having trouble meeting their monthly goals for recruitment of new troops.  Although they are just now falling short of their numerical goals, the problem has been brewing for some time.
The Army's problem has been developing for several months as the pool of volunteers who have agreed to enter service after a specified delay has shrunk and as the Army pushes new volunteers into service as fast as possible. Recruits signing up now typically wait about 50 days before shipping out to boot camp, compared with 110 days last year.
I heard an interview with a Marine officer who is in chart of their recruitment efforts.  He said that it is too soon to worry; what they care about is the yearly goal, not the monthly goals.  The NYT article implies that the concern about casualties may be one reason for the shortfalls. 

I can't prove it, of course, but I think there are two other reasons.  After all, anyone who signs up for the military knows about the risk of death, whether we are at war or not.  Other factors to consider include the fact that the public is figuring out that this is not a just war.  The president lied to us to get us to go to war.  One reason people join the military is that it seems like an honorable thing to do.  The fact that the war is based on a lie means that the President has tarnished that honor.  Not a good recruitment method.

Another possible factor is the public's perception of the troops.  Overall, people are determined, in this war, to not disrespect the soldiers the way the soldiers returning from Viet Nam were disrespected.  That is a good thing, and for the most part, it seems to be working.  But every day, we hear about the torture scandals.  At first, the Administration said that it was "a few bad apples."  But that charade is getting harder to maintain.

I can't think like an 18-year-old young man anymore, but it seems as though, from the perspective of a young adult, it would be more difficult to feel good about joining an organization that has been connected with systematic abuses of human rights.