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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Army Faces Recruiting Slump

According to unpublicized studies by the Pentagon, the Army is facing what could be a prolonged recruitment slump. In particular, blacks and women are increasingly wary of enlisting, seeing the risks of combat in a war they don't necessarily support outweighing any benefits to joining.

The Army is currently 6% behind in its goal of expanding by 30,000 troops. Although Army officials cite an improved economy for one reason behind the lower numbers, they also note that the percentage of active-duty blacks has dropped from nearly 23% just before 9/11 to about 14% today. Black parents, who often strongly influence career choices of their children, appear to be discouraging their children from enlisting.

The share of females in recruit classes is also slipping sharply, from 21.6% in 2001 to just over 17% today.

Lack of interest in an Army career also appears to cut across race and gender lines; a cross-section survey of young people ranked the Army dead last among possible career choices.

The Marines -- who, along with the Army, have suffered the brunt of deaths and injuries in the Iraq war -- are also seeing lower recruiting numbers. The Navy and Air Force, however, reportthat their recruitment numbers are on track. This trend may continue for as long as the US military suffers casualties in Iraq.

Source: MSNBC