Fool me once department

Published December 17, 2004 3:43PM (EST)

Army National Guard recruiters are <a target= "new" href="30 percent short of their goals, the New York Times reports today: "The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police."

An Army recruiter from Brooklyn has an idea about why the Reserves aren't luring lines of ready recruits these days: "People have the misconception that everyone goes to war and gets killed," he said. Well, can you blame them?

The biggest drain on recruitment is the soldiers who leave active duty deciding against the Guard and Reserves -- they know they'll likely get sent away to Iraq or Afghanistan for a 12-month tour. These soldiers know the drill; many have been there already. "Indeed, many of the active-duty soldiers the Army would like to enlist in the Reserves have recently fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, and some have no inclination to do so again," the Times reported.

One proposed solution is to attract more recruits with bigger signing bonuses: $15,000 for soldiers who sign up for six years (tax-free if they sign overseas!)and $10,000 for new enlistees. Is that a big enough reward for risking life and limb for this administration's bungled military escapades? For many cash-strapped soldiers and potential enlistees, it just may be incentive enough -- fitting with our history of luring and sending the less privileged among us to fight our wars.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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