Do you feel a draft?

Even after lowering its expectations, the Army fails to meet its recruiting standards for the fourth month in a row.

By Tim Grieve
Published June 8, 2005 12:45PM (EDT)

Ever notice how the airlines exaggerate the amount of time a flight should take so that they can claim your plane is "on time" even if it's really 20 minutes late?

The Army apparently has. Earlier this year, without any public notice, the Army reduced its recruiting goal for May from 8,050 new recruits to 6,700, the New York Times reports today. But as it turns out, the Army couldn't even reach the reduced goal: The Army will admit later this week that it lured in only 5,000 new soldiers in May -- just 75 percent of its new goal and only 62 percent of its previous goal. As the Times notes, it's the fourth month in a row that the Army has failed to meet its recruiting goals.

No wonder the Pentagon postponed its usual monthly recruiting report earlier this month. A Pentagon official said then that the military needed some time to contextualize and explain its recruiting results to the American people. Now that we're getting a glimpse at the numbers, we sure understand the concern. The Times notes that the Pentagon has added 1,000 new recruiters since last September, started a new ad campaign, offered starting bonuses of up to $2,000 and begun sending sending Iraq and Afghanistan vets out on rounds with recruiters. The payoff for all of those efforts: By the end of May, the Army was "about 8,300 soldiers behind its projected year-to-date number of enlistees sent to basic training by now," the Times says. The Pentagon is hoping for a big summer, when it says that recruiting is generally easier. But one recruiter tells the Times that he doesn't think that's going to be the case this year. "I don't see much interest among the high school seniors," he said.

We can't imagine why.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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