Josh White’s article in today’s Washington Post concerning the Army meeting its August recruitment goal, but being off track to reach its yearly target, seems to miss or understate some of the positives expressed by the Army’s chief of staff yesterday:
Should the Army meet its goal of recruiting about 10,000 new active-duty troops this month, it will be the third consecutive month in which the service succeeded after several months of significantly missing its mark. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker told reporters yesterday that he expects the Army to miss its annual goal of 80,000 new active-duty recruits by "a couple thousand," adding that he expects recruiting in September and during the next fiscal year to be "difficult."
To begin with, it appears that some of Mr. White’s numbers don’t match those of the Department of Defense. For instance, as the article moves forward, Mr. White suggests that the Army’s recruitment goal in 2004 was 72,000. In fact, according to this DoD report, the goal was actually 77,000, and was bested by 587 recruits. As such, if the General is correct, and the Army misses its 80,000 goal by a couple of thousand recruits, it would still roughly duplicate its 2004 performance. Given the casualties, the strength of the economy, and the constant negative press about this incursion, this appears to be quite an achievement. Moreover, if one reads between the lines in this article, an amazing fact jumps out:
Schoomaker said recruiting problems are offset by high retention among active divisions, especially in units that have served or are serving in Iraq. He said the Army has exceeded its personnel retention goal by 9 percent, with soldiers in the Third Infantry Division -- now on its second tour in Iraq -- reenlisting at 112 percent of the goal. The First Cavalry Division has the highest reenlistment rate, at 138 percent of the goal, according to the Army. All 10 of the Army's divisions are surpassing retention estimates.
Imagine that: The Army is having more success retaining active personnel -- “especially in units that have served or are serving in Iraq” -- than it is having in getting new recruits. What does that say about the difference between what we’re being told is happening in Iraq versus the reality? After all, if things were as bad as our press is continually depicting, wouldn’t the Army be having a difficult time convincing its soldiers to go back?In fact, according to DoD figures, “All services met or exceeded their overall retention goals for July and are projected to meet their retention goals for the current fiscal year.”Hmmm. I wonder if our soldiers on the ground in Iraq have a different view of how this war is going than our press representatives?Finally, according to DoD stats, other than the Army, which was at 89% of its goal as of July, all of our active armed services are currently at or exceeding their fiscal 2005 recruiting goals. Now that’s not something our press seems anxious to tell us, is it?