WASHINGTON — All branches of the Armed Forces met or exceeded their recruitment goals for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and the Army expects to accelerate its expansion in the next two years, top brass at the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told reporters that the Army recruited 80,407 new soldiers this year, exceeding its goal of 80,000. The Navy recruited 37,361 just over its goal of 37,000; the Marines recruited 35,603, skimming the top of its 35,576 objective. The Air Force exactly met its new enlistment rate of 27,801.
All services met their recruiting standards except for the Army in one category — percentage of new recruits with high school diplomas. The Army's goal is that 90 percent of new recruits have a high school diploma, but in fiscal year 2007, only 79 percent had earned their diploma, a number that Chu points out is a reflection of the national average.
Chu acknowledged that the number of waivers granted to individuals requiring special exceptions were at the high-end of the historic average. Waivers are given to new recruits for anything from health reasons to criminal history.
Chu said that to increase the Army numbers by 74,000 by 2010 — to 547,000 active duty, reservists and National Guard — recruiting goals in the next two years will have to be higher than the 80,000 set for this year. He warned that an increased force can only be achieved through improved retention, recruitment and lowering attrition rates. The Army had hoped to increase its numbers to help relieve the current strain on the forces because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.