Feature

The Scramble for New Recruits

Amid an unpopular war, the Pentagon faces a formidable challenge in convincing young men and women to volunteer for military service. How are recruiters filling the ranks?

How is recruitment going?After several bad years, all branches of the military reached their targets in 2006. The Army signed up 80,635; the Navy recruited 36,679; the Marine Corps, 32,337; and the Air Force, 30,889. This was a huge relief for the Pentagon because, with the Iraq war, recruitment has become steadily more difficult. And since the military is all volunteer, a shortage of troops has enormous military and political repercussions. Indeed, trying to refill the ranks solely through recruitment in wartime is rare. The Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War, and the Gulf War are the only major conflicts since 1775 that did not rely, at least in part, on conscripts.

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