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Jan-21-2009 10:21printcomments

Group Finds Significant Gap in the Army's 2008 Quantity and Quality Goals

On the Heels of the U.S. Army's announced goal of 65,000 additional recruits, National Priorities Project (NPP) finds significant gap in Army's 2008 quantity and quality goals

U.S. soldiers enroute to Iraq last summer, photographed in the Atlanta Airport.
U.S. soldiers enroute to Iraq last summer, photographed in the Atlanta Airport. photo by Tim King

(NORTHAMPTON, Mass.) - A new NPP analysis highlights a significant gap in the Army's 2008 quantity and quality goals. Using census material, combined with data on 2008 Army enlistment obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, NPP research also uncovers a continued trend of disproportionate recruits from southern states.

This work is a result of an expanded NPP initiative, which now includes a database of 2004-2008 military recruitment numbers broken down by zip code, county and state. A snapshot analysis and overview of current military recruitment data, which includes a ranking of counties by recruits per thousand youth, charts and tables on a particular county, zip code or state is available at

“Analysts project a $60 billion increase in the 2010 defense budget, largely tied to increasing troop levels. This increase does not include a six month supplemental funding request to pay for the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is expected to approach, if not exceed $70 billion,” notes Suzanne Smith, Research Director for National Priorities Project. “These budget figures, combined with a call for increased troop numbers, are striking in light of a report recently issued by a Pentagon advisory group which noted that 'rising costs of military personnel, their healthcare and overhead' exacerbated the problem of an 'unsustainable' Defense Department budget in tough economic times.”

NPP's new data shows:

While the army claims 80,517 new army recruits this year, surpassing its goal of 80,000, in actuality, its figures reflect the number of individuals with whom they have some form of – often non-binding – contract. The number of accessions, or actual recruits who reported for duty in 2008, was 69,357.

The percent of Tier 1 recruits, at 74% is 16 percentage points below the army's goal of 90%. This is the fourth year running that the army has missed its “quality” goal.

The highest recruitment rates – defined as the number of recruits per thousand of 15-24 year-old population – were found in the south with Texas, Florida and Georgia ranking in the top five states.

Jo Comerford, NPP's Executive Director adds, “Four years of missed recruiting quantity and quality goals, combined with dramatic increases in the recruitment budget, raise important questions which must be tackled. Not only are education rates down but evidence shows increases in physical and felony waivers, the latter having doubled from 2006 to 2007. It stands to reason that we must ask whether the Army has exhausted its potential supply of new quality recruits."

"Its announced intent to increase its base by 65,000 additional recruits, should signal a clarion call for a new look at the realities of an ever-expanding military. A new approach to national security is what is needed. Clearly, we are being called to a new strategy – for this new day.”

Source: The National Priorities Project

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Vic January 21, 2009 6:01 pm (Pacific time)

"call for a new look at the realities of an ever-expanding military." Why do we need an "ever expanding military"? We already spend 25 time what our closest rival spends and more than the rest of the world combined. We need to expand this? America could be such a rich and benevolent country if the military-industrial-polital complex was not siphoning off 42 cents of every dollar we have to work with. We pay quite a bit to be the neighborhood bully.

Anonymous January 21, 2009 10:42 am (Pacific time)

SOUNDS LIKE PUBLIC EDUCATION HAS CONTINUED IT'S FAILURE TO PREPARE ALL STUDENTS FOR LIFE AFTER GRADUATION. THEN WHAT IS THE DROP OUT RATE? How's that compare to different time periods? AND JUST HOW EDUCATED ARE THOSE GRADUATES? I wonder how recruiting, as well as keeping those in the military, when the "Don't ask policy..." is stopped? And what will the quality of the military be then? Afterall you are not joining Cub Med.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.