Local News

National Guard Having Trouble Attracting New Recruits

Posted September 24, 2004

— Each branch of the Armed Forces is required to recruit a certain amount of troops each fiscal year. That period ends next week. The National Guard is not having trouble retaining soldiers, but it is having problems attracting new ones.

In southwest Asia, National Guard and Reserve troops make up about 37 percent of the forces on the ground. Units are shuttled in and out of the warzone, sometimes on one-year deployments, which leaves very little time for units to recruit. Now, it is beginning to show up in the numbers.

"The Navy and Air Force have too many people. The Army and Marines need more," said WRAL military analyst Lt. Gen. Robert Springer said.

Springer said the Army and Marines are now recruiting former sailors and airmen, still eligible for service.

"They've got the military background. They've got the basic training behind them and they can recruit them in the various career fields," Springer said.

Springer said the Achilles heel for recruiting in the near future is filling the part-time ranks.

"We may have trouble recruiting in the Guard and Reserve because those people in their minds didn't sign up to do this for a year or two years at a time and then get called back up in another couple of years," he said.

The trouble with recruiting usually rekindles talk of reinstituting the draft. A bill to do so is now floating around Congress, but Springer is not optimistic.

"I think there's zero chance that we'll ever return to the draft," he said.

Springer said the American public would not support a draft that was discontinued more than 30 years ago. As for bumping up the numbers in the National Guard, the plan is to increase recruiters and do a better job targeting high school and college students.

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