Local News

Quantity of Recruits Doesn't Mean Quality

Posted July 13, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Military downsizing is shrinking the size of our troops. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are not only getting smaller, they're branching out in a different direction.

Many people decide to join the armed forces because it's a family tradition. Others think the education benefits can help them get ahead. Whatever their reasons for enlisting, more people in the South are signing up than ever before.

Perry Duws is enlisting in the Army. The 26 year old never really thought about the Army as a career early on, but changed his mind after moving to Fayetteville.

"Everybody I meet is in the army," Duws explains, "and they look like they are doing good and fine so it influenced me a lot."

Army recruiters say having Fort Bragg and other military installations in the South really helps the recruiting process in North Carolina.

"What we can do is take them out at Fort Bragg, actually let them see the job the individual is doing out there, put them in that position," says recruiter SGT Beverly Kaiser. "That helps a great deal."

The latest figures from the Department of Defense show recruiting in the South is way up. Twenty years ago, 49 of every 100 recruits were from the Northeast and North Central parts of the country, compared to 32 of every 100 who were from the South. Last year, recruiting in the South went way up. The North went down.

Officials say there are a number of reasons for the change. The general population has shifted, and military installations are scarce in the North. It also helps to have a high population of military retirees living in the South.

"They see the young adults as someone they can give information to and get them into the mindset of what they can look forward to and how they can achieve some goals," explains recruiter SGT Michael Williams.

While more recruits are coming from the South, they are not all considered "high quality" based on the qualification test. The South was below average with 59 percent of its recruits considered high quality.