Call in the 101st AirbornAgain

From Holden:

Active-duty Army recruitment tanks.

The active-duty Army is in danger of failing to meet its recruiting goals, and is beginning to suffer from manpower strains like those that have dropped the National Guard and Reserves below full strength, according to Army figures and interviews with senior officers .

For the first time since 2001, the Army began the fiscal year in October with only 18.4 percent of the year’s target of 80,000 active-duty recruits already in the pipeline. That amounts to less than half of last year’s figure and falls well below the Army’s goal of 25 percent.

Driving the manpower crunch is the Army’s goal of boosting the number of combat brigades needed to rotate into Iraq and handle other global contingencies. Yet Army officials see worrisome signs that young American men and women — and their parents — are growing wary of military service, largely because of the Iraq conflict.

“Very frankly, in a couple of places our recruiting pool is getting soft,” said Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army’s personnel chief. “We’re hearing things like, ‘Well, let’s wait and see how this thing settles out in Iraq,’ ” he said in an interview. “For the active duty for ’05 it’s going to be tough to meet our goal, but I think we can. I think the telling year for us is going to be ’06.”

[snip]

Never before has the all-volunteer Army deployed to war zones in such large numbers for multiple, yearlong tours. It is doing so with a total force cut by 300,000 troops — from 28 active-duty and reserve divisions to 18 — since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

[snip]

“If you cut down 300,000 trees, you can do that pretty quick, but now grow 30,000 of them back,” Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, told a House Armed Services committee hearing Feb. 9. “It takes time, as you know, to grow the quality soldier.”