It’s getting drafty in here.
The Army missed its March recruiting goal by 32 percent, and the Marine Corps also came up short, officials said on Friday, as the Iraq war undermined the all-volunteer U.S. military’s ability to sign up new troops.
The active-duty Army, in danger of missing its first annual recruiting goal since 1999, netted 4,650 recruits in March, far below its goal of 6,800 for the month, Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said.
The Army also came up short in February after achieving every monthly recruiting target since May 2000, and officials have said an internal forecast indicated it will miss April’s goal as well.
Through March, Smith said, the Army was 11 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target, with the intention of getting 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30.
The situation was worse in the part-time Army Reserve and Army National Guard, with the Pentagon relying heavily on reservists to maintain troop levels in Iraq.
The Army Reserve missed its March recruiting goal by 46 percent — getting 861 recruits with a goal of 1,600 — and was now nearly 18 percent behind its year-to-date goal.
The Army National Guard said it did not yet have its March numbers, but has missed its recruiting goal in every month of the current fiscal year through February and was 26 percent behind its year-to-date goal. The Army National Guard fell short of its overall goal in 2004.
The Marines in March, for a third straight month, missed their goal for signing up new recruits. Until January, the Marines had not missed such a goal in more than a decade.
Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesman Maj. David Griesmer said 2,999 new recruits in March signed enlistment contracts to begin serving within a year, missing the target of 3,055 by 2 percent. Year-to-date, the Marines were about 1 percent behind, with the goal of signing up 38,195 new Marines in fiscal 2005.