Tough times ahead for the Army.
The Army, already likely to miss its recruiting goal this year, may have even more trouble filling its ranks next year, the service’s chief of staff said Thursday.
“We’ve got enormous challenges,” Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In written testimony, he said the Army’s goal of 80,000 recruits this year “is at serious risk,” and recruiting woes will stretch “well into the future.” Next year, he wrote, “may be the toughest recruiting environment ever.”
Schoomaker’s testimony came a day after officials said the Army met its recruiting goal for June after four months of shortfalls.
Despite that progress, the active-duty Army is still 7,800 recruits behind its year-to-date goal. The service hoped to recruit 80,000 into its ranks between Oct. 1, 2004, and this Sept. 30.
Pentagon officials repeatedly asked committee members Thursday to stress the importance of military service.
“It’s very important that you and your colleagues use your considerable influence to explain to the American people and to those that are influencers out there how important it is for our young people to serve this nation at a time like this,” Schoomaker told the senators.
The appeal to lawmakers is part of an administration effort this week to ask adults – parents, teachers and coaches – to encourage the younger generation to sign up.
On Tuesday, President Bush urged more people to enlist. A day later, Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said parents should let their sons and daughters who want to join the military follow their patriotic instincts.
Perhaps the president should urge these healthy, young, patriotic Americans to enlist.
George Pee Bush
Marshall Bush (center)