In the budget year that ended on September 30, all four branches of the United States military — the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps — met their recruiting goals for both active duty and reserve service. It is the first time that all four branches met their goal since the all-volunteer force was created. The four branches of the service added 169,000 active duty recruits, and the National Guard and reserves added another 128,000 personnel. Achieving the goals is a difficult task; indeed, the military must recruit from a shrinking pool due to the increasing number of American high school graduates who go on to college and the number of young Americans who are obese and therefore not physically fit for service. The recruits also appear to be a better educated bunch than in past years. About 96 percent have high school diplomas, and more than 73 percent scored above average on math and verbal aptitude tests.
Both of the linked articles attribute the positive recruiting numbers to the lousy economy; with total unemployment nearing 10 percent — and with unemployment much higher among younger people — the military evidently looks like a good career option. The Pentagon’s personnel chief also sounded a more positive note, stating that studies show that young Americans are more inclined to service than me-oriented prior generations. Whatever their reason for choosing military service, we all salute their patriotism and sacrifice.