Artillery: August 9, 2004

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The U.S. Army is still meeting its recruiting goals, despite the lengthily tours of duty in foreign combat zones, and nearly a thousand dead from three years of the war on terror. Why are people still signing up?  The army conducted a large scale survey of new recruits in 2002, and found that 91 percent of the new recruits (before they entered basic training) said they joined because "they wanted to do something I can be proud of." This was from a survey of recruits who were questioned shortly before leaving home for basic training. Behind that in popularity were responses like "help me plan for my future," and to "be better than I was." The patriotism angle has grown as well, with 79 percent of the 2001 recruits (mostly before 911) saying they joined to "serve my country," while 82 percent of the 2002 recruits have this reason. The one problem area developing is in reserve units that have been called up more than once in the past three years. While comprising only a few percent of the manpower in the reserves, these two tour units tend to be the ones the army is most eager to keep up to strength (military police, civil affairs, intelligence.) But the army is more flexible and resourceful than it has been in the past, and is making imaginative deals with the reluctant reservists to get them to stay in. Cash bonuses and guaranteed time at home are among the tools available. For the regular army, more NCOs and officers are being assigned to recruiting duty, and re-enlistment bonuses for critical skills are being increased to a maximum of $15,000. This category includes senior NCOs in combat units, who take a decade or more to identify and develop. It takes less time, and money, to create a PhD than it does an infantry 1st Sergeant. 

 


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