Attrition: December 19, 2004


The U.S. Army National Guard, a reserve force that belongs to state governments in peacetime, is the only portion of the American armed forces to suffer recruiting problems because of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, the National Guard planned to recruit 7,900 men and women who had just finished their active duty service. But they only got 2,900. Recently discharged soldiers have long been a major source (about 60 percent) of new people for the National Guard. These troops are already trained, and are attracted to maintaining their military skills, and getting 5-6 weeks of their military pay each year for part time service. In addition there are fringe benefits like college tuition payments and bonuses for some job specialties. Normally, Army National Guard units are only called up for local emergencies. This appeals to the National Guard troops, who tend to be public spirited in the first place. But the prospect of getting mobilized for 18 months of active duty every 4-5 years is less appealing. So last year the strength of the Army National Guard fell from 350,000 to 343,000. To address the problem, the National Guard is increasing its staff of full time recruiters from 2,700 to 4,300. The National Guard is making the most of so many of its troops being called to active duty by going after young men and women who see that as a plus. There are many who like the idea of military service, but dont want to do three or more years full time. You can join the National Guard for 3-6 years, and expect to spend most of that time on part time duty. The fringe benefits are also being increased, with more health care and bonuses.


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