Army Recruiting Woes

In case I don’t get a chance to write a more in depth post sometime today, here’s a quick one off for yas. Fester, who blogs both for his own blog, and my own little corner of the internets, Left of Center, is, to put it bluntly, a damn genius. A top notch economic/political analyst, he some time ago focused his considerable mental prowess on the subject of military recruitment, and has continued to keep up with it since then. His insights have made those of us who read him, all the better for it.

Couple days ago, he did this nice sum up of the Army’s recruitment shortfalls over this past fiscal year despite an upturn over the summer months. He goes on to predict that things aren’t going to get much better from an almost Wall Street type perspective, and I do really recommend the quick read.

Now that you’ve read, here are a few more factors to add in to the mix. First, of the four armed forces, the Army has it the hardest based off of image alone. The Marines rarely hurt because, well, Marines are special. You’ve got to be of a special ilk to go and be a Marine, and you’re not going to be affected by financial status, political atosphere, or even war or peace time. Marines aren’t made, they’re born, and the Corps was just a place that Uncle Sam made for Marines to go when they come of age.

The Navy does okay because of the college, and the advancement stuff. That, and come on, Godsmack does the soundtrack to their commercials, what more do you want? The Airforce has it easy because the high quality of life of Airforce members is notorious.

But then you have the Army. At the best of times, Army members are still often seen as soldiers, grunts, fodder. Recruitment has to rely on one of two things. Either they try and make you forget about the grunt image, or if we’re in a really popular war, they can pull the “serving your country” card.

This general principal has made the GI bill a household name, as well as foster the Army of One campaign in which unique individuals gain real world experience and money for college. Opportunities for post Army life has been its number one selling point for some time now.

What with the continuation of the Iraq War though, the formula gets harder. As Iraq gets more and more unpopular, fewer and fewer kids will be eager to join the Army based on a belief in said war. So that “serve your country” card becomes less and less valuable. The general public image of the Army as a bunch of grunts goes up, which means the Army has to work that much harder to smother that image. Which means that signing bonuses get even bigger, more college opportunities, and maybe even commercials done to a Disturbd track. Stranger things have happened.

The whole point is this. Fester’s numbers take on recruitment looks pretty bleak for the Army. But understand that it gets worse, and the socio-political influence makes the Army’s ability to meet recruitment goals in FY06 look even bleaker.

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