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More recruiters, advertising part of effort to help Army's shortfall

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is counting on 3,000 new recruiters to help make up for a big shortfall in new Army enlistees this year, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.

The Army also could speed up the enlistment dates of some new recruits under its delayed entry program in order to meet its recruitment goal, Pace said, but he acknowledged that the measure would shift the problem to next year.

The Army also hopes to draw on airmen and sailors who are leaving the Air Force and Navy because of reductions in their ranks. It also has increased its budget for advertising for new recruits.

"From the standpoint of new recruiting, we need to work harder to get the Army message out to our young men and women who are prospective volunteers," Pace said at a news conference. "And as a country, we need to encourage our young people to serve this country in a time of need."

The Army needs at least 80,000 new recruits this year to keep its ranks up to strength, but officials announced last week that they had missed their target of recruiting 6,700 new soldiers in May by 25 percent. With recruiters off the mark for four straight months and only four months left in fiscal year 2005, the Army is scrambling between now and September to sign up almost half of its annual goal.

Pace also noted that Congress ordered the Army to add another 8,000 soldiers to its overall strength this year.

Even though the new recruiters had been on the job for several months, they needed more time, Pace said.

"I was on recruiting duty for three years in Buffalo, New York, in 1980 to 1983. It takes time. It takes anywhere from four to six months for a new recruiter, a new Sergeant Pace, to come onto duty, get trained up and become effective in talking to prospective applicants," he said.

While recruiting numbers are down, he said soldiers who are on active duty "are re-enlisting at historic numbers."

"We have had the goals for re-enlistment exceeded, especially by those units who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq," Pace said. "Why? Because those soldiers have had the opportunity to serve the country the way the volunteered to do. They get it. They understand the tremendous positive impact they're having."

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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