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Big Surprise…The National Guard falls short of recruiting goal this year. And guess what…they’re going to come after high schoolers. Can you feel the draft…

Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in an interview at his Pentagon office that the shortfall for the budget year ending Sept. 30 is likely to be about 5,000 soldiers. That is a little more than 1% of the total Army Guard force of 350,000.

The Guard had set a goal of 56,000 recruits for the year but is likely to end up with about 51,000, he said.

As a result, Blum said he will increase the number of recruiters and put more effort into targeting young people in high school and college who have not previously served in the military.

…Blum said he sees two main reasons why the Guard is attracting fewer soldiers from the active-duty force — a pool of recruits that in some states accounts for half of the total new Guard members in a given year.

One reason is that the active-duty Army is prohibiting soldiers in units that are in Iraq or Afghanistan, or are preparing to deploy there, from leaving the service, even if their enlistment term is up. Thus the number who might consider moving into the Guard has shrunk temporarily.

The other reason, Blum said, is that active-duty soldiers are aware that a growing number of Guard units are being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus they figure there is little to be gained, in terms of reduced personal risk, by switching from active duty to the Guard.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding