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Send those young Repubicans over to enlist; they’re the true patriots anyway, right? This sh*t is all falling apart at the seams. Guard Reports Serious Decline in Recruitment (NYT):

In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000.

In addition, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, said on Thursday that he needed $20 billion to replace arms and equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan or left there for other Army and Air Guard units to use, so that returning reservists will have enough equipment to deal with emergencies at home.

The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police.

…The Guard has already said it intends to increase the number of recruiters to 4,100 from 2,700 over the next three months, the first large increase since 1989.

“We’re in a more difficult recruiting environment, period,” General Blum told reporters in disclosing the new figures and the new incentives. “There’s no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard’s participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult.”

There are 42,000 Army National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq and Kuwait, and 8,200 serving in Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, General Blum said, there have been about 100,000 Army National Guard troops activated for duty at home or abroad at any given time.

General Blum’s remarks come just a few days after the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that the Army Reserve recruiting was in a “precipitous decline” that, if unchecked, could inspire renewed debate over the draft. General Helmly told the newspaper that he personally opposed reviving the draft.

For the first two months of the fiscal year 2005, which started Oct. 1, the Army Reserve has also stumbled, falling 315 recruits short of its goal of 3,170 soldiers – a drop of 10 percent.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding