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Army to miss recruiting targets, sibling combat policy on the table

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog.]

By serving the country and protecting our freedoms, your son or daughter will be building a better future for others as well as for him or herself. A future full of pride, honor and opportunities.

But the benefits don’t end there. Your son or daughter can also earn money for college, gain training in a multitude of skill areas, receive excellent healthcare benefits and take advantage of a wide variety of career options, just to name a few.

— Web site

Have you seen the sorry-ass commercials for the Army lately? The latest campaign is a naked appeal to parents’ patriotism, and so far, I’ve seen ones featuring white, black and Latino families, each with young people (men and women) talking to their parent about “making a commitment” or “doing something to make a difference in the world” — all soft-sell stuff — the punch line is the Army logo up onscreen. The bottom line is that the kid is “doing the right thing to make their folks proud of them.” Take a look at one of the PR efforts here.

It’s such transparent bullsh*t that you realize how desperate the situation must be. The Army is so hard up that it has already raised the maximum age for the National Guard and Reserve to 39. Even the limit on the amount of siblings from one family they will allow in harm’s way is under discussion. Anything to avoid the draft. (

The Army missed its recruiting goal for February by 27 percent, and that was the first time it had missed a monthly goal since May 2000. The last time it missed its full-year goal was 1999.

As of Feb. 28, the regular Army was 6 percent below the number of recruits it had expected to sign up at that point in the recruiting year, the Army Reserve was 10 percent off and the Army National Guard was 25 percent off.

The Army is forecasting that all three elements — active, Guard and Reserve — will fall short of their targets for March and April. That means they will have to make up the lost ground this summer — traditionally the best recruiting season — in order to meet their full-year goals.

One of those new approaches is designed to persuade more parents to steer their children to the Army. “We’re going to appeal to patriotism,” he said. That might be done through a new advertising campaign, he said. He also is encouraging more members of Congress as well as senior Army leaders and Army boosters to spend time in local communities touting the benefits of military service.

The Army also has increased the number of recruiters on the street by 33 percent and is offering bigger signup bonuses. Last week the Army announced that the National Guard and Reserve were raising the maximum age for recruits from 34 to 39 in order to expand the pool of potential enlistees. The regular Army could not raise the maximum age without congressional approval.

Harvey also disclosed that the Army is “looking at” changing its policy on having more than one sibling in a combat zone at the same time. He did not say how the policy might be altered, and he declined to say more about the subject, other than to indicate that it came up when he visited the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where wounded U.S. troops are treated.

The current policy is that if one of two siblings in a combat zone is killed, the Army will consider removing the remaining one from the combat zone if the surviving soldier or his parents request it, according to spokeswoman Hart. She said she was not aware of any planned change.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding