WASHINGTON, June 23, 2006 - The Army Reserve may fall 3 percent or 4 percent short of its recruiting goal for the year, but its new chief said that's not necessarily "a bad-news story."
"We are not where we would hope to be right now in recruiting, but we are very, very close," Army Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz told Pentagon reporters during a media roundtable June 21.
As of late May, the Army Reserve was just over 800 recruits short of its year-to-date goal of 20,175. "We are at about 96 percent of our goal for recruiting for this time of year," Stultz said.
The Army Reserve slightly exceeded its recruiting goal for May, and Stultz said he expects that trend to continue through early summer as new high school graduates enter the force.
Another boost could come through the Army's announcement that it's raised the maximum enlistment age for both its active and reserve components from 40 to 42. The Army Reserve previously raised its age limit in March 2005, from 35 to 40.
However, with about 16,000 more recruits needed to meet the component's 36,000 goal for the year, Stultz said he expects the Army Reserve to remain at the 96- or 97-percent level by late September.
Stultz cited several factors the numbers alone don't reveal, but that bode well for Army readiness overall:
- More Army Reservists are electing to go into the active Army. During the past year alone, the Army Reserve sent about 1,300 more people onto active duty than it got in return. In past years, the exchange rate between the two components has been about one-to-one, or slightly weighted in favor of the Reserve, Stultz said. "We are finding that soldiers are deploying and saying, 'I want to stay on active duty,'" he said. "I am not resisting that. I may be losing soldiers, but I'm losing them to the active Army, which is a good-news story."
- Active-duty soldiers, traditionally a major source of Army Reserve recruits, are remaining on active duty at higher rates than in the past. Stultz called the fact that the active Army is retaining more soldiers another good-news story. "But it affects my strength, because in the past, I've gotten a lot of those soldiers coming into the Reserve when leaving active duty," he said.
- Fewer Army Reservists are leaving the force, with attrition at its lowest point since fiscal 2000. Retention in the Army Reserve currently stands at about 96 percent, but Stultz said he expects to meet the year-end goal. "I'm confident of that," he said.