Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Military Recruitment Up Despite U.S. Pessimism

This Associated Press report indicates that military recruitment is up in recent months, fulfulling new enlistment goals for the 2007 budget year:

Though Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops. The Navy and Air Force met their recruiting goals last month while the Army and Marine Corps exceeded theirs, the Defense Department announced.

The Army, which is bearing the brunt of the work in Iraq, did the best. It signed up 6,485 new recruits in November compared with its target of 6,150 _ meaning 105 percent of its goal.

All the services turned in similar performances in October as well, meaning they so far are meeting their goals for the 2007 budget year that began Oct. 1.

"The services are starting off well," said Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman.

The progress in recruiting comes as U.S. pessimism over the Iraq campaign mounts, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll. Some 63 percent of Americans said they don't expect a stable, democratic government to be established in Iraq, up from 54 percent who felt that way in June.

Dissatisfaction with President Bush's handling of Iraq has climbed to an all-time high of 71 percent, according to the AP-Ipsos survey this month.
A bipartisan commission last week released its recommendations for a new course and the president held a series of meetings this week to hear from his advisers.

According to figures released Tuesday by the Pentagon, the Navy signed up 2,887 recruits last month, or 100 percent of its goal; Marines signed up 2,095, or 104 percent of its 2,012 target and the Air Force signed up all 1,877 it was seeking.

The Army also met its goal in the 2006 budget year after missing its target in fiscal year 2005 for the first time since 1999. It added recruiters and offered recruits bonuses to help attract more to the service.

The Army has been recruiting about 80,000 people a year, setting differing monthly goals depending on the time of the year.

Though the active services are doing well, recruiting has lagged for the Army Reserve and Navy Reserve, officials said.

The Army Reserve last month signed up 1,888, or just 79 percent of its 2,376 goal and the Navy Reserve signed up 687 recruits, or just 91 percent of its 755 goal.

The data on public pessimism keep coming, by the way, in contrast to the upbeat recruitment numbers. More and more Americans, for example, are indicating firm support for a fixed timetable on withdrawal from Iraq. Fifty-two percent favored a firm schedule for withdrawal in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times Poll.

See also this report on U.S. pessimism on Iraq from CBS News (PDF), with its dire lead-in paragraph:

Americans have never been as pessimistic about the war in Iraq as they are today. They see things as going badly, and a majority doubts that the U.S. can win. Americans believe that the situation in Iraq is getting worse, and that Iraq will never become a stable democracy. More than six in 10 say the war was a mistake.
Maybe all the new military enlistees have been turning off the news -- either that, or those patriotic enough to sign up for national service have a clearer picture of the stakes for the U.S. in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the long war against global terror.

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