By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
July 10, 2008 - Defense officials today pointed to the 13th consecutive month of recruiting success as a sign that the all-volunteer force, now 35 years old, remains solid. Recruiting and retention statistics for June, released today, show that all services met or exceeded their active-duty recruiting goals. The June figures mark more than a full year of across-the-board recruiting successes.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said this trend, particularly during a protracted conflict, demonstrates the strength of the all-volunteer force.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed appreciation earlier this week for military recruiters and the big role they play in filling the ranks in a challenging recruiting environment. He noted during his June 8 visit with enlisted troops in Mosul, Iraq, that only 30 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are eligible for military service.
"I've seen tremendous success in recruiting all across the services," he told the troops during an "all-hands call" at Forward Operating Base Marez. "My hat goes off to those who recruit as they continue to make their numbers from month to month."
The June recruiting and retention figures reflect recruiters' hard work and young people's continued willingness to step up and serve, Lainez said. The Army signed up 9,365 new soldiers in June, 101 percent of its 9,250-soldier goal. The Marine Corps recruited 4,531 Marines, topping its monthly goal of 3,934 recruits by 15 percent. The Navy met its goal of 4,209 sailors, and the Air Force brought in 2,203 airmen, six recruits over its June goal.
In the reserve components, the trend lines remained positive as well, Lainez said. The Army National Guard recruited 5,290 soldiers in June, 100 percent of its goal. The Marine Corps Reserve reached its goal with 1,054 recruits. Despite falling 1 percent short of its June goal, the Army Reserve, with 3,138 new recruits in June, stands at 108 percent of its year-to-date goal, Lainez said.
The Air National Guard recruited 910 airmen, 119 percent of its June goal, and the Air Force Reserve met its 690-airman goal. The Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve both met their June goals, recruiting 725 sailors and 690 airmen, respectively.
Meanwhile, retention remained strong in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Lainez said, with each service meeting or exceeding its year-to-date goals.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, praised troops' commitment to continue serving as he re-enlisted 1,215 servicemembers during a Fourth of July ceremony in Baghdad.
"Volunteering to continue to serve our nation while deployed is both noble and inspiring," he said. "It is, as award citations often state, in keeping with the finest traditions of our military services."
July 1 marked the 35th anniversary of the U.S. armed forces consisting solely of volunteers. Until July 1973, the military operated under an involuntary draft policy to produce manpower to fight the country's wars. Draftees served during both world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Since then, volunteers have served the armed forces through peacetime and war, including the Cold War and conflicts in Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere around the world.
Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel and policy, said the all-volunteer force has continued to prove itself during ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"There were concerns about how today's fight would affect retention, and yet, retention has been as strong as any period in our history," he said on the all-volunteer force's 35th anniversary. "Volunteers want to serve; their performance is strong, their behaviors are strong, and their discipline is high."
Their choice to become members of the armed forces "speaks volumes for the dedication and loyalty of our nation and its volunteers," Carr said.