All of the U.S. Military services, with the exception of the Army and Air National Guard met their recruiting and retention goals for Fiscal Year 2004 (which ended on September 30), according to Department of Defense (DOD) recruiting documents.
The Army enlisted 77,587 soldiers through September, besting the year's goal by 587 soldiers.
Through Sept. 29, the Navy reported that it enlisted 39,874 sailors, bettering its goal by 254 sailors.
The Air Force said it enlisted 34,362 service members for the year, topping its recruiting goal by 282 people.
The Marine Corps reported it had enlisted 36,794 service members for the fiscal 2004, which topped its goal by 21 enlistees.
The Coast Guard recruited 3,809 over their recruiting goal of 3,800. It should be noted that the services purposely do not exceed their recruiting goals by large factors, because this may cause them to exceed the authorized active duty strength levels imposed by Congress. Instead, before the new fiscal year even begins, the services start signing many recruits into the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), so they will enlist on active duty and ship out to basic training during the next fiscal year (in effect, getting a "head start" on the next fiscal year's recruiting goals).
Even though the the services are only a few days into the new fiscal year (FY 2005), thousands of recruits are already waiting in the DEP. The Army is a little worried because they have significantly fewer members in the DEP at the start of this fiscal year than they had at the beginning of FY 2004, but officials admit that FY 2004 began with an unusually higher number of recruits in the DEP (as compared to prior years). Last year, the Army had about 35 percent of their FY 2004 recruiting goal waiting in the DEP at the start of the fiscal year. This year, the number has decreased to about 18 percent. However, officials anticipate few problems meeting their FY 2005 goal. To help ensure this, the Army is planning to put 1,000 more recruiters into the field and make more agressive use of enlistment bonuses and other enlistment incentives throughout FY 2005.
Meanwhile, the Air Force and the Navy have decreased the number of recruits they will be enlisting in FY 2005. Both of the services are over their congressionally-mandated active duty end strength, and must decrease in size by the end of the fiscal year.
Unfortunately, the National Guard is not doing as well. Both the Army and the Air National Guard reported that they'd missed their 2004 enlisted recruiting objectives. Many people join the National Guard with the expectation of part-time service (one weekend per month, and four weeks per year). However, in the past several years, it's become more and more common to mobilize National Guard forces to supplement active duty combat deployments. Some Guard members find themselves recalled to active duty for periods of one to two years. As of October 6, there were 173,335 members of the Reserves and National Guard who were mobilized in support of the "War on Terrorism."
Surprisingly, however, while the Army and Air National Guard missed their FY 2004 recruiting goal, the Army, Naval, Marine Corps and Air Force Reserve said they'd met their recruiting goals for the year.