Don't be spooked by misleading AP headlines like "Army Has Record Low Level of Recruits" published a week ago. The MSM's confusing two different concepts: force structure (the overall size of the military) and our present ability to fill those positions. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, the threat of a conventional war diminished and we down-sized our forces. As the Congressional Research Service summarized in 2004:
[The] strength of the U.S. active duty force never dropped below 2.0 million personnel and peaked at over 3.5 million during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. From 1989 to 1999, end strength dropped steadily from 2.1 million to 1.4 million, where it has remained. Force structure dropped even more, with active Army divisions, for example, going from 18 to 10.So while it may be true that we have fewer bodies in basic than before, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. America's military is stronger today because it's smarter and takes better advantage of force-multiplying technologies.
As for recruiting, as documented here many times before, we're doing fine, meeting all active duty targets for the recently-ended FY 2007. In particular, the figures show:
- The Army and Navy ended the year at 101 percent of their active duty recruiting targets;
- The Air Force and Marine Corps finished at 100 percent of their active duty recruiting targets;
- "Retention remains extremely strong in the active force with all Services having met or exceeded their aggregate year-to-date targets."; and
- Four of the six reserve components exceeded recruiting targets (the Army National Guard hit 95 percent; the Air National Guard hit 93 percent), though it's worth noting that reserve signing can lag during wartime because recruits typically want to serve immediately.
(portions of this post previously were published on