WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2009) -- The military services' active and reserve components notched record recruiting numbers and signed up the highest-quality recruits ever in fiscal 2009, senior defense officials said today.
It is the first time that all active services and reserve components met or exceeded their numerical recruiting goals and exceeded their recruit-quality benchmarks since the start of the all-volunteer force in 1973, Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told Pentagon reporters.
While Carr acknowledged that the current economic downturn probably is having a positive effect on recruiting, he also pointed to the sterling efforts of military recruiters for the superb results and noted the military deployed a robust bonus program in which 40 percent of recruits received an average bonus of $14,000.
The recruiting success achieved in fiscal 2009 is even more impressive, Carr said, considering that 70 percent of today's high school graduates - the military's target recruiting pool - go on to college upon graduation. In the 1980s, he noted, only about half of American high school students went on to college.
A rising propensity for young people age 17 to 24 to be obese, Carr said, also complicates the military's recruiting mission.
"If we look back to the 1980s, one in 20 young people were obese," Carr said, as compared to today's ratio of 1 in 4 young people being categorized as obese. "And, that creates a tighter constraint as you seek to find fully qualified recruits," he added.
However, he said, the number of waivers issued to recruits with medical or conduct issues is trending downward.
Here are the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force recruiting results for fiscal 2009:
-- The Army had 70,045 accessions, making 108 percent of its 65,000 goal.
-- The Navy had 35,527 accessions, making 100 percent of its 35,500 goal.
-- The Marine Corps had 31,413 accessions, making 100 percent of its 31,400 goal.
-- The Air Force had 31,983 accessions, making 100 percent of its 31,980 goal.
Reserve-component recruiting results for fiscal 2009:
-- The Army National Guard had 56,071 accessions, making 100 percent of its 56,000 goal.
-- The Army Reserve had 36,189 accessions, making 105 percent of its 34,598 goal.
-- The Navy Reserve had 7,793 accessions, making 101 percent of its 7,743 goal.
-- The Marine Corps Reserve had 8,805 accessions, making 122 percent of its 7,194 goal.
-- The Air National Guard had 10,075 accessions, making 106 percent of its 9,500 goal.
-- The Air Force Reserve had 8,604 accessions, making 109 percent of its 7,863 goal.
Attrition losses in all reserve components are among the best in recent years, officials said.
Carr also attributed current recruiting success to the "Millennial" demographic of young people that includes those born between 1978 and 1996. Generational studies show, he said, that these young people - who've lived during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States - are more inclined to perform public service.
Additionally, Carr said, Congress continues to provide the Defense Department with sufficient funding to sustain the all-volunteer force.
Studies also show that young people can make a good living in the military, Carr said, as compared to their civilian peers with equitable workplace experience and education qualifications. Generous pay raises provided to junior officers and mid-level noncommissioned officers in recent years, he noted, have boosted those servicemembers' earning capacity.
"It has been a banner year for recruiting," Curtis L. Gilroy, director of accession policy, told American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel reporters during an Oct. 9 interview at the Pentagon.
Gilroy, too, saluted the "outstanding" performance of the services' military recruiters. His directorate is a component of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Fiscal 2009's crop of recruits also represents the best quality ever, Gilroy said, noting 96 percent of active-duty recruits and 95 percent of reserve-component recruits possessed a high school diploma. The Defense Department benchmark for recruits with high school diplomas is 90 percent. Studies show, he added, that 80 percent of servicemembers with high school diplomas complete their initial term of service.
Gilroy said 73 percent of active recruits and 72 percent of reserve-component recruits scored average or above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The AFQT measures an individual's math and verbal ability, which indicates aptitude for military service. The department sets a benchmark of 60 percent of all recruits scoring at or above the 50th percentile on the AFQT.
"As you can see from these numbers," Gilroy said, "the services have far exceeded those benchmarks" in fiscal 2009 for signing up recruits with high school diplomas and those with average or better AFQT scores. Increased capabilities demonstrated by the majority of the nearly 300,000 active and reserve component recruits signed up in fiscal 2009, he added, will result in higher performance in the field and will enhance readiness.