FORT KNOX, Ky. -- U.S. Army Cadet Command has surpassed its fiscal yer 2011 commissioning mission, a month ahead of the Army-mandated deadline, officials have announced.

The command reached its goal Thursday with the commissioning of Cadet No. 5,350 and, through Wednesday, had welcomed 5,370 new lieutenants to the officer corps, according to figures. With a little less than a month left in the fiscal year, officials with Cadet Command said they expect the final tally to be close to 5,400.

This marks the first time since 2009 Cadet Command has made its commission mission. However, 2010 was considered a success -- the 4,994 new second lieutenants were the most students commissioned by Senior ROTC programs nationwide since 1990.

Col. Paul Webber, who heads the division that tracks commissioning numbers, attributed the success to a variety of factors. Among them: adequate cadre and scholarship resourcing via the Army and economic conditions gravitating men and women toward stable employment such as the military.

But perhaps most significant, he said, is a propensity to serve.

"American youth know what they're signing up for," said Webber, highlighting the fact that the nation remains at war. "They feel they want to be part of defending their nation and becoming troops. American youth have really stood up."

In addition to making its overall mission, Cadet Command, for the first time since a target was instituted in 1998, eclipsed its mission of commissioning nurses for the Army. The command had sworn in 254 as of Wednesday, ahead of the 230 targeted.

Cadet Command produces more officers for the Army than any other commissioning source. In fact, it commissions more officers annually than the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Officer Candidate School and direct commissionings combined.

Because it takes years to produce an officer through schooling at the collegiate level and other training courses, as opposed to the months it takes to develop an enlisted Soldier, Cadet Command remains positioned to meet its Fiscal 2012 mission, said Gary Tatro, an operations research analyst.

As the Department of Defense scrutinizes spending and scales back financially, that ultimately will impact the number of scholarships Cadet Command can award annually, Webber said. Among Fiscal 2011 commissionees, 72 percent, or 3,887 cadets, received some form of scholarship assistance.

What the fiscal belt-tightening will do is make students become more competitive for the educational dollars available.

"And we'll get even better quality," Webber said.