Recruiting Will Get Tougher:

All the heads of the military recruiting agencies expressed optimism about their service efforts to meet recruiting goals, however they also acknowledged that the likely resource pool is shrinking. During a Senate Armed Services panel hearing last week, Air Force Recruiting Service chief, Brig. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, said in her written testimony that the Air Force is “well on its way toward meeting its [annual] goal for the ninth straight year” and that the quality of recruits “remains significantly above” DOD benchmarks. However, in the air reserve components, she said that officer recruiting for the Air National Guard in 2008 is so far running “short.” And, although Air Force Reserve Command has met its goal so far, she said that both components face a challenging year because of BRAC 2005 and Total Force Initiatives. Vautrinot noted that officials believe the April timeframe, when “all transformation initiatives will be effective,” should prove a “positive turning point” for Air Guard recruiting. Complicating the picture for all the services is the fact, said panel chairman Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), that “only about three of 10 young Americans are qualified for military service.” The reasons vary from medical conditions to criminal records and lack of education. In Nelson’s view, “declining high school graduation rates and obesity are national issues that directly impact the national security of the United States.” Vautrinot noted, too, “An increasing number of communities and high schools are less likely to welcome recruiters.”