Airplane Disasters
The United States Army dramatically missed its recruitment goals in 2005, falling short by over 7,000 recruits. This marks the first time that has happened since 1998, and is a cause for alarm in the Pentagon.
The cause of the recruiting slump is generally attributed to the mounting body count in Iraq and the lack of progress there in quelling the widespread insurgency that has been ongoing since the U.S. invasion in 2003. In order to support the U.S.’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has also been forced to extend soldiers’ tours of duties beyond the periods they enlisted for, a policy known as “stop loss”. Thousands of soldiers are forced to remain in the Army up to 18 months beyond their discharge date. The Pentagon has also instated a policy of rotating Army Reserve and National Guard divisions into active combat.
Almost 2200 American service members have been killed in Iraq since March 2003, when the war began. Over 16,000 have been wounded. Approximately half of those deaths were caused by homemade bombs.
During 2005, there were an average of 28 attacks on American forces per day. This is slightly higher than in 2004, when there were an average of 22 attacks per day. However, the annual death toll has held steady in 2005.
Though it is difficult to track the total number of Iraqi casualties, current estimates place the toll at 30,000 killed since 2003.

Heading into battle for the first time.

These policies have lead to a great deal of acrimony among many of those troops affected, and a general feeling of mistrust for many potential recruits.
Faced with these historic shortages, the Army has taken a number of steps to relax its standards for new recruits, in order to enlarge the applicant pool. First, the maximum enlistment age for the Army Reserve and NationalGuard was raised from 34 to 39.

Then, at the local recruitment level, educational prerequisites were quietly relaxed. Previously, a high school diploma or GED was required if the applicant wasn’t currently a junior or senior in high school. If currently in high school, an 18 year old applicant was eligible.

Now, home schooled applicants and those who never graduated from high school are also considered.
Earlier in 2005, the Pentagon requested Congress to change current federal laws that set themaximum enlistment age of active duty personal at 34 (this law didn’t apply to reservists or the National Guard). The 2006 Defense Authorization Bill, which governs defense spending for 2006, granted this request, allowing all branches of the armed services to set their maximum recruitment age as high as 42.
It remains to be seen whether relaxing its requirements will generate enough new recruits to stop the Army’s losses.


View Footage