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ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Army made its recruiting goal for active and Reserve soldiers for this past year, and now is concentrating on its new goal of 80,000 new active troops and 22,175 Reservists, said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commanding general of the Recruiting Command.

The command surpassed its fiscal 2004 goal and added 77,587 active soldiers to its rosters; even with the country at war and a shift in mission mid-stream, Rochelle said on Friday.

The command started the year with a goal of 72,500 active-duty recruits, a goal increased in March to 77,500 to account for a law passed by Congress to boost Army end-strength by 30,000 troops over the next five years, he said.

The Reserve Component surpassed its fiscal 2004 goal of 21,200 by 78 soldiers.

The picture isn’t so rosy for the U.S. National Guard, which is failing to reach its goal of 56,000 by 10,000.

Rochelle denied reports the command had to relax standards in order to reach its recruiting goal for the coming year, refuting The New York Times article Friday that for fiscal 2005, at least 90 percent of new recruits should be high school graduates, down from 92 percent last year. Further, a maximum of 2 percent of recruits can enlist even if they scored in the lowest acceptable range on a service aptitude test, compared with 1.5 percent last year.

“The article is misleading,” Rochelle said. The recruiting command has maintained the 90 percent(of new recruits should be high school grads)and 2 percent (maximum of recruits who can enlist even if they scored in lowest acceptable range on service aptitude goal) for the past five years, and that the higher figures were interim goals set by the Army Accessions Command.

That “intermediate headquarters” involvement has ceased, he said.

Regardless of which command is setting the goals, however, Rochelle said he foresees no problem this year in maintaining the higher of the two standards.

The Army is going into the new year with a diminished pool of recruits from the delayed-entry program from which to pull to fill new ranks. About 18.4 percent of the 80,000 goal will come from that program, fewer than the anticipated goal of 25 percent.

“But that’s not at all a big problem,” Rochelle said.

Last year, the Army enjoyed “a very robust” pool of 45.9 percent of new recruits added from the program, nearly half of its goal. But the need to fill slots because of the increased recruiting mission total “placed a strain on the size of the debt pool,” and shrunk it.

To help overcome challenges, the Army has boosted its recruitment advertising budget by $12 million. This has added 1,000 new recruiters to go out and get what Rochelle, some other experts have labeled today’s youth as the “millennia generation.” These aren’t in it for themselves, but “very much in tune with volunteerism.”

Primarily, the Army is looking for combat arms specialists, linguists, intelligence specialists and medical professionals, from doctors and nurses to combat medics.

The biggest challenge for the coming year, Rochelle said, is competing against a strong economy and the challenges of attracting recruits away from colleges and university. About 1 in 4 recruits “comes to us with some college credit.”

The Army is trying to appeal to them and partnering with colleges and universities with a program that lets them go to college first for up to 30 months before heading to the Army.

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