WASHINGTON — Army recruiters reached their goal for the third straight month but are still on pace to miss their yearly goal by several thousand soldiers.

The Army brought in 5,455 active-duty recruits in August, about 200 more than its goal for the month, as all four services reached their targets. The Navy, Marines and Air Force all will be able to meet their annual goals by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, if they maintain their current rates.

But the Army missed its recruiting target for four straight months in the spring, and has totaled 64,663 new soldiers in the last 11 months.

The year-end goal for the active-duty Army is 80,000. The service’s best month for recruiting this year was the 8,085 soldiers they signed up in July.

The Army National Guard, which has reached its recruitment target only once in the last 20 months, and the Army Reserve both fell short of their recruitment goals for the month, with 82 percent and 91 percent of their respective targets.

Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Pam Hart said the lagging reserve and guard numbers are a direct result of high retention among active-duty servicemembers, which cuts down the available pool of recruits for those posts.

Defense officials said retention numbers among the four services remain ahead of goals for the year.

Anthony Cordesman, a defense expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Army’s recruiting problems earlier in the year might be less significant in the short term when compared to those high retention figures.

“Retention is great deal more important when you’re in a war because you need skilled personnel,” he said. “And retention tends to be good in war, because people want to finish their mission.”

But long-term, Cordesman said, a smaller pool of recruits could lead to fewer troops and pull down the retention numbers, too.

And how the military presence in Iraq progresses will influence both groups, with a drawn-out deployment potentially causing “serious problems” for the Army in the future, he said.

Army officials have said they might use the delayed-entry pool — recruits who have signed up but agreed to wait up to a year to enter the service — to reach that year-end mark, but that could create recruiting problems for next fiscal year as well.

Naval Reserve numbers for August were not available because of computer systems failures due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.

For the year, the Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve are on pace to reach their recruiting goals, but the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, the Army Reserve and the Naval Reserve all have attracted 85 percent of their goals or less.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now