ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is planning a new public relations blitz and considering an increase to the age cap for recruits as top leaders acknowledge recruiting efforts are stumbling.

Those plans came as Army Secretary Francis Harvey told reporters that recruiters likely will not meet their quotas for new volunteers into active-duty Army over the next two months.

“It’s March, I’m not giving up,” Army Secretary Francis Harvey told reporters Wednesday. But he added, “There is a forecast that we will not meet the monthly goal” for March and April.

This comes in the wake of the Army missing its active-duty recruiting goals last month by about 25 percent.

The Army Guard and Reserve also are struggling to keep enough troops in uniform. The Reserve is 10 percent behind in recruiting quotas this year and the Guard is now 25 percent behind in recruiting efforts, according to Pentagon figures.

“I am concerned about the Guard,” said Harvey. “I am cautiously optimistic about the Reserve and active component.”

In addition to increases in the recruiting force and new bonuses for recruits, Harvey said he’s planning to launch a public relations campaign to sell the idea of national service to parents and teachers — who Army studies say are increasingly becoming roadblocks to recruiting efforts.

“We’re going to appeal to patriotism and the value of service, and we’re going to do that in a very proactive way,” said Harvey.

While the new PR campaign likely will include a new advertising effort, Harvey said he plans to task his top brass — as well as recruiting congressional leaders, army associations and other supporters — to take the message to the American heartland.

To give Guard and Reserve recruiters a bigger pool to fish from, the Army announced last week it’s bumping up the maximum age for recruits by five years, to 39 years old.

Pentagon officials now are considering a request to Congress for an increase to the active-duty forces’ cap as well.

If the Pentagon presses for upping the age cap for active-duty recruits to 39, it will widen the recruiting pool by 22.6 million, according to the latest census.

Pentagon officials will “carefully and continuously monitor the results of this [Guard and Reserve change] to determine applicability to the active force,” said Defense Department spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke.

The results of a new Army program that has allowed people with advanced language skills to join the Army Reserve at up to 41-years-old, “suggests that older recruits can meet the physical demands of military service and generally make excellent soldiers with maturity and a wealth of skill and experience.”

Meanwhile, she said, officials are leaving the door open for further expansion of maximum age for the Guard and Reserve.

Harvey said the Army would not consider lifting the ban of homosexuals serving openly in the military. “It’s a long standing policy and I don’t see any need to change it.”

Harvey also closed the door to any consideration of reinstating the draft.

“The D-word is the farthest thing from my thoughts,” said Harvey, laughing at the notion. “The all-volunteer force has proven its value. ... I don’t see any need to do it.”

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