WASHINGTON — While neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night keeps the postman away, bad weather apparently kept Marine Corps recruiters from their appointments and routes, said a Marine general Thursday.

The Corps has missed recruiting goals two months running. “It’s easy to say it’s the war in Iraq, but I’m not so sure,” Lt. Gen. Jan. C. Huly, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, told a gathering of defense writers.

A harsh winter kept potential recruits indoors, and thus recruiters from signing them up.

The beginning of the calendar year is the hardest time to lure students who are just beginning to think about life beyond high school, Huly said.

But the Corps made a mistake in letting Marines eligible to become recruiters deploy to combat zones instead of the streets of America, said Huly, who has served as the deputy commanding general for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

“We didn’t have as many recruiters on the streets as we wanted.”

The Corps missed its February goal by 192 recruits, and January’s goal by 84; the first time goals were missed in 10 years. “Let’s just keep in context just how big this alleged iceberg is out there.”

The service is adding recruiters over the next two years.

Additionally, the Corps is tasked with boosting its end-strength by 3,000 this fiscal year for a total of 178,000 Marines.

Recruiters will not only be looking for the basic infantryman, but for Marines with an aptitude for languages, Huly said.

The Army also missed its February recruiting goals.

Army leaders have said that the failure is linked in part to public concern over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fueled by the near-daily reminders of American casualties.

To date, 1,664 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 10,000 have been wounded.

“People are watching the news,” Doug Smith, a spokesman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky., said last week. “They know the risks of military service in today’s environment.”

And the Pentagon’s top spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said in early March that with a nation at war, parents are using their influence over their children to steer decisions away from military service.

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