ARLINGTON, Va. — Like the Army Reserve, the Marine Corps missed a key recruiting goal for the second consecutive month in February — a concrete indication of the effect the war on terror is having on the all-volunteer force.

Marine recruiters were asked to deliver 2,964 new contracts in February, but were able to produce only 2,772, or 93.5 percent of the goal, according to Maj. David Griesmer, a spokesman for the Corps’ Recruiting Command at Quantico, Va.

January’s contracting target was 3,270 recruits, but only 3,186 new Marines signed up, or 97 percent of the requirement.

The shortfalls mark the first time in 10 years the Corps has had problems getting enough youths to sign contracts pledging to serve within the next year, Griesmer said Thursday.

“Recruiting is harder this year,” Griesmer said, citing the improved economy, the lure of college, and “concern of parents for their young adults.”

Parents “see that the military’s an active place right now, and they urge caution,” Griesmer said. “That’s having an effect of slowing things down.”

However, even with the two-month shortfall, Marine recruiters have met over 99 percent of their year-to-date contracting goal, signing 15,107 of the planned-for 15,232 recruits between Oct. 1 and Feb. 28, Griesmer said.

The Marines have set a goal of 38,195 contracts for fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, Griesmer said.

Marine recruiters are also continuing to meet their “accessions,” or “shipping” goal, which is the number of recruits who are actually sent to basic training each month, Griesmer said.

Griesmer said that the Corps recruiters consider their shipping achievements to be “the important, most accurate indicator of the recruiting effort.”

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