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WASHINGTON — The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that Army officials can use recruits in the delayed-entry pool to reach their yearly recruiting goal if recruiting shortfalls continue.

In May, Army recruiters missed their goal for new soldiers for the fourth straight month. For the fiscal year so far, the Army is short more than 8,300 recruits, nearly 17 percent its goal.

“The Army has enough capacity in delayed entry programs to fill in this year if needed,” Marine Gen. Peter Pace said. “The real problem then is that the pool for next year doesn’t get replenished.”

But the active Army began fiscal 2005 with far fewer recruits in the Delayed Entry Program because it pulled from the pool to reach its fiscal 2004 goals.

Army recruiters prefer to begin a fiscal year with at least 25 percent of their recruitment goal banked.

But as of Oct. 1, 2004, when the government’s fiscal 2005 began, the Army had just 18 percent of its 2005 goal total in the program, he said.

Pace said that the Army has a “great leadership approach” in dealing with the current shortfall, and noted that re-enlistments are at “historic numbers.”

On Friday, the Defense Department announced that 45,333 soldiers have re-enlisted since last October, 103 percent of the goal for this point in the fiscal year.

Pace said the Army has added about 3,000 recruiters to help reach that force level, and noted the re-enlistment numbers show the value of entering the service.

“[Current soldiers] understand the tremendous positive impact they’re getting from service,” he said. “And we need to encourage young people to serve in this time of need.”

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