The Army has missed its recruiting goals for four straight months--hardly surprising since a) alternative jobs have gotten more plentiful b) the downside of Army service--not just danger but separation from family--has gotten worse and c) compensation hasn't significantly changed. The drop in recruits isn't a crisis. It's a normal market reaction. And the military's response, like a private employer's, should be to beef up compensation and, if possible, widen the pool of qualified potential employees. Today's WaPost article on the subject suggests that the Army wants to do just that:
Projecting even bigger problems next year, the Army is preparing to ask Congress to approve higher incentives and legal changes to broaden the pool of candidates. The Army has leveraged incentives "right to the legislative limits in every category," Rochelle said. Proposals under consideration in the Pentagon include doubling the maximum enlistment bonus to $40,000 for troops in high-demand jobs such as intelligence, infantry, special operations and civil affairs, as well as linguists, Rochelle said.
Another proposal would raise the age limit for active-duty Army recruits from 35 to 40. The Army raised that limit for its reserve elements in March, but increasing it for the active-duty force requires congressional approval. Rochelle said the change would bring in soldiers with greater experience and maturity, while making little difference in terms of physical abilities -- saying that today's 40-year-olds are in better physical shape than they were when the law was written.
Sounds good to me. Unfortunately, too many supposed doves are salivating for a draft, which makes neither economic nor strategic sense. The only way they'll get one is to make volunteer service as unattractive as possible.