For the first time in more than 35 years, the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals, as hundreds of thousands of young people have enlisted despite the near-certainty that they will go to war.
The Pentagon, which made the announcement Tuesday, said the economic downturn and rising joblessness, as well as bonuses and other factors, had led more qualified youths to enlist, Washington Post reports.
The Pentagon's personnel chief said the military has completed its best recruiting year since 1973, meeting all its goals and bringing in a better educated group of young people.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps met goals for active duty and reserve recruiting during the budget year ended Sept. 30 — the first time that has happened since the all-volunteer force was established, said Defense Department head of personnel Bill Carr.
The military spends about $10,000 per recruit, taking into account advertising, recruiter time and office leases for recruiting stations, he said. Recruits are in the 90th percentile of earners for their education and time in the workplace, Carr said.
He said studies show that those born between 1978 and 1996 "are more inclined toward service to society. That's a good thing, because that means we start off stronger with a given group of young people," The Associated Press reports.
Military services have been stretched thin by conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, giving added weight to recruitment efforts as President Barack Obama considers sending another 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.
The United States already has 67,000 troops in Afghanistan and about 119,000 in Iraq.
Pentagon officials said recruitment gains were fueled by the deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression and an unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, Reuters informs.