And the trend seems to be accelerating. The Army
exceeded its targets each month for October, November and December — the first
quarter of the new fiscal year — bringing in 21,443 new soldiers on active duty
and in the reserves. December figures were released last week.
Another lure is the new G. I. Bill, which will significantly expand
education benefits. Beginning this August, service members who spend at least
three years on active duty can attend any public college at government expense
or apply the payment toward tuition at a private university. No data exist yet,
but there has traditionally been a strong link between increased education
benefits and new enlistments.
The Army and Marine Corps have also added more recruiters to offices around
the country in the past few years, increased bonuses and capitalized on an
expensive marketing campaign.
As a rule, when unemployment rates climb so do military enlistments. In
November, the Army recruited 5,605 active-duty soldiers, 6 percent more than its
target, and the Army Reserve signed up 3,270 soldiers, 16 percent more than its
goal. December, when the jobless rate reached 7.2 percent, saw similar increases