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High unemployment means high military recruitment

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Economic hard times are a driving force in what the Department of Defense is calling the best recruitment year since 1973.

"We're pleased to report that for the first time since the advent of the all-volunteer force, all of the military components, active and reserve, met their number as well as their quality goals.… [T]hat's the first time that's been achieved for every component since the start of the all-volunteer force in 1973," said Bill Carr, head of personnel for the Department of Defense. In his October report on 2009 recruitment, he attributed part of the success to high unemployment rates in the US, in addition to increased spending on recruits and better military salaries.

ACROSS THE SERVICES, THE MILITARY MET all its goals and, after years of lowering standards during the peak of fighting in Iraq, this past year attracted one of the most educated groups to the military in nearly a decade.

All the services modestly exceeded their recruiting goals, with the Army having the most success, making 108 percent of its target. In sum, the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force brought in nearly 169,000 new recruits, while the National Guard and Reserve forces brought in about 138,000.

There is some question as to the significance of the military's record-level recruiting year. Some have pointed out that the services exceeded their goals only after lowering them, so in actuality fewer people joined the military this year than last.

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