Army Meets Its Retention Goal

Staff Sgt. Michael Obleton has already done two tours in Iraq, dodging roadside bombs as he drove trucks in Army convoys across the hostile countryside.

He may even return to the front again - a possibility that never occurred to him when he first joined the active Army in 1997, long before the 2003 Iraq invasion and the onset of what has become an increasingly unpopular war.

Obleton knows about the Bush administration's often-touted long war on terror, and he's seen the Iraq insurgency up close. But he's determined to continue the fight. So on Thursday he will stand by the flagpole at Kentucky's Fort Campbell, raise his right hand, and swear once again to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies."

As he recites his oath of service, administered by the Army's No. 2 ranking officer, Gen. Richard Cody, Obleton will become the 64,200th Army soldier to re-enlist this year - allowing the Army to meet its retention goal a full month before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

"The Army is a good career, there are a lot of benefits," he said this week from his post at Fort Campbell. "This is something I signed up for. It's a job. (The war) doesn't worry me."

Both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve expect to meet their re-enlistment goals for this fiscal year, which are 34,875 and 17,712, respectively. Both totals are slightly higher than last year's goals.

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