December Recruiting Numbers Exceed Goals

Last month's recruiting figures for all military services exceeded goals, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during testimony today before the House Armed Services Committee.

"I'm pleased to report that all active branches of the United States military exceeded their recruiting goals for the month of December," Gates said, "with particularly strong showings by the Army and the Marine Corps."

In December, the Army recruited 861 soldiers, exceeding its goal by 23 percent, according to information released by the Defense Department. The Marine Corps recruited 1,761, exceeding its goal by 10 percent, and the Navy and Air Force met their recruitment goals of 2,071 and 2,330, respectively.

Additionally, the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve exceeded their recruiting goals in December.

Gates' comments come a day after President Bush announced his plan to increase the Army's and Marine Corps' overall strength.

"We propose to (increase) in annual increments of 7,000 troops a year for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps until the Marine Corps reaches a level of 202,000, and the Army would be at 547,000," Gates said at a news conference this morning.

"We should recognize that while it may take some time for these new troops to become available for deployment," Gates said, "it is important that our men and women in uniform know that additional manpower and resources are on the way."

Gates then reflected on those who volunteer to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

"Our nation is truly blessed that so many talented and patriotic young people have stepped forward to defend our nation and that so many servicemen and women have chosen to continue to serve," he said at the news conference.

Gates' remarks today about the value of recruits echo President Bush's comments during his speech yesterday outlining the new way forward in Iraq.

"In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us," Bush said. "These young Americans understand that...the advance of freedom is the calling of our time."

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