Recruiter: Draft Wouldn't Help Army Quality

A military draft would not improve the quality of soldier over the current all-volunteer force, the head of Army recruiting said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle (search), commanding general of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox (search), said volunteer soldiers want to be a part of the military, making them "as wonderful a soldier as one can imagine."

"I think what we have today far surpasses a draft," he told a Rotary Club audience.

Rochelle, 54, oversees 7,000 Army recruiters worldwide and has a $250 million advertising budget with a goal of bringing in 80,000 new soldiers this year. It's a daunting task, he said.

A good economy and a falling unemployment rate mean fewer people are looking for jobs. "Recruiting is a challenge in the best of times," he said. "We're competing with industry."

Nevertheless, the Army expects to meet its recruiting goals for 2005, he said, noting the targeted recruiting age range -- those between 17 and 24 -- are "joiners" willing to serve.

"They're civic minded," Rochelle said. "They recognize the threat very well that Sept. 11 poses."

Gen. Richard Myers (search), chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday he expects recruiting in 2005 to be "very challenging" for both active duty soldiers and reserves, particularly the Army Reserve.

"We are increasing the numbers of recruiters and restructuring enlistment bonuses to help mitigate these challenges," Myers told the congressional committee.

The Army is also partnering with business or municipal agencies by providing an opportunity for soldiers whose enlistments are completed to have "priority interviews" with companies taking part in the program, Rochelle said.