WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army (search) will miss its recruiting goals this year but will be able to sustain troop levels in Iraq over the next four years, a high-ranking general told FOX News.
Lt. Gen. James Lovelace (search), the Army deputy chief of staff, said the Army can sustain 100,000 in Iraq for the next four years if needed without "breaking the force" but he said it would include three or four rotations for some troops.
"We're gonna fall short of our recruiting goal this year. We know that,” Lovelace told FOX News. “We're putting in place mitigation plans to begin to address it in ’06."
The general did say the Army has surpassed its re-enlistment projections so far for fiscal year 2005. The Army's active duty re-enlistment rate is 107 percent of projected estimates, with 58,480 soldiers re-enlisting between Oct. 1, 2004 and July 31, 2005. The Army was hoping to re-enlist 54,510 soldiers during that time. Lovelace said the Army National Guard and Reserve re-enlistment rates are also exceeding 100 percent of projections.
Military officials will not go into specifics about the numbers of new recruits signing up for Army duty.
The general called Army recruiting a national responsibility but he also said that his biggest concern was maintaining the support of the American people.
“It's important to those young men and women and when they come back they need to feel the warm embrace of the American public,” Lovelace said. “They need to know the American public has supported them, that what they have done is that they have made a difference and that the sacrifices that they've made are recognized by this country.”
The disclosure about recruiting problems comes two months after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers (search) announced that after four consecutive months of declining enlistment, the Army more than met its recruitment goals for the month of June.
The Army National Guard, which has been a key part of the the U.S. force in Iraq, missed its recruiting goal for at least the ninth straight month in June and is nearly 19,000 soldiers below its authorized strength, military officials said last month.
In total, the Army Guard has about 331,000 soldiers, 94.5 percent of its authorized strength of 350,000, officials said.