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NEWS | Aug. 7, 2006

Blum: Army Guard enjoying big recruiting successes

By American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - The Army National Guard is experiencing its biggest and longest-running recruiting success since the end of the draft, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told Pentagon reporters in mid-July.

The Army Guard has met or exceeded its recruiting goals for the past nine months, LTG H Steven Blum said. The force also increased its end strength each month for the past nine months, to its current 350,000, he said.

Defense officials announced earlier this week that the Army National Guard has recruited almost 51,500 soldiers since Oct. 1, about 1,500 above its year-to-date goal. During June alone, the Guard recruited more than 5,800 soldiers, 1 percent above its goal for the month.

"Our recruiting continues to be extraordinarily effective," Blum said today. "We have just concluded the ninth consecutive best recruiting month in the history of the National Guard since the end of the draft. So in the last 35 years, we have never seen nine consecutive recruiting months or a net gain to the extent that we are enjoying right now."

Blum called this phenomenon a testament to the country's youth and their belief in the mission, particularly when Guardsmen are being called to duty and deploying at an "unprecedented rate."

"Everyone who joins the Army or Air National Guard knows that they will deploy; (it's) just a matter of when," he said. "And yet that has not shown any reluctance on their part to join our ranks.

"The young men and women of this nation are responding to the challenge and to the missions that the Guard's being called upon (to carry out)," he said.

Blum noted that those who enlist "are staying with us in unprecedented numbers." During June, retention in the Army National Guard was 122 percent of the cumulative goal of more than 25,000 re-enlistments, defense officials announced earlier this week.

"(This) speaks volumes about the magnificent young men and women of this nation and how well that people support the National Guard," Blum said.