Things have gotten so bad for recruiters of the Colorado Army National Guard that they are offering bounties of $200 to members who get a friend to enlist.
The problem is twofold, said Lt. Col. Michael Stowell, who heads recruiting and retention for the Colorado Guard. First, experienced soldiers who were sent to Iraq have been quitting after they return. Second, would-be recruits are scared off by the prospect of spending a year in a war zone. "What we're telling people is the likelihood of being deployed if you enlist is pretty high,â€? Stowell said. "It's not so much of a what if, but a when.â€?
Things aren't looking any brighter locally for the national army. Recruiters in Colorado and Wyoming haven't met half of their goal in the past month. Things aren't quite so bad for the other branches of the military.
Throughout the West, Air Force, Navy and Marine recruiters are reporting success. But Army recruiters, despite offering bonuses of up to $20,000 and piles of college money, face an uphill battle.
Here's why, according to one expert:
The Guard and Army Reserve weren't designed for rotational duty as peacekeepers, said John Pike, executive director of the defense think tank GlobalSecurity.org. "They were designed to fight World War III,â€? he said. "They're not going to be able to get people to join the damn thing if they get to go to Iraq as a result.â€?