The recession has helped boost the US military to its best recruitment year since the post-Vietnam switch to an all-volunteer force. Recruiters hit or exceeded all their targets for the first time since 1973, surprising even Pentagon officials. In addition to rising unemployment, recruiting was helped by bonuses, a recruiting budget that averages $10,000 per new recruit, and the drop in violence in Iraq, according to military officials.
The quality of recruits also shot up over the last year with 95% of recruits now boasting at least a high school diploma. Military leaders say the numbers are grounds for optimism in light of the stresses being placed on troops by multiple combat tours. Experts warn, however, that the all-volunteer force may still end up stretched beyond its limits. "There is no way to tell at what point the Army will break in the sense of mass desertion, or people unwilling to stay in," one analyst told the Washington Post.