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[] PI 23.04.03: Iraq War Coverage Spurs Interest In Enlistment,

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 23, 2003

Iraq War Coverage Spurs Interest In Enlistment

By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer

The media's coverage of the war in Iraq produced powerful images of 
America's military successes - and some great recruiting commercials.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The quick victory - and unforgettable pictures of the troops and Iraqis 
toppling a statue of Saddam Hussein - are helping recruiters fill the ranks 
with more qualified soldiers.

Across the country, recruiting stations are getting more visits and more 
phone calls, and the services' Web sites are receiving more hits.

The military's conduct of the war "was one of the reasons I decided to 
join," Randi Barnett, an 18-year-old Levittown resident and former 
Neshaminy High School student, said yesterday during a visit to an Army 
recruiting station in Levittown.

"I want to help out... . I'm also looking it as a career."

Army Capt. Tony Barnett, commander of the North Philadelphia Recruiting 
Company and no relation to the recruit, said he anticipated more traffic. 
His company oversees recruiting in parts of the city and suburbs.

"I think more people are interested because of our success, because of the 
positive impression they got from the embedded reporters and the fact that 
we had so few casualties," he said.

Maj. Dave Griesmer, a spokesman for Marine Corps recruiting at Quantico, 
Va., also has seen a "groundswell" and "lots of anecdotal evidence that 
world events lead to more interest."

That interest in the military has created a recruiter's market, allowing 
the services to pick the best-qualified candidates from a larger pool. 
Recruiters generally target men and women ages 18 to 25 (35 is the upper 
limit) who pass aptitude tests and have no criminal record.

"The bottom line is that we are bringing in the right number of qualified 
men and women for service," said Lt. Bill Davis, a spokesman for the 
national Navy Recruiting Command in Millington, Tenn. "We have been able to 
raise the bar for quality."

Griesmer and other military officials said each branch had limits on the 
number of troops it could recruit.

The Marine Corps can recruit 38,914 this fiscal year, which will end Sept. 
30, and it has signed up more than half that number.

"There's only a certain number of applicants we need," Griesmer said. "When 
people come in and find out it's a commitment, that's when you find out if 
these are momentary feelings of patriotism."

In the first quarter of fiscal 2003, the military services met 99 percent 
of the recruiting goals, the Pentagon said.

All of the services except the Army National Guard and Army Reserve 
achieved or exceeded targeted numbers. The Army Reserve signed up 98 
percent of its goal (short 182 soldiers) and the Guard 86 percent (short 

The services reached their goals the last two fiscal years and are expected 
to meet them again this year.

Davis said the Navy did not have to recruit as many sailors primarily 
because it was retaining more of them. It lowered its recruiting goal from 
48,000 for this fiscal year to 41,772.

"Some people stay because of the economy and unemployment," Davis said. 
"The Navy doesn't seem so bad. Some stay to serve their country and be part 
of something bigger than themselves. And others stay because of the 
education opportunities, training and benefits."

The Army has been running ahead of recruiting goals each month this year, 
said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command in Fort 
Knox, Ky. It wanted to recruit 33,960 by the end of March and enlisted 34,222.

Many of the new faces in the military are young women. Barnett, the Army 
recruiter, said he believed that the rescue of Army POW Jessica Lynch had 
caused more women to focus on the possibility of a military life.

"We have seen female applicants who were very much interested in being part 
of the Army," he said.

Army First Sgt. Anthony Isaac, a recruiter in Barnett's command who works 
in Levittown, said his station was "seeing more women."

"Women want to be equal and not rely on others to do things for them," he said.

While media coverage of the war has boosted interest in joining up, 
"there's a flip side to the reporting on the war," said Davis, the Navy 
spokesman. "We hear from some of the recruiting stations that there is a 
concern from parents about their children going into the military.

"This is what we do, and some moms and dads are not sure if they want their 
sons and daughters doing it. But that does not play a significant role in 

Griesmer, the Marine spokesman, said the war coverage "may work both ways, 
but we succeed because we have a good product."

"The possibility of death raises the cost for some people - and that may be 
too much, but others want to be part of this. They want to be part of the 
military and help people."

Some prospective recruits, such as William Joseph, 18, of Browns Mills in 
Burlington County, also see the service as a possible career.

"I don't know what I want to do," said Joseph, a Pemberton High School 
student who was applying at the Air Force recruiting office in Mount Holly. 
"But this is another job opportunity for the rest of my life."

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