Mon Jul 9, 2007 4:10PM EDT
By Kristin Roberts
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, strained by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, missed its recruiting goal for the second straight month in June, indicating a trend that some defense officials on Monday called worrying.
The Army will announce the monthly data on Tuesday. Army spokesmen would not discuss the specific figures.
But some defense officials said the Army significantly missed its June goal of 8,400 recruits. One official placed the shortfall at about 15 percent, a major gap for a typically strong month when recruiters normally find more willing young people fresh from high school graduation.
"We are fighting a war on two fronts," one Pentagon official said. "Parental support has declined. That's a big factor."
Another defense official called the numbers "concerning."
The Army had boasted strong recruiting numbers despite ongoing wars and rising casualty rates. But Pentagon polling data months ago started to show support for recruitment easing among parents and other people the military calls "influencers."
In May, the active-duty Army missed its recruiting goal for the first time this year. It signed up 5,101 new recruits, short of its goal of 5,500 for that month.
Still, Army spokesmen then said the Army was confident it would meet its fiscal 2007 goal of 80,000 new soldiers.
The Army is still exceeding its goals for the year, despite June's miss, defense officials said.
But if recruiting figures continue to decline at current rates, the gains notched earlier this year could disappear by next month, leaving the largest branch of the U.S. military at risk of missing its annual goals.