Where Are the New Recruits?

Critical to the war effort in Iraq, the National Guard and Army Reserve are drawing fewer enlistees. Will the troop shortage worsen?

Even as the Iraq war has dragged on, offering no foreseeable end, top Pentagon officials have maintained that the nation's Army is fit enough and big enough to fight it. But last week the military's taut tendons--at the breaking point for better than a year--could be heard painfully snapping from the Pentagon to the Sunni triangle. First came a warning from the head of the Army Reserve that those troops are "rapidly degenerating into a broken force." Then Army officials, speaking privately, conceded that a long-standing policy limiting deployments of National Guard and Army Reserve forces is likely to be scrapped....

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