The media is all aflutter today with reports — as headlined in the NY Times — that “all active-duty and reserve forces meeting or exceeding their recruitment goals for the first time since 2004, the year that violence in Iraq intensified drastically….”

This is the perfect mainstream media story because it perpetuates two myths: That only the poor and uneducated join the military and that violence in Iraq caused reenlistment problems. This story, however, is a gross exaggeration at best, a lie at worst, premised on the hope that no one would check.

A simple web search reveals that in fiscal year 2007 (October 2006-December 2007), when the economy was strong and the surge in Iraq was under way, all military branches met or exceeded their recruiting goals and the reserves fell only slightly short:

The Department of Defense has announced its recruiting statistics by the active and reserve components for Fiscal Year 2007…. All of the active duty branches met or exceeded their recruiting goals for the fiscal year. On the Reserve side, four of the six reserve components met or exceeded their recruiting goals.

The increase in recruiting activity went back at least to 2006:

Last month’s recruiting figures for all military services exceeded goals, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during testimony today [January 2007] before the House Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased to report that all active branches of the United States military exceeded their recruiting goals for the month of December,” Gates said, “with particularly strong showings by the Army and the Marine Corps.”

The recruiting activity picked up dramatically during 2007 into October 2007, when the stock market and economy were at their peak:

The first month of fiscal 2008 was a success for all active and reserve military components.

In a meeting with Pentagon reporters today, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said all components met or exceeded their recruiting goals for October.

On the active-duty side, the Army made 101 percent of its goal of 4,500, with 4,564 recruits. The Navy made 100 percent of its goal of 2,788 recruits. The Marine Corps made 102 percent of its goal of 2,720, with 2,788 enlisting. The Air Force made 100 percent of its goal of 2,656.

The Guard and reserve components “did very well” in October, Whitman said. The Air National Guard made 134 percent of its goal of 609 accessions, actually signing up 818 airmen. The Army National Guard also had a very good month, signing up 123
percent of its goal of 4,311 soldiers. The Army Guard signed up 5,305 men and women.

The Navy Reserve made 112 percent of its goal of 818, signing up 918 sailors, and the Army Reserve made 104 percent of goal, signing up 3,297 against 3,169. The Marine Corps Reserve and Air Force Reserve both made 100 percent of their goals of 890 and 681, respectively.

The lie, in 2007, that the military was not meeting or exceeding its goals, was exposed by NewsBusters on November 13, 2007. That lie continues to this day because it is so perfect to attack the outgoing Bush administration on its last day in office.