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Writer Details New Efforts to Fill Army’s Ranks

Former soldier Brian Mockenhaupt wrote in the Atlantic Monthly about the Army's struggle to fill its ranks with a generation less willing and able to serve than in years past. He speaks about how the Army has adapted with new recruiting and training practices.

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    The United States is now fighting two wars with an all-volunteer military force, and some troops are on their third tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. To ease the burden, the Army and Marine Corps will be expanding over the next five years.

    An article in the latest Atlantic Magazine looks at how the Army is recruiting and training new soldiers. The author is freelance journalist Brian Mockenhaupt. He also served in the Army as an enlisted man from 2002 to 2005, including two tours in Iraq.

    Welcome to you.

  • BRIAN MOCKENHAUPT, Journalist:

    Thank you. Nice to be here.


    Early in your article, you quote a top Army general who testified to Congress that, quote, "The confluences of challenges in recruiting, training and retaining soldiers is unparalleled in the history of the volunteer force." Explain the dilemma for us.


    Well, with the wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, they're back to fighting insurgencies as they were in Vietnam. It's a new way of fighting for a lot of people who have been in the Army, having to go back to these old tactics and relearning them.

    So they've had to make a lot of changes in the way that they're training soldiers, reacting to IEDs, convoy operations, that sort of thing. At the same time, the people that are the base of the populations that they're recruiting from has changed a lot in recent years, too. And you have these societal changes that new recruits are fatter, they're weaker, and in a lot of ways they're less willing to serve. So they're…