Like many, and even though I try to follow miliatry affairs closely, I have also been duped by recent reporting on the military’s "recruitment crisis."  I happened on a piece by military historian Victor Davis Hanson which puts the current situation into perspective.  Not only are were not in a crisis right now, but historically the situation is neither unique nor alarming.  In the 4 July 2005 issue of National Review he writes:

We might ask how accurate is the current picture of military disarray.

First, the Marines have suffered disproportionate fatalities in the war in Iraq. They are about 30 percent of all combat deaths, yet make up only 11 percent of current American forces. But in May the Marines slightly exceeded their recruitment goal. The Air Force and Navy likewise met 100 percent of their requirements. The Army traditionally has had the hardest time meeting its targets, given the reputation — warranted or not — that the other branches offer more specialized training and skills that will better enhance civilian careers without the same level of risk as ground combat.

Second, the year is only half over. The Army may well rebound and meet its full 2005 quota, as nearly all branches of the active services (the Army and Air National Guard were exceptions) did in 2004. Much depends on whether the economy continues to improve and thus competes for high-school graduates, and whether the Iraqi military can take over its envisioned preponderant military role, keeping the insurgency out of the daily headlines. (more…)

Source: Victor Davis Hanson, "Are they in the Army now?" National Review (4 July 2005).