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During the August 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, guest host Suzanne Malveaux reported: "The Pentagon says for the first time in two months the U.S. Army expects to meet its recruiting goals. Initial tallies show the Army with 9,000 new recruits for July." Malveaux did not report, however, that a change in Pentagon policy may have assisted the Pentagon in meeting these numbers. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reported on the July 30 edition of The Situation Room that "the Army has been having trouble signing up new recruits. So, it has got a new idea: a $20,000 bonus if you sign up and you agree to ship out for training within 30 days." A U.S. Army statement dated August 2 said:
The new bonus was one of the initiatives highlighted by Army and Defense Department leaders who testified before the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee yesterday about recruiting and retention efforts in the Army. The Army missed its active-duty recruiting goals in June for the second month in a row, but leaders said they are confident the service will make year-end recruiting goals.
An August 4 Chicago Tribune article reported that the Army had begun giving $20,000 "Q.S. bonuses," short for "quick-ship," 10 days earlier. The Tribune added that in March, the Army first offered "$15,000 bonuses for soldiers who agreed to a quick training and deployment schedule," but "as the future of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan becomes more uncertain and conditions for soldiers fighting those battles grow more trying, the Army has had to raise the offer."
Media Matters for America has documented examples of media hyping previous Pentagon statements that recruiting goals were met or exceeded without noting changes in Pentagon policies that helped achieve such results (here and here).
From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the August 7 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
MALVEAUX: The Pentagon says for the first time in two months, the U.S. Army expects to meet its recruiting goals. Initial tallies show the Army with 9,000 new recruits for July. Official numbers will come on Friday.
From the 7 p.m. ET hour of the July 30 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER (host): The U.S. Army is stretched thin and facing new recruiting problems, but it may have come up with a solution. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara.
STARR: Wolf, the Army's been having trouble signing up new recruits. So, it's got a new idea: a $20,000 bonus if you sign up and you agree to ship out for training within 30 days. It applies not to just new recruits, but soldiers who may have gotten out of the Army and want to come back in.
The Army's been trying this out at some recruiting stations in Ohio. It's worked so well that within the next few days, they're going to announce that the program has gone nationwide. And being the military, they have a name for it all. That $20,000 bonus, it's called the "quick shipper" bonus. Thirty days to training, and then most likely on to Iraq or Afghanistan -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr, reporting for us from the Pentagon. Thank you, Barbara.