So far, Operation Desert Shield has not inspired the great rush of volunteers typical of those who signed up during many of the country's past conflicts, says the Army's top recruiter in this region.

"In terms of gigantic mission increases or those kinds of things going on, nothing significant has occurred," added Lt. Col. Richard L. Rutledge, who took command this summer of the Army recruiting battalion stationed at Fort Douglas."We've seen an increase in interest, certainly more phone calls and things like that. But we haven't seen large numbers of folks coming and saying, `Hey, I want to go to the desert.' "

Rutledge's command covers 410,000 square miles, the largest area of any in the lower 48 states. His responsibility covers Army recruiting in Utah, Montana, Idaho - except the panhandle, a bit of eastern Oregon and eastern Nevada and the western part of Wyoming.

Before taking over in Salt Lake City, Rutledge was a battalion commander for combat training at Fort Dix, N.J., "so I was on the receiving end of the recruiting command."

When he was given the new assignment, "I was given a choice of eight locations and a recruiting command to select, and I selected Salt Lake City . . . It was my first choice."

He was familiar with Utah, as he attended the University of Utah in 1979, earning his master's degree in human resource management. His wife, the former Sue Capps, attended the university also.

Today's potential recruits are not the type to make snap decisions, Rutledge says. Of those who do join, more than 60 percent are in the upper category of high school students. "The quality is just incredibly good . . . better than it's been in my 20-year career.

"About 95 percent of the Army is high school graduates now."

Those who have college degrees when they join enter at the rank of specialist, called E-4.

Rutledge says that enlistments offer a wide variety of choices, and terms can be for as short as two years and as long as six years. A college fund for enlistees starts at $10,000 as "the bottom line for anybody that's serving in the regular Army," under the modern GI Bill.

The high end of the college fund is in the range of $25,000.

"One of the other things that we have going that's pretty exciting is loan repayment," he said. For recruits who went to college and had any of four types of federally guaranteed loans, "the Army will pay back those loans."

The repayment will be up to $55,000. The loan will be paid off up to that amount within three years, with a third paid per year.

The recruiting slogan this year is "Stay in school, stay off drugs, do your best."

"That's not just for the benefit of the Army, but for the benefit of the nation," Rutledge said. The Army's influence on high school students can be important because recruiting sergeants interact with the schools and can be role models for students.