Salt Lake-area recruiters say hostilities in the Persian Gulf may be linked to an increase in recruiting activity during the past several weeks.
But they are quick to point out that they're not taking everybody who walks through the door. A number of factors plays into whether new recruits will participate in Operation Desert Storm."We do have some joining for pure patriotic reasons - more than usual," said Marine Corps Sgt. Corky Chambers. The day the air strikes began against Iraq, "We had three or four phone calls from kids who had talked to recruiters in the past who said: `I want to go right now. What have I got to do?' "
Such feelings of urgency are put on a slower track as the potential recruit is screened for qualifications, which include a high school diploma in most cases, and familiarized with the Marine Corps' boot camp schedule. "Any kid we put in today would not see any kind of action for a year, unless he went to boot camp next month. And if he enlists now he would probably go to boot camp in April or May," Chambers said.
"People don't enlist to go to the Middle East. They enlist for a school or an occupational specialty," said Army spokesman Bill Morris at the recruiting headquarters at Fort Douglas. "And not everybody who has expressed an interest has qualified for enlistment."
About 60 people asked to join the Utah Army National Guard's 700-member 1457th Engineer Battalion as soon as word hit the street that the group had been called to active duty. Half of those were enlisted in the battalion and shipped out with the group to Fort Lewis, Wash., Jan. 28.
Of those who got left behind, some were not enlisted because they failed to meet entrance requirements while others weren't taken simply because there wasn't enough time to take care of the paperwork before the battalion left, said Utah Army National Guard recruiter Capt. Ted Frandsen.
Those quick-to-go entrants in the National Guard had served with the Guard previously, which helped ease their processing even though prior service records have actually kept others out of the military.
Some former Reserve component members are kept from returning if their age and the time of their previous service would make it impossible for them to accumulate a total of 20 years service by age 60. Others are kept out because restrictive "re-enlistment codes" indicating problems or undesirable traits the soldier exhibited during prior military service.