WASHINGTON The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month and could eventually be more than a year ahead of schedule in its plan to grow the force to 202,000 members.
All military services met or exceeded their monthly recruiting goals in April, with the Marine Corps signing 142 percent of the number it was looking for, the Pentagon said.
The Army signed 101 percent of its goal, recruiting 5,681 against a goal of 5,650. The Navy and Air Force met their goals 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen.
The Marine Corps enlisted 2,233 recruits against a goal of 1,577.
"The Marine Corps, if they continue to achieve the kind of success they have had, could meet their growth figures more than a year early," Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters. That would mean by around the end of 2009.
Stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon last year recommended that the Army be increased by about 65,000 soldiers to a total of 547,000, and the Marines be increased by 27,000 to 202,000.
Recruiting is easier in a slow economy, which limits other job possibilities. But officials also noted that the Army and Marines have added recruiters as well as bonuses and other special benefits to attract more recruits in the midst of the unpopular war in Iraq.