To meet its human capital needs, the Department of Defense (DOD) must convince several hundred thousand people to join the military each year while, at the same time, retain thousands of personnel to sustain its active duty, reserve, and National Guard forces. Since September 11, 2001, DOD has launched three major military operations requiring significant military personnel--Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The high pace of military operations combined with the level of casualties in Iraq and other factors, such as lengthy overseas deployments, have raised concerns about DOD's ability to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of personnel who possess the skills and experience needed. This testimony presents GAO's preliminary findings on (1) the extent to which the active duty, reserve, and Guard components have met their overall recruiting and retention goals, (2) the degree to which the components have met their recruiting and retention goals for selected hard-to-fill critical occupations, and (3) steps the components have taken to enhance their recruiting and retention efforts. This testimony focuses on enlisted personnel. In continuing its work, GAO will assess the reliability of DOD-provided data and plans to issue a report on these issues this fall.
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