updated 5/2/2005 5:29:35 PM ET 2005-05-02T21:29:35

The Army missed its recruiting goal in April, marking the third consecutive monthly shortfall.

Col. Joseph Curtin, a spokesman for Army headquarters in the Pentagon, said Monday that as of April 30 the Army was on a course to achieve only 85 percent of its target for the full year.

But he said big gains are expected this summer, and the Army is cautiously optimistic it will overcome the current recruiting deficit and achieve its full-year target of 80,000 enlistees.

Opinion surveys have indicated that a growing number of young people and their parents are wary of the Army’s recruiting pitch at a time when soldiers in Iraq are killed and wounded virtually every day.

Spring is typically one of the more difficult periods of the year for military recruiters.

Curtin said he did not have specific figures for April but that it fell short of the monthly goal of 6,600. In March the Army had hoped to sign up 6,800 recruits but fell 32 percent short. That was slightly worse than in February when a goal of 7,050 was missed by 27 percent.

Prior to missing the February target the Army had not fallen short of a monthly goal since May 2000.

The Army National Guard and Army Reserve have had even more trouble recruiting. In March the Army Reserve signed up barely half the 1,600 soldiers it sought. It has not met a monthly goal since December 2004, and for the period from October 2004 through March it met only 82 percent of its goal.

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