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National Guard Recruitment Up

April 6, 2007

POSSIBLE NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYMENT

The clock is ticking for thousands of men and women who serve in the National Guard.

The Pentagon may send another 13,000 National Guard troops to Iraq next year.

And as the war drags on, some military analysts say current soldiers stationed in the mid-east are being stretched thin.

"There's no way to sustain the current rate of deployments without calling up probably 9 National Guard brigades in the coming year for involuntary second tours," says General Barry McCaffrey.

The call up is expected to affect Guard Units from Oklahoma, Indiana, and Arkansas.

The combat deployments would be limited to one year.

NATIONAL GUARD RECRUITMENT UP

Even though more Guard troops could soon deploy to Iraq by next year, that's not hurting the Georgia Army National Guard's recruitment efforts.

In fact, more people are joining Georgia's National Guard than ever before.

Many young adults are eager to join.

"I just wanted to make a change," says Cedrick Felton.

Cedrick Felton is one of the many new recruits taking advantage of the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.

"To know that I'll be receiving it, it feels good," says Cedrick Felton.

For Felton, the program's incentives are just too good to pass up. Recruiters explain the appeal.

"It's a $1,000 bonus when the soldier enlists, and it's another $1,000 when that soldier ships off to basic training," says Staff Sgt. Brandon Bateman.

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bateman says the program has worked wonders for recruitment centers throughout the country and even here in Georgia.

"We've met our goals. Last month we recruited over 250 soldiers throughout the state of Georgia.  We expect to meet our goal of 10,400 soldiers by the end of the fiscal year," he says.

Even with a war that shows no signs of slowing, new recruits say enlisting is still worth it---even if it means possibly going overseas.

"I'll be ready for it," says Cedrick Felton.

And while those tasks may prove difficult for many new recruits, it's a challenge most welcome, especially when a reward is involved.

The National Guard bonus program was created in 2005 after recruiting goals were significantly down.

The program is credited with helping attract more people to volunteer to join Georgia's National Guard.