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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Recruiting for the US military
US marine in Iraq
Crossing Continents
Thursday, 24 August, 1102 BST
Monday, 28 August, 2030 BST
On Radio 4 and online

As the "war on terror" drags on, the US Army is finding it difficult to recruit enough soldiers to fill its ranks.

This is putting extra pressure on recruiting sergeants and there are allegations that some are breaking the rules to meet monthly goals for bringing new soldiers in.

Robert Hodierne, a veteran US military reporter, has gained access to a recruiting centre in Kokomo, Indiana, to get a unique insight into how recruiters do their jobs.

Kokomo has a population of just 46,000. But four former pupils of its high school have lost their lives while fighting with the US military.

Much bigger cities such as Boston, have lost the same number.

Against this backdrop, Robert followed one recruiting sergeant as he looks for "Rambos".

Grey area

The month of August is designated "Summer Thunder" by the recruiters.

It is a peak recruiting time for the army - when they get in touch with young people who are turning 18 and about to start their final year of school.

Robert heard about the "grey area" recruiters operate in as they seek to meet their targets.

And he heard allegations of rule breaking where recruiters help young recruits who would normally be disqualified because of their medical history or criminal record.

He also talked to young people thinking of enlisting.

The programme also travelled to a military base in Fort Knox to see the new recruits being put through their training.

The US army has already been relaxing standards to fulfil its quota of new people.

And with potential rule breaking by recruiters as well, many fear the army is being weakened just at the time when it is being stretched by ongoing conflicts.

Producer: Paul O'Keeffe
Presenter: Robert Hodierne
Web Producer: Nathalie Knowles
Editor: Maria Balinska

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