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Army halts recruiting for a day

Focus on ethics after allegations of questionable recruiting practices

Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle discusses the recruitment suspension at a Pentagon briefing Friday.
U.S. Army

(CNN) -- Friday hasn't been business as usual for the nation's more than 7,500 Army recruiters, who are suspending operations for one day in the wake of allegations of misconduct.

Instead, recruiters are concentrating on ethics and rules governing recruitment.

The purpose is to refocus recruiters on their mission, reinforce the Army's core values and ensure its procedures are carried out consistently, an Army spokesman said last week.

The unusual move -- called a "stand down" -- comes after reports of possible misconduct by recruiters.

"The reason for the pause was sufficient to sacrifice the progress that we would make in one single day of recruiting ... to refocus the entire force on exactly who we are as an institution and the fact that we must represent that insitution both in word, deed, and even our very thought," Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle said Friday during a Pentagon press conference.

Among the allegations of misconduct was that a Texas recruiter allegedly threatened a young man with arrest if he didn't sign up.

Also, recruiters in the Denver, Colorado, area helped a student get a fake diploma and pass a drug test. The student, David McSwane, 17, posed as a high school dropout with a drug problem for an article for his school newspaper.

The review of procedures comes at a tough time for the Army, with the war in Iraq making recruiting increasingly difficult. The Army missed its monthly recruiting goals for February, March and April.

"We ... have very, very low propensity to enlist, both on part of our young Americans and likewise on the part of influencers, ... parents, coaches, other adults whose opinions matter to our young 17-to-24 year olds," Rochelle said Friday.

The military branch has vowed to enlist 80,000 troops this year, but it's more than 15 percent behind its year-to-date goal.

Rochelle, admitted that the misconduct allegations didn't help the service.

"The actions of a few have reflected very, very badly on many of us, myself included. We are all injured by that," Rochelle said this week on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight."

He attributed recruitment difficulties to low unemployment and parents' discouraging their children from enlisting.

"We are engaged in war," Rochelle said. "And right now no one wants to see their sons or daughters placed in harm's way. No person should want that.

"But the reality is that we have to defend our freedoms. And someone has to do it."

One student, Andree Sajous, a 19-year-old freshman at City College of New York, said her mother would never let her join the military.

"Her main concern is you can get killed," Sajous said.

With wary parents in mind, the Army rolled out new television ads this spring addressing the issue. It's also offering sign-up bonuses of up to $20,000 and has added nearly 1,500 recruiters since last year.

CNN's Kelly Wallace and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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