Recruiting Woes

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Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is standing by his brother, the president’s decision to go to war with Iraq, and urging Floridians to do the same.

The governor’s words come on the heels of poll results showing 53 percent of Americans now believe the war was a mistake.

The dwindling support and high numbers of female casualties may also be behind lagging recruitment efforts for the U.S. Army, but Florida appears to be bucking the trend.

College senior Lindsey Bisland waits tables now, but she plans to join the Army after college to see the world and specialize in Middle East intelligence. Although she hears the reports of the growing number of female casualties in Iraq, it hasn’t changed her mind.

Lindsey says, "It does concern me, of course. I have concerns, but it doesn’t concern me enough to deter me from wanting to go."

More than five times as many women have died in combat in Iraq now as in the entire Vietnam War. Women account for about 40 of the more than 1,730 U.S. casualties. The growing death toll is thought to be a big part of slipping American support for the war.

Recruitment has been a big problem for the Army since the war began. Nationwide, recruiters have been off their monthly targets by as much as 43 percent, but officials with the Florida National Guard say they’ve been able to hit 97 percent of their recruitment targets in the Sunshine State.

Gov. Jeb Bush is proud of Floridians’ contribution to the war effort, and he supports his brother’s push to stay the course.

Gov. Jeb Bush, (R) Florida, says, “Better to fight the terrorists in far off places than fight them here, and the security that comes from having a democratic Iraq in the region is extraordinary, and I think history will show that.”

In the short-term though, the debate will likely grow in Florida and across the country the longer the war continues. President George Bush is planning a televised address from Fort Bragg, North Carolina Tuesday night to drum up support for the war in Iraq. Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the handing over of power to the new Iraqi government.