The Army National Guard reached its congressionally authorized end strength of 350,000 Citizen-Soldiers on March 30, six months earlier than originally projected, Army Guard officials have reported.
"The strength of the Guard has been the amazing levels of retention among members of deployed units, surpassing all expectations," said Lt. Col. Diana Craun, the Army Guard’s deputy chief for strength maintenance.
"Retention is highest among units that have returned from deployments, and retention is an essential element in end strength," she added.
It is the first time that the Army Guard has been at full strength since 1999, Craun said. Officials had projected that the Army Guard would reach 350,000 troops by Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year.
This pattern -- soldiers who have been in Iraq being eager to re-up -- is heartening. When I expressed worries a while back, I was told that re-enlistment rates are the best indicator of how well the military is handling the strains of extended deployment. I hope that's true.