Monday, April 23, 2007

Perspective: Army looking for a few good chaplains

American troops in Iraq haven't always had the equipment they've needed. Might many have to go to war now without the spiritual support they've traditionally had?

The US Army is working hard to keep that from happening, but it confronts a severe shortage in its Chaplain Corps, particularly among the Army Reserve and Army National Guard. As the Pentagon announced last Friday that Guard brigades would soon be recalled early for another tour of duty, the chaplain shortfall in the National Guard stood at 40 percent.

A five-year plan to boost chaplain recruitment in the Army is making headway. "It's getting better, but it's definitely bad," says Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ran Dolinger, spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains Office. "Not long ago we were 581 chaplains short, and now we're 452." Currently, the Army has some 2,600 chaplains.

The Army says it's committed to not deploying any unit without a chaplain, and so far they've managed to send one with each battalion of 600 to 700 soldiers.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor