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By Mar Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 4) – Guam ranks No. 1 when it comes to military recruitment and retention, beating 13 other common recruitment grounds in the United States, according to a National Guard Bureau Director Readiness Strength Overview report released last month.

The Director Readiness Strength Overview report confirmed an earlier statement made by the think tank National Priorities Project, which identified Guam, along with American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as the "Army recruiter’s paradise."

National Priorities Project’s August report described the three territories as most convenient hunting grounds to put people in uniform because these territories have limited economic opportunities.

But Lt. John Guerrero, a recruitment officer for the Guam National Guard, attributed Guam’s recruitment standing to patriotism.

Of the 13 common recruiting areas evaluated by Director Readiness Strength Overview for their performance, Guam garnered the highest point at 75, followed by South Dakota which gained 67.5 points.

The full report, however, was not available at press time. The Director Readiness Strength Overview online is accessible only to subscribers.

Guerrero said the performance evaluation was based on the number of recruits, and the number of soldiers who are retained on service after the six-year term.

"We scored high in our ability to retain soldiers after six years. Guam is a patriotic island and that’s the biggest factor that contributes to our level of recruitment and retention" Guerrero said.

"Guamanians take a lot of pride in serving not only the U.S. but their own island and that goes with the fact that the National Guard also has its own state mission," Guerrero said.

Besides patriotism, Guerrero said, other factors that s per Guam residents’ interest in enlistment include educational benefits, financial incentives, career opportunities, and progression and military benefits such as access to the commissary and BX/PX.

National Priorities Project’s August report said that with a combined population of about 315,000, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa recruited 333 new soldiers into the Army and Army Reserve in 2006.

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