Recruiters rejoice — The Army has met its recruiting goal for this year

Army Recruiting Commercial: "Honor"

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

The end-strength goal for this year was 478,000 — Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said on Tuesday they'd be "well over that," coming in somewhere between 481,000-483,000. McConville also acknowledged that the Army's goal this year brought in fewer recruits than last year, though senior leaders stressed that they've been more focused on quality than quantity.

"Some have asked the question, 'Wait a minute so you're [68,000] this year, you were [70,000] last year, what's the big deal?'" McConville said. "Well ... we've signed a lot more contracts this year so as we start next year, we have more soldiers ready to go."

Senior leaders also said that the Army has seen an increase in recruiting both women and minorities; McConville said women are "excelling" in the military. Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of Army Recruiting Command, said on Tuesday that the number of women in the ranks increased from 17.1% to 18%, which he said hasn't been done since 2004.

"We are a diverse nation," McConville said. "And the right thing to do is have diversity, but quite frankly, you want to have diversity because you want to compete with the best people in America and you want quality … You get quality through diversity."

Muth told reporters that the Army is working to bring in more female recruiters, to will continue to work to be "representative of the United States."

One of the primary challenges the Army faces is the thriving U.S. economy, with a 3.7% unemployment rate. Historically, those kind of conditions pose a threat to military recruitment, but Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said on Tuesday that it "speaks volumes" that the service was able to exceed its retention goal anyway. (The goal was 50,000, and the Army hit 51,000.)

One of the Army's biggest initiatives to up its recruitment numbers was its focus on 22 cities that typically aren't in the Army wheelhouse, so to speak — cities like Seattle, Chicago, New York City, and more. Muth said he was most surprised by New York City, where recruiters hit "100% of the mission" every month.

The Army has also been trying to spread the word on economic opportunity, especially the ability to have college paid for in a time when overwhelming student debt is the norm. But McConville said that from what he sees, it's not just the money that draws recruits to the Army, but the "sense of being part of something bigger than themselves."

A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.

It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.

Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.

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No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.

Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.

"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.

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A projectile is fired during North Korea's missile tests in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 28, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.

The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.

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Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.

In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.

"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.

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Erik Prince arrives for the New York Young Republican Club Gala at The Yale Club of New York City in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

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