To meet its fiscal 2004 recruiting goals, the Army has begun training recruits immediately instead of deferring their entry until fiscal 2005. This will reduce the normal cushion of recruits available on Oct. 1, 2004 – the beginning of the new fiscal year – which in turn will impact upon 2005 quotas. The deferments are being cancelled, says the Army, because it needs 4,500 more recruits to flesh out a temporary strength increase of 30,000 active-duty Soldiers. “The Army is stretched dangerously thin,” Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, told Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, in a hearing last week. “We are growing the Army as fast as we can,” said Schoomaker later in the hearing.