The U.S. Defense Department has begun working with a private marketing company to compile a database about teenagers and college students - a move aimed at identifying potential recruits as the military faces dwindling enlistment.

Word of the database has generated strong criticism from privacy groups who say the Pentagon is circumventing laws that restrict the government's right to turn private information over to private industry.

Officials say the new database will be filled with the personal information of high school students ages 16 to 18, as well as all college students. They say information will include social security numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, grade point averages and ethnicity.

Some branches of the U.S. military are reported to be falling short of their enlistment goals - a problem many say is due to the ongoing violence in Iraq.