That spit-and-polish soldier in uniform behind the desk at the Army recruiting office may soon be a thing of the past. To save more of its manpower for important duties closer to the battlefield, the Army in May will begin deploying civilians rather than uniformed soldiers in some of its recruiting stations around the country. Responding to congressional direction, the service will pay two Virginia companies $172 million to staff about 65 of its 1,700 recruiting stations over the next five years with civilians (mostly former noncommissioned officers). Some critics wonder whether youngsters thinking about enlisting will be as impressed by a civilian in shirtsleeves as by a soldier in uniform. "There's no doubt that military personnel should get out of running certain things, like housing," says Lawrence Korb, who served as the Pentagon's top personnel official during the Reagan Administration. "But recruiting--where young people want to talk to a real soldier--doesn't seem like a good place to get out of." If the new recruiters manage to boost enlistments, however, look for the program to be expanded.