Politics

Lowering the Bar?

Opposition to the Iraq War, military counterrecruitment, and the barrage of horrible media images coming from the Middle East are making a huge impact on Army recruitment. As the Associated Press tells us, Army recruitment is at a record low, the lowest it has ever been since the draft was done away with:

The Army began its recruiting year Oct. 1 with fewer signed up for basic training than in any year since it became an all-volunteer service in 1973, a top general said Wednesday.
Gen. William S. Wallace, whose duties as commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command include management of recruiting, told reporters at the Pentagon that the historic dip will make it harder to achieve the full-year recruiting goal — after just barely reaching it in the year ended Sept. 30.
Achieving the Army’s recruiting goals — a challenge in the best of times — is not only more difficult now but also of more consequence. That is because the Army has decided that it must grow its active-duty force by several thousand soldiers a year in order to relieve strain on war-weary troops.
Wallace said he expects to reach the goal of 80,000 recruits, with extra effort by his recruiters. “It’s going to be another tough recruiting year,” the four-star general said.
Making it even tougher is the decline in what the Army calls its delayed entry pool, which is the group of enlistees who have signed contracts to join the Army but want to wait before shipping off to basic training. Normally the Army tries to start its recruiting year with a delayed entry pool equal to about 25 percent of its full-year goal, which in this case would equate to 20,000 recruits.
Instead, the Army began with 7,392 recruits, or about 9 percent of its full-year goal.
Last year at this time the Army was beginning its recruiting year with 12,062, or about 15 percent.

Great! Less kids are going to die! Less kids are going off to war, so this must be a good thing, right?
Not necessarily.
Like I wrote back in February 2006 (back when I used to write in MySpace-compliant style, complete with SMS English), when the military is strapped for recruitment numbers, they begin to either lower their standards, or try to target different people. The Army went specifically for the poorest people to achieve last year’s standards (one reason they were offering a “‘quick ship’ bonus of $20,000 to recruits willing to leave for basic training by the end of September), and ended up with more than a few criminals, more than a few Nazis, more than a few gangsters. Last year, convicted felons also helped the Army achieve its recruitment goal, with 1,620 felons receiving “moral waivers”, a 60 percent increase over the previous year.
In total, 22,186 waivers — 18.5 percent of all recruits — were granted in 2007. More than half of them for “moral character” issues — the majority of which were for misdemeanor offenses. Another 38.9 percent were medical waivers, with the remaining 6.7 percent for drug and alcohol problems.
And even with their targeting the most underprivileged Americans, they’re still having record low recruitment. One doesn’t even have to have citizenship to serve and die for this country. “Illegal immigrants” were also spoken of as potential targets for recruitment.
How much lower will standards go? Will all-American “soldier boys” have to be serving alongside the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer or a serial rapist just so the DoD can get its numbers up?
With the war being outsourced to murderers, and with corruption scandals erupting all the time, the last thing I think the troops and this country needs is an analysis of how we can lower standards, and a new batch of recruits culled from the lowest pits of Supermax prisons and mental institutions are not going to be the best representatives of America on the world stage.

24 thoughts on “Lowering the Bar?

  1. The best way to raise the standards of the army recruits would be for large numbers of American Jews, who owe this country for providing the most Jew-friendly culture in the world (excluding only Israel of course), to volunteer for service. It’s the least we can do.

  2. While I’d hate to see criminals signing up and endangering the lives of their comrades, I do think some time in the armed forces might help straighten some of them out in the long run.
    It’s not like everyone who goes to jail is an irredeemable hopeless case — especially not when we’re primarily talking about misdemeanor offenders.

  3. I have an idea to boost Army recruitment! Stop fighting unpopular, unnecessary wars!!!!! Oh yeah, and maybe give these guys decent freakin pay for the amount and character of the work they’re doing. Or how about making veterans’ health care better.
    If things continue on the current path, there will be a draft. Course then, there might be some actual effective protest against the war. Maybe people will move outside the “free speech zones”.

  4. More than half of them for “moral character” issues — the majority of which were for misdemeanor offenses.
    I mean, I mean, I’m just sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin’ here on the Group W bench, ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses, and villages after bein’ a litterbug.

  5. BZ- I was totally going to reference Alice’s restaurant! Sad that you got there first…
    At any rate, I’d like to say two things:
    1) Jews DO volunteer for the army, at a rate approximately commensurate with our percentage of the population. They just aren’t usually particularly affiliated or observant Jews (but some are).
    2) Goyisher yid is absolutely correct. Many people go into the army to escape their bad situations, and those in bad situations are much more likely to be CAUGHT doing drugs, stealing etc (although not necessarily more likely to do it). I think that the army is correct to allow some of these people to serve, on a case-by-case basis. After all, if you did something boneheaded at 23, doesn’t mean that you should always suffer for the rest of your life.

  6. “join the army, burn women, kids, houses, and villages” Yea, guess that’s what the army does, in between saving us from slavery, nazis, and mad mullahs. Pathetic.

  7. incorrect, google that line, and it might make more sense. and pathetic? it’s been known to happen, even if it isn’t pretty.
    BZ– awesome 🙂

  8. Rebecca, of course it’s been known to happen, it happens in every war out there – but is it intended, is it purposeful, or is the horrible byproduct of war? Do you look at the army and see a bunch of brave men and women with more guts than the rest of us doing a necessary but difficult job, or do you pick on the aberrational situation to criticize them – and what does it say about the critic who mocks the army, maybe mocking saves having to look at ones own values.
    As to my joining the army, how do you know that I’m not in it now? Or that I’m too young? Or too old? Or physically incapable? The original post raised the issue of whether the army is moral enough – if you think the general Jewish sense of values are higher than the general army set of values, then let’s encourage Jews to join the armed services. Don’t we as Jews owe this country enough that we should be joining the armed services,
    not staying at home and mocking them.

  9. I see both, and I prefer to see one maximized, and the other minimized.
    I’m not certain you’ve gotten the joke yet, though. [hint: BZ’s comment was the joke]

  10. I dont know any of those things, Incorrect — that’s why I asked. I think you, with your higher Jewish values, should join our army and defend us.

  11. Regarding Arlo Guthrie, who wrote Alice’s Restaurant (and the son of the folksinger Woody Guthrie, who wrote This Land Is Your Land….), Woody married a Jewish woman, who had her son Arlo bar mitvahed by a well known Rabbi — Meir Kahane!

  12. “a well known Rabbi – Meir Kahana” (ùí øùòéí éø÷á), and now we know where your sympathies lie, incorrect. I think you should stay away from Iraq, because you will no doubt be trigger-happy more than you should be.
    And the issur is “ìà úøöç”. Pretty straightforward, huh?

  13. well, “tirtzach”refers to a pretty particular crime originally, one not considered possible during war time, except maybe, deep inside a soldier’s hardening heart.

  14. Amit, sometimes your lack of understanding amazes me, but I’ll put it to langauge difficulties: most would have interpreted my description of MK as “well known” as either irony or a specific attempt to stay away from any political stance – can’t you occasionally chill and just live life without turning everything into a political issue: in fact I think MK was an extremest who has done us a lot of harm, but politics was not the point of the post. I look forward to your mea culpa.

  15. “ìà úøöç” means “Do not murder”. If anything, going to to the army in Iraq means saving thousands of innocent Iraqis from being murdered.

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