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?
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.