HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pentagon defends quality of U.S. military recruits

WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday defended the quality of recruits entering the military even as the Army accepted older enlistees and more with past criminal problems, no high school diplomas and lower aptitude marks.

"I don't think they're lesser-quality recruits," David Chu, U.S. under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told a Pentagon briefing.

The active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all made their recruiting goals in fiscal 2006, which ended Sept. 30, in a year when the ongoing Iraq war helped make recruiting for the ground forces especially difficult.

Four of the six reserve components of the military -- the Army Reserve, the Army National Guard, the Navy Reserve and the Air National Guard -- missed their 2006 goals. The Army Reserve and National Guard, which have sent tens of thousands of their part-time soldiers into the 3-1/2-year-old Iraq war, also missed their goals last year.

This year, the Army Reserve missed its goal by 5 percentage points and the Army National Guard by 1 percentage point.

There have been 2,745 U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war, the Pentagon said.

The active-duty Army exceeded its 2006 goal of 80,000 recruits by 635 after missing by almost 7,000 its 2005 target, which also was 80,000. The Army improved its fortunes by using more recruiters and offering richer enlistment bonuses, but also took steps some experts believe could undermine the quality of the force.

About 13,600 regular Army recruits -- 17 percent -- were accepted with waivers for past criminal conduct, drug or alcohol abuse or medical issues such as obesity. That compares to 11,018 such waivers last year, and 7,640 in 2001.

The Army said most recruits given "moral character" waivers had committed misdemeanors. It said it does not grant waivers for violent sex crimes or drug dealing.


Only 81 percent of new Army recruits had a high school diploma, lagging a goal of 90 percent, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, Army Recruiting Command chief. Last year, 87 percent of recruits had a high school diploma.

The Army accepted 2,650 recruits who scored in the lowest permissible category -- from the 10th to 30th percentile -- in a standardized aptitude test. The Army last year doubled the percentage of recruits it is willing to accept from this category.

The Army also increased the maximum age of enlistment by seven years, up to one's 42nd birthday, this year and accepted about 650 recruits between ages 35 and 41.

"There are clear indications that they're lowering standards of recruitment," said retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich, a military expert at Boston University.

By accepting more recruits who previously might have been rejected, the military is creating more of a risk of wartime misconduct by U.S. troops, said defense analyst Charles Pena of the Independent Institute think tank.

"We can't afford any more Abu Ghraibs," Pena said, referring to the prisoner abuse scandal.

Military officials brushed off these concerns. "I'm not at all concerned about the quality of this Army," Bostick said.
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org