Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Army Strong

An article in yesterday's Boston Globe announced some good news and a whole lot of potentially bad news when it comes to Army recruitment.

Two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced the "good news" that the Army had met its recruiting goal for October, the first month in a five-year plan to add 65,000 new soldiers to the ranks by 2012.

But Pentagon statistics show the Army met that goal by accepting a higher percentage of enlistees with criminal records, drug or alcohol problems, or health conditions that would have ordinarily disqualified them from service.

In each fiscal year since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, statisics show, the Army has accepted a growing percentage of recruits who do not meet its own minimum fitness standards. The October statistics show that at least 1 of every 5 recruits required a waiver to join the service, leading military analysts to conclude that the Army is lowering standards more than it has in decades.
[Emphasis in the original]

What is particularly interesting (and perhaps frightening) is the breakdown on the use of the required waivers:

...Of the 6,434 enlistees who signed up last month, 792, or 12.3 percent, required waivers for past criminal activity that would have disqualified them, including misdemeanor and felony convictions, according to Army data. ...

The share of new recruits granted waivers for medical reasons, such as failing Army physical fitness standards or for testing positive for marijuana or cocaine use, has also soared in the past five years.

The percentage of medical waivers more than doubled, from 4.1 percent in 2003 to 8.6 percent last month. Drug or alcohol abuse waivers increased by half, from 1 percent in 2003 to 1.5 percent last month.

The article notes that the failed drug tests occurred during the recruitment process, which means some of these recruits were using right up to the date they were sworn in, which certainly does not bode well for success in basic training.

I'm not suggesting that troubled kids shouldn't be given an opportunity to turn their lives around, but I don't think the US Army should be the rehab center of choice. I thought we learned that lesson back in the 1960's Viet Nam era.

Unfortunately, the Army finds itself between a rock and a hard place, thanks to the White House decision to run two wars at once and to run them badly. Not only is regular recruitment difficult, retention of already trained personnel is almost impossible. The Army is as close to being broken (if it isn't actually broken) than it ever has been.

Heckuva job, George.



Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:

12:33 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Excellent post! When my daughter enlisted in the Navy 10 years ago, her recruiter told me she was unusual compared to what he usually had apply; he had plenty of young men and women who wanted to sign up but most couldn't pass a drug test. Many had a problem with the ASVAB test which my daughter said was a piece of cake. My question was: What does this say about us as parents not to mention our educational system? He agreed. He was delighted when I called him after attending her graduation from basic and told him that she was in the honor company, second in her class academically, and a female instructor told me she wished she had more like her. My daughter went on to a successful 8 years in the Navy where she had seriously considered making it her career and left because "Bush is screwing everything up." I wonder how many others her have done the same.

Those words, I think, sums it up.
Some have told me that it isn't fair to blame Bush for everything wrong in his administration. I remind them that Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that said, "The buck stops here." and that's the bottom line.

10:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home