You're in the Army now
I guess we'll be going back to jailbirds and retards again. Project 100,000 returns
Its Recruitment Goals Pressing, the Army Will Ease Some Standards
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: October 1, 2004
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - To help meet its recruiting objectives at a time when its forces are strained by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army's recruiting command has lowered some goals for recruits.
The changes are among the clearest signs yet of the military’s growing problems in recruiting and retaining soldiers. They mean that many hundreds of prospective recruits who were likely to have been rejected last year could now be enlisted this year.
Army recruiting officials characterize the changes as modest and reasonable adjustments in goals, and well within quality standards mandated by the Pentagon and Congress. But they amount to the first relaxation in Army recruiting standards since 1998, when a strong economy hurt military recruiting.
Army officials said Thursday that for the recruiting year that started this week, at least 90 percent of new recruits should be high school graduates, compared with 92 percent last year. And up to 2 percent of recruits can be enlisted even if they scored in the lowest acceptable range on a service aptitude test, compared with 1.5 percent last year.
Given the total of 101,200 incoming soldiers whom the Army and the Army Reserve say they need this coming year, the changes mean that as many as 2,000 or so recruits who were likely to have previously been rejected could be enlisted.
"In difficult recruiting environments, it is inevitable that either quality standards or recruiting resources be subject to adjustment," said Richard I. Stark Jr., a retired Army colonel who is a military personnel specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here. "The Army has been forced to adjust to both."
In another sign of strains within the Army, more than 35 percent of nearly 3,900 former soldiers mobilized for yearlong assignments in a little-used wartime program have resisted their call-up, seeking delays or exemptions. Some of the former soldiers, members of the Individual Ready Reserve, may face criminal charges for failing to report, Army officials said.
At the same time, aides to two Colorado lawmakers, Representatives Diana DeGette, a Democrat, and Joel Hefley, a Republican, say their offices have received calls from several soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo., as well as Fort Riley, Kan., and Fort Lewis, Wash., complaining of pressure to re-enlist with the alternative being deployment to Iraq.
One sergeant at Fort Carson, who served nearly a year in Iraq with the Fourth Infantry Division's Third Brigade and whose enlistment is to end in February 2006, said Thursday that rather than re-enlist, he would risk the chance of being reassigned to a unit bound for Iraq.
"I can understand we're in a war, and extraordinary things happen in war, but the Army is moving the goal posts on me," the sergeant said in a telephone interview, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But Colonel Johnson said the Army was looking closely at each soldier's record and was not using the threat of Iraq deployment to increase re-enlistments. "We're not strong-arming anyone," he said.
This is the road to the draft.
As much as I think the military doesn't want one, this is a bad sign. The Army needs about 75K new enlistees a year, a number they usually get. The real issue is that they may not make their numbers even then. If the number of non-hs grads drops below 80 percent, then a draft may really be around the corner.
Yes, my opinion is evolving on this because of one simple fact, the pool of soldiers isn't growing while the demands for US troops is. 40 percent of the troops in Iraq are Guardsmen and reservists and once they get out, they aren't going back. The Guard and Reserve are having even more problems getting and retaining troops, especially Army vets which provide the backbone of Guard units. Once they don't enlist, you have a problem.
Something has to give and Bush's assurences on the draft are as credible as anything else he says.
Project 100,000 was the Vietnam-era program which drafted soldiers who would have failed normally, getting 4's and 5 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). Passing is a 3 or above. Project 100,000 was promised as a way to educate these men. Most wound up being minorities and shifted into the combat arms and transportation, the job for the dumbest soldiers. After all, most people can drive a truck. And of course, they wound up in Vietnam.
posted by Steve @ 1:20:00 PM