Last week, the press and even the military itself, was expressing grave concerns over the lowering of standards used to reach military recruitment goals. Here's an article from The Marine Corps Times:
"They’re meeting their numbers in the short term, but doing it in a way that doesn’t bode well for the future,” said Peter Singer, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, an independent research and policy institute.
“They’re lowering their requirements and taking in a greater number of people who would not have made the cut previously,” such as CAT IVs, Singer said.
CAT IVs are potential enlistees who have earned the lowest scores on the aptitude test.
“Studies show that CAT IVs don’t make as good a soldier,” said Singer. They have a harder time shooting straight and succeeding at complicated tasks, he said.
“These are the folks who tend to get into more trouble, as well,” he said. “Pvt. Steven Green is the best example.”
Green, along with four other soldiers, is in federal prison for allegedly raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing three of her family members. He was a high school dropout with behavioral problems and run-ins with law enforcement before he enlisted in the Army.
“This is a kid who would’ve washed out in the past under the old standards. That raises some concerns.”
Singer said “the wash out” rate for basic training in 2005 was 18.1 percent. In 2006, it dropped to 7.6 percent. That means roughly 10 percent of people who would have washed out before are now in the military, he said.
“The Army also doubled the numbers of non-high school graduates it took this year,” he said.
And the military isn’t just lowering standards, he said.
“They’re dumping an enormous amount of resources and manpower into recruiting. They’re making a greater effort, lowering standards and they’re still just eking it out.”
Marshall, the local Marine Corps recruiting station commander, said his branch is as exclusive as it’s always been.
“We haven’t lowered our ASVAB standards or increased our age limit to foster numbers like the Army has,” he said, as eager teens ran through obstacle course stations around him. “We don’t sell technical skills or college funds — we sell the opportunity to be a Marine.”
However, he did admit concern about the overall quality of the military.
“The lowering of standards is going to lead to a long-term problem in terms of leadership and understanding the mission,” he said. “If you got someone who scored a 21 on the ASVAB, how can he understand our technical manuals or the mission from the commander? We don’t write it in fifth-grade English.”
Eugene White, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served for 24 years, including two tours as a platoon leader in Vietnam, said he was concerned with the number of medical and criminal waivers being issued for enlistees.
“When you talk about people who are obese or have criminal records from my perspective as a platoon leader, they require a higher degree of care and maintenance,” said White, who now works as a military analyst for a private corporation.
He’s less concerned about soldiers who don’t have a high school diploma.
“I’ve met a lot of soldiers with GEDs who are better trained than high school grads,” he said.