DOD meeting recruiting goals, but

May 12, the Department of Defense announced that “all services met or exceeded recruiting goals for the month of April and have surpassed goals for fiscal year 2008 to date.”

I’ve got to wonder if they are acheiving these goals at the price of a decline in quality. For instance, 13 percent of the Army’s new recruits (or more than 10,000) received so-called “moral waivers” in 2008, according to the US.A Today. This was up from the previous years stats as reported in July 2007 by the Boston Globe and marks a rate double of that in 2004. In another trend, the percentage of high school graduates among Army recruits was 79% last year, compared with 91% in 2001. And even that number is posibly distorted, if the Army is using the Two Tier Attrition Screen (TTAS) reported in “Army Signs More Dropouts” by Tom Philpott on November 22, 2006 at Military.com.

the Army announced last month that 81 percent of its non-prior service recruits for 2006 were high school graduates. That was disturbingly below the 90 percent Department of Defense standard for every service. But the proportion of high school graduates would have been reported as 74.3 percent if the Army had to count the 5900 TTAS enlistees high school dropouts. The number instead is ignored.

Philpott added that preliminary findings presented in report for the Army Research Institute by researchers Mark C. Young and Leonard A. White show that:

Non-high school graduates… are “relatively inexpensive to recruit and some…do make very good soldiers.” They project that TTAS could save the Army $100 million a year by lowering recruiting costs an average of $10,000 per recruit for up to 10,000 recruits a year.

For more critique of military statistics, see the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information.

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