Not good enough

Only 27 percent of young people 17 to 24 years old meet the Army’s standards, says Gen. William Wallace, who heads recruiting.

The remaining 73 percent, he said, “are morally, intellectually or physically” unfit for service. “It’s the lowest it’s been in more than 10 years.”

The Army has exceeded its recruiting targets this year, so far, but the Army Reserves have fallen short.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The day of cannon fodder is, thankfully, past.

  2. It’s not at all surprising that the reserves are getting few recruits these days, since the only difference between regular and reserve service during a war is that reservists don’t have a career.

  3. wayne martin says:

    Some of this problem goes back to the Clinton-era downsizing of the military, which has put a extra burden on the National Guard Units to bolster overseas troop demands. Rumsfeld made a controversial decision early on—that the current size of the military was sufficient to fight a two-front war. Most Pentagon insiders did not agree, creating tension between the Pentagon and the Whitehouse. Winning a war is about bringing overwhelming force against your enemy. Conventional military technology only goes so far. Eventually, it takes “boots on the ground”.

    The issue of the Draft might re-emerge one of these days. In past wars, about two-thirds of those inducted was through the use of the Draft. While far too many upper./milddle class whites hid behind deferments (such as teaching deferments), enough men with college educations were drafted to provide the “intellectual metal” needed to make the military work. This was so clearly demonstrated during WWII, although only about 12% of those inducted had college degrees.

    The Main Stream Media’s becoming the PR-element of Al Qaeda isn’t helping anything either. They did the same thing during the Vietnam War, with disastrous results for the Vietnamese and Cambodian peoples after exit of the American military. People’s memories are very short .. probably too short to allow public opinion to be a gating factor in National Security issues.

  4. Well, which one is it? Does the Army meet it’s recruitment quota or not? Has the Army reduced the standards of the recruits it’s willing to accept or not?

    I’m slightly inclined to believe the Army figures. Not because the people who make up the Army are above spinning/lying but that they have some purpose for existence beyond enticing people to buy their subscriptions.

  5. Cardinal Fang says:

    Of the 73% who are unfit, it would be interesting to know how many are morally unfit, how many are physically unfit and how many are intellectually unfit. It would be even more interesting to know the criteria for these categorizations. Who counts as morally unfit- gays and felons?

    If there were a draft, the population of 18-year-old gays would skyrocket.

  6. wayne martin says:

    > The remaining 73 percent, he said, “are morally,
    > intellectually or physically” unfit for service.

    Again, the public schools can take a bow–

    Governor signs bills to trim obesity in schools
    Toughest diet rules in nation for students
    Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
    Friday, September 16, 2005

    (09-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, kicking off a statewide campaign to reduce obesity, signed landmark legislation Thursday that will raise nutritional standards for food sold at California schools and ban the sale of sodas on all campuses by 2009.
    California will have the toughest school food nutrition guidelines in the nation when the new laws take effect. The legislation, which Schwarzenegger signed over the objections of the California Chamber of Commerce and food manufacturers, drew praise from educators and physicians who see it as a way the state can make a significant difference in shaping the health of the state’s children.

    This story about military recruiting numbers vs standards isn’t new, as the following Slate article published in 2005 demonstrates:

    With roughly 2/3rds reading at below grade, meeting intellectual standards must be harder for this generation of kids.

    The San Francisco papers printed this last fall:

    U.S. is recruiting misfits for army
    Felons, racists, gang members fill in the ranks
    Nick Turse
    Sunday, October 1, 2006

    (The Army has always been a “resource” for the Justice System—“go in the Army for a hitch, or go to jail, it’s your choice”.)

    The Military does run its own PR channel, which issues a prolific number of press releases, pictures, TV and radio (on-line) broadcasting for a less slanted view of the Military news than one gets via (AP) or Reuters:

    Army Has No Plans to Drop Recruiting Standards:

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    In the face of adversity, the Army prevails. My comment about cannon fodder stands. I had the good fortune to have been well trained when i went to Korea, and I had the education of watching the untrained get killed regularly. The refusal of schools to allow recruiters on campus is criminal, and the liberal war against the military is insane.

  8. I believe that certain drugs, such as Ritalin, can disqualify a candidate. As more children are put on prescription medicines for psychological conditions, including but not limited to ADD and manic depression, the numbers of young men who are “unfit” would rise.

  9. The information here regarding a large segment of young people not meeting standards for a volunteer army comports with my experiences with individuals of the same age in their attempts to gain employment. As a recruiter for manufacturing companies I am asked from time to time to help with hourly employees. It’s a struggle to find young people who want to work, can pass a drug screen, and have some previous experience with tools.

    In January, Charles Murray wrote three articles on sucessive days in The Wall Street Journal. One of them concentrated on the problem we have created with public high schools that offer a curriculum geared to college entrance while ignoring the fact that only a limited number of kids are intelligent enough to handle what a college is meant to offer. For the rest of us it will be a world of work and we’re failing kids who would love a trade if only they could learn some skills. In my neighborhood are boys who don’t know what a “Philips” screw driver is. If they don’t get to be an investment banker like their dad….

    The best prepared young people entering the job market are the veterans from the armed services. They are disciplined, smart and skilled at work. They are my and my client’s first choice.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Not everyone can be a soldier. Basic tends to weed out the Dilberts and the dildos and the three squares and a flop guys. I would not want someone alongside me who did not want to be there. I had a few like that and they were just in the way. We refered to them as certain female acoutriments on a masculine animal, useless as.

  11. wayne martin says:

    Ritalin and the U.S. Military

    But does Ritalin use disqualify someone from serving? The short answer is “Yes.” Ritalin and other medications do disqualify an individual from military service. But not for the reasons you might think – and not necessarily forever.

    According to the Army Recruiting Office (1-800-USA-ARMY), ANY long term maintenance medication is a disqualifier from service. This policy applies to ALL long term medications, whether the medication in question is Ritalin for ADHD or an inhaler for Asthma simply because the person on the medication would be required to have meds on a regular basis.

    A person has to be “Ritalin-free” for one year before being considered eligible for military service. At that time, the recruiter may request medical records and/or letters from a physician regarding diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. This information is then forwarded to military medical personnel. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.

    According to the Recruiting Office, ADD or ADHD itself would not automatically disqualify a person from serving – provided the person is not currently taking medications and is able to perform in the military environment.

    This same policy applies to all four branches of the U.S. Military.

  12. Who counts as morally unfit- gays and felons?

    I think excessive consumer debt and admitting to having smoked a doobie counts. Seriously.

  13. BadaBing says:

    This does not only pertain to the military, folks. A guest speaker in my class last week told students about a young female that spent $10K for schooling to get a certificate and apply for a license for a job in the medical field only to be denied the license because she’d been busted for Mary Jane possession as a 12-year-old. But this is old news as far as the military is concerned. I held a top-secret crypto clearance in the USAF (Vietnam Era), but a classmate of mine in tech school at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX, got kicked out of his MOS upon admitting to interviewers that he’d smoked a single joint before enlisting. I think and hope that military standards are higher than for those in civilian life. Nevertheless, with the massive influx of intellectually and morally substandard immigrants over the past 20 years, the private and public sectors have had to get more strict about who gets hired.

  14. wayne martin says:

    > What is Moral Fitness?

    I didn’t know how to answer that question, so I went looking. The following is from a Marine Corps WEB-site:

    Moral Fitness

    Every Marine is a rifleman; every Marine is a combatant and may therefore be called upon to face the dangers of war. This means that every Marine must be prepared morally for the prospect of having to use deadly force in combat.

    Every combatant must consider the following question according to their own conscience: Is killing in war morally justifiable or at best a necessary evil? Human history shows that there have been wars that were waged with less than honorable intentions. However, believing all wars are morally questionable or inhumane can have an adverse impact on a person’s sense of personal dignity, self-esteem, and spiritual worth and lead to “moral injury.” Moral injury can lead to lifelong psychological injury. Veterans are more likely to recover from the effects of combat when their conscience and concept of “what’s right” has not also been violated.

    Just War Theory & Avoiding Moral Injury:
    To fight honorably on the battlefield while maintaining a strong sense of dignity, purpose, and faithful resolve, you must be able to morally invest in the cause for which you have been asked to fight. Remembering 911 and understanding the fact that our enemies are out to destroy our democratic values and freedom by using any possible means can be helpful, but so can understanding the concept of Just War. The “Just War” concept refers to waging war under the direction of an honorable authority, motivated by a just cause, guided by right intentions, carried out through appropriate means, and as a last resort, is in fact a positive good, advantageous, and deserving of merit. Accordingly, if you are called to wage war, even to kill, for a truly noble purpose, then your actions should not be thought of as merely a necessary evil, but as good, right, and deserving of praise. For centuries, the Just War concept has served as a spiritual guideline for religious communities, a moral compass for our nation’s leaders, as well as a source of inspiration for generations of Marines who fought valiantly for our country’s freedom, security, and way of life. Making the moral investment before facing combat enables you, as a combatant, the freedom to more fully engage in tactical requirements on the battlefield. Lower stress, reduced anxiety, wholeheartedness in training, a greater sense of impact for the common good, a deeper sense of honor, integrity, and personal worth, greater unit cohesion and spirit, and perhaps a more real sense of the Divine – these are all the potential results of committing morally to the just cause to which you are called.

    I don’t remember the notion of “moral fitness” coming up during my tour, outside the notion of “conscientious objector”. I was a records clerk before I was commissioned. In that capacity, I reviewed about 10,000 personnel files of US Army Inductees. There were definitely a number of those guys with police records. The worst cases involved assault and battery, and theft/burglary. It stands to reason that those that were “morally unfit” never got into Basic, or were removed before I got to see their records (during their last week in training).

  15. Walter E. Wallis says:

    An acquaintance of mine, stationed at Two Rock Ranch, a facility so hush hush you didn’t mention it, returning to his barracks at 2 AM urinated on a building. He lost his security clearance.

  16. wayne martin says:

    Two Rock Ranch:

    In 1942, the Army purchased Two Rock Ranch and built a Communications Station. The station’s location was ideal for monitoring Japanese communications during World War II. Operations at the station were top-secret.

    >2AM/urinated on a building.

    This station was undoubtedly monitoring communications of the Communist Chinese and North Koreans at this time, just like they were monitoring the communications of the Japanese during WWII. Without the luxury of modern communications equipment, GIs were used to listen and record what they heard. It sounds like this GI had been drinking, and everyone knows “loose lips sink ships”.

    Without more information it’s difficult to comment further about this situation. However, losing a security clearance for this sort of thing is not what “moral fitness” is about.

  17. wayne martin says:

    Anyone interested in an Army-produced book on all aspects of medicine for Recruits, with data about rejection rates and reasons, the following will provide interesting reading–

    Recruit Medicine:

  18. The “moral” criteria usually refers to drug use or a criminal record. The Army is giving more “moral waivers,” usually for serious misdemeanors committed as juveniles. (See New York Times story.)

  19. wayne martin says:

    > “If you are recruiting somebody who has demonstrated
    > some sort of antisocial behavior and then you are a putting
    > a gun in their hands, you have to be awfully careful about
    > what you are doing,” Mr. Hutson said. “You are not putting
    > a hammer in their hands, or asking them to sell used cars.
    > You are potentially asking them to kill people.”

    I’ll bet the person who wrote this has never been in the Army. For the most part, only about 1 in 8 actually are in combat units. The rest are in support units, which routinely don’t carry weapons, or “potentially kill people”.

    At the beginning of WWII, there were about 60M men living in the US. There were about 16M inductees during that war, most of them men. That means that about 1 out of every 4 men was inducted.

    By the summer of 1941 half of the men drafted (mainly older men) had been rejected for medical exams or illiteracy. Based on this experience, the army affirmed its position that 18-to-21-year-olds made the best soldiers.

    After Pearl Harbor, Congress extended registration to ages 18 to 38, removed the overseas prohibition, and increased service to the duration of the war plus six months. In 1942 registration was expanded to ages 18 to 45, the Navy began using draftees, and volunteering was terminated. Yet by 1944 the draft was experiencing major shortages. Racism hampered mobilization. The army’s policy of segregating facilities and military units limited the number of black men who could be trained for service and restricted their roles in the military. Ironically, southern draft boards complained that military segregation forced them to induct mainly white men and to exclude eligible Blacks from service. While shortfalls were due to increased manpower requirements for the planned invasion of Europe and a continued 50 percent rejection rate, a primary factor was the deferment policy.

  20. Although my uncle was in the infantry in World War II, he was assigned for awhile to teach reading to illiterate recruits in Arkansas. This was in 1944, I believe, when the Army was taking guys they’d rejected before.

  21. wayne martin says:

    One of the WEB-sites I came across stated that Arkansas had the second highest number of “rejects” because of illiteracy.

  22. Julia’s right, which is fairly absurd. Nicotine is a non-prescription alternative to Adderall. My father was a sniper in the South Pacific in WWII and he smoked a couple of packs of Luckies a day. He must have been pretty good at it, as he came home. But his ADD, which got passed on to me and my son, got treated with something that killed him. Adderall’s a lot better than cigarettes, but the Army will take smokers.

  23. wayne martin says:

    I hope folks see that the percentage of American men (presumably) acceptable to the US Military (Army at least) has dropped from 50% in the early 1940s to 25% sixty years later. Of course, the population of the US has more than doubled during that time, so the candidate pool is a little larger now than then .. but with all of the money spent by the Government on “the Great Society” .. in expanding education, health care and who knows what else .. the percentage of young people that are fit enough to defend the county in the Armed Services has been halved in this short period of time.

    From the “good of the Country’s” point-of-view, these “investments” don’t seem to brought much in returns.

  24. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The much abused Halliburton does much of the facility support that was done by soldiers in previous wars. When you train like my grandson does you don’t waste that on KP.
    When my Division, the Second Infantry sailed for Korea, the 3rd battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment was Black. To the extent possible, they were desegregated on line. The 503rd FA Battelion [Charles Rangel’s outfit] had also been segregated. The Army had a form of sensitivity training that facilitated integration. If you objected you were busted.

  25. ‘I’ll bet the person who wrote this has never been in the Army. For the most part, only about 1 in 8 actually are in combat units. The rest are in support units, which routinely don’t carry weapons, or “potentially kill people”.’

    I was an electronics technician in the Air Force, which is even more heavily tilted towards support units. E.g., it took about 100 man-hours of ground work on a F-111 for every hour flown, so there were about 100 mechanics, technicians, etc., for every two men that flew the airplane, potentially into combat. Then there were also the cooks, personnel clerks, air controllers, supervisors, etc., so overall we were probably about 100 support people to 1 combat crewman.

    Yet every one of us was trained to fire the M16. Sometimes the excrement hits the circular impeller and weapons are issued to every man, from electronics technician to cook, so they can defend themselves against a hostile force invading the base. I served during the Carter and Reagan administrations, never carried a loaded weapon except on the firing range, and never left the USA, but there were exercises where we carried an (unloaded) M16 whenever we walked outside the shop, as part of pretending that we were deployed to a middle-eastern desert.

    It wouldn’t have been that hard for someone inclined to cause trouble to sneak some ammunition for that weapon – but that’s not the main reason we couldn’t have support people of questionable integrity. There are a million ways that a bit of laziness or carelessness can cause an airplane to crash, and with the low-altitude high-speed mission profiles, F-111 crews hardly ever got time to trigger the airplane’s excellent ejection system.

    If a tiny little screw broke in half, we’d have to account for both halves, because even that little bit of loose metal could destroy a jet engine. (It could also do interesting things inside an electronics box – like the time an airplane dropped a practice bomb while it was taxiing out to the runway, due to a loose washer left inside a control box. If it had been a real bomb, that could have been at least two men dead and a $26 million airplane destroyed.) So there are a lot of rules and procedures to make sure that every bit of hardware and every tool is accounted for – but you’ve got to count on some basic honesty, or you get people cheating the system so they can go home on time instead of staying late looking for the missing item.

    Army support jobs might be a little less critical, but it’s still a very bad thing when a Humvee won’t run because someone neglected to tighten a bolt, or the combat troops don’t get their ammunition because a clerk lazed off…

  26. wayne martin says:

    > Army support jobs might be a little less critical,

    I fear that my comments have been misunderstood. I was being critical of the news media that is routinely populated with uninformed J-school graduates who believe that the role of the media is to shape public opinion, not report the facts with detachment.

    The military is the sum of its parts. The men in Combat Arms get most of the “glory”, but without the men in the rear they would not have the supplies to fight. Most people remember George Patton’s incredible drive thru France and Germany, but how many people could identify the “Red Ball Express”? Patton was moving so fast that he was consuming fuel and ammunition faster than the current supply system was able to provide him. The Supply people began to complain to Eisenhower about Patten’s demands, claiming that the other units needed fuel and ammunition too. Eisenhower, recognizing all too well that this was not a kindergarten situation where everybody got an equal share of the “marbles”, directed that a special supply “chain” be developed for Patton, so that he could continue his advances against the now crumbling German Wehrmacht. The “Red Ball Express” was created almost overnight to provide a non-stop stream of trucks carry fuel and ammunition to Patten’s galloping tanks. In short, Eisenhower saw that Patton got results and he knew that “results win wars”.

    The point here, for those who have not been in the military, is that without fuel, ammunition, food and mail an army will quickly grind to a halt. Military commanders who do not provide as much attention to their supply issues as they do their combat issues will soon be out of a job.

    During WWII, there were about 250,000 men/women in the Army Air Corps assigned to B-29 operations (Pacific Theatre). There were only about 3,000 of the planes in the air at any given time, and never more than about 1,800 operating in a combat zone. These planes had 11 (or 12) man crews, bringing the number of flyers in combat to around 20-25,000 men. The rest of the people were involved with all of the problems of keeping those planes operational.

    In short, there are far more people in the rear than in the front. They rarely get the credit they deserve, but without them there would be no military at all.