Sunday, October 3, 2004


An article in the NYTimes on Oct. 1 describes how the military is lowering its recruiting standards to help compensate for the current shortfall in applicants for enlistment.

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.

In 1966, during the Vietnam War, the DoD came up with Project 100,000 in which standards were relaxed to allow Low Aptitude CatIV recruits, those in the 10-30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, to enter the service. It was an attempt to elevate individuals out of their circumstances in the War on Poverty. From 1966 to 1971, 456,000 people in CatIV were enlisted or drafted. A high percentage of these went to Combat Arms such as Infantry, Gun Crews, or Seamen. Cannon fodder and deck apes, meaning no offense to my esteemed webfooted brethren.

Read the report to find out how this project, and the servicemen involved, made out.

Since the end of the draft, standards have been high for the all-volunteer force and only the cream of the crop of applicants were accepted. Even the infantrymen are smart. We have advanced to the point where the grasp of technology and its use have superceded the need for cannon fodder. This is a good thing.

It's changing due to the mess that Bush has created in Iraq. The smart kids ain't going for it, and they have to reduce the standards to allow the increased need for warm bodies to be met. By lowering standards incrementally, the military is starting out slower this time. Project 100,000 was sort of all at once. In an effort to forestall a draft, they will lower standards a little bit at a time to generate enlistments, just as they did in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Reinstitution of the draft will be political suicide for whomever is on the throne at the time. Bush hopes he can forestall it until his term expires in 2009 and screw whomever comes after. Given his inability to correct the situation in Iraq, this is probably his wisest course.

I think that President Kerry is smart enough that the draft won't have to happen and that's the way I'm betting.

Personally, I will defend this country with a slingshot if I have to, though preferably with an M-14 and bayonet. I would go to Afghanistan in a heartbeat, but not to Iraq, and I don't blame the kids a bit for not signing up.

No comments: