I recently spoke about this with my friend Eli Flyer, a longtime Pentagon consultant on military recruiting, who painted a grim picture of the Army's current recruiting strategy. In 2005, Flyer noted, the Army fell far short of its goal of attracting 80,000 enlistees. It managed to meet that same target last year by deploying about 1,400 new recruiters, by offering larger enlistment bonuses and other incentives, and by systematically lowering educational standards for new recruits. For example, the portion of non-high school graduates in last year's enlistee pool was 27.5 percent, up from 17 percent in 2005. In the 1990s, non-grads (most of whom do have a G.E.D.) made up only about 5 percent of new Army recruits.
There has also been an increase in the number of recruits coming in with "moral waivers" for a criminal history (a story covered last year by the Los Angeles Times). Last year, one in ten recruits had a prior misdemeanor or felony conviction. That adds up to 7,500 individuals, up from 4,000 in 2004. Meanwhile, a Hartford Courant series last year found that the military is enlisting (as well as redeploying) a growing number of mentally-troubled soldiers.
When they get desperate enough, they will waive all sorts of prior requirements to joining the armed forces.
My Dad went to Viet Nam even though he had flat feet. Later when we wanted to rejoin the army after being a civilian, they said that he couldn't because of his flat feet. He responded that if we was good enough for Viet Nam, he was good enough then and they took him back in. My dad said he knew a number of guys that were given the "jail or join the army" sentence.
Is it me or does this just show the level of desperation going on in order to feed the war machine?