And that’s the good news.
In each fiscal year since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, statistics show, the army has accepted a growing percentage of recruits who do not meet its own minimum fitness standards. The October statistics show that at least 1 of every 5 recruits required a waiver to join the service, leading military analysts to conclude that the army is lowering standards more than it has in decades.
“The across-the-board lowering of the standards is buying problems in the future,” said John Hutson, a retired rear admiral, dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, and a former judge advocate general of the navy. “You are going to have more people getting in trouble, more people washing out” before finishing their tour of duty. […]
Of the 6,434 enlistees who signed up last month, 792, or 12.3 percent, required waivers for past criminal activity that would have disqualified them, including misdemeanor and felony convictions, according to army data.
By comparison, 11.2 percent of army recruits were granted criminal waivers in all of fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30. The 2007 figure was the largest percentage of recruits admitted on waivers since the Iraq war began.
This trend really speaks for itself. We simply are not recruiting the best and brightest for our all-volunteer force. These people could very well cause more problems than they fix when put under a tremendous amount of pressure. We’ve already seen the fallout from a few bad apples in Iraq. Our credibility can’t bear the burden of thousands more. And I’m all for an all-volunteer force, but it’s clear that as we continue this trend of nation building, our military is suffering as a result.
So what’s more important…spreading democracy or maintaining a balanced, well-trained fighting force? Because I think we’re seeing that it’s either one or the other.