The US Army has backed off a plan to enlist a massive number of high school dropouts to make up for having met only 40% of its recruiting goal with only 90 days left in FY2022. My colleague, Alex Parker, covered the initial story in US Army Jettisons GED Requirement Amid an Ever-Woker Defense Department’s Desperation.
The Army, along with the other services, faces an ongoing crisis to fill in the ranks amid a convergence of issues, including an increasingly competitive civilian job market and the military losing some public awareness in the absence of a major conflict. So far, the Army has only hit about 40% of its recruiting goals this year.
On June 23, the service said that it would drop the requirement for completing high school under the condition that enlistees quickly ship out to boot camp, setting a deadline of Oct. 1 to begin training.
However, the move was met with some mockery online and accusations of it being a desperate measure, lowering standards to fill in the ranks wherever the Army could.
“Some people have frankly become very self-conscious of the news coverage,” an Army official with direct knowledge of the policy change told Military.com.
Before I move forward on this, a bit about my background. As most of you know, I’m a former infantry officer. When I left command of a light infantry company, I was selected to be an Inspector General investigator in US Army Recruiting Command. As part of this assignment, I had to attend the Command’s course for recruiting company commanders so I’d know what was expected of the people I was investigating. I investigated malfeasance and misconduct, and when the human-frailty business was slack, I accompanied inspection teams on their rounds. I did this for 3 1/2 years.
The article used by Alex has some major stupid in it that I’d like to clear up. The Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) measures “aptitude,” not “potential academic ability.” The test presumes the applicant can read English. If you can’t, either because you are not proficient in English or not terribly literate, you will not do well. The AFQT score range is 0-99 and generally maps to IQ. Federal law prohibits the enlistment of people who score 1-9 (called Cat V in the field). People scoring 10-30 (called Cat IV, or “rocks with lips”) may not exceed 20% of the force (or 80% of the general officer corps…just joking). Take a look at Title 32 CFR § 66.6 for more details. Cat IVs are usually processed for enlistment and kept on a string in the “Delayed Enlistment Program” until the Army opens the gates toward the end of the FY. Then the recruiter calls his Cat IV pool and says, “Johnny, if you still want to join the Army, be ready to leave at 4 a.m. tomorrow.” The window for Cat IV only stays open for a short time because the 20% threshold is reached fast. (The same numbers apply to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB; the AFQT determines eligibility to enlist, while the ASVAB determines eligibility for specific career fields.) Each career specialty has what is referred to as a “quality cut.” That refers to the percentage of troops in each of the mental categories assigned to that specialty. I don’t know what the pecking order is now. When I was in the Pentagon, the top three, in descending order, were Military Intelligence, Infantry, and Armor. The lowest quality were the various administrative and supply specialties.
The Army puts a premium on applicants who score 51 or above, called Category IIIA or I-IIIA. It also puts a premium on applicants with a traditional high school diploma (high school diploma graduates or HSDGs).
There is a perception that the Army values HSDGs because of educational attainment. Not true. The two things the Army is most interested in are a) trainability, which is why the AFQT is emphasized, and b) ability to complete an enlistment.
Quitting is a lifestyle choice. A kid that quits high school is exponentially less likely to complete a 3-year active-duty enlistment than an HSDG, no matter the AFQT score. If you decrease the number of HSDGs in the force, you reduce the strength of the field army as they attrit earlier, and you increase the number of soldiers recruiters must bring in to make up for those who did not make it through three years.
The point of this is not to bore you but to impress upon you that recruiting is a helluva lot more than “get on the bus.” It is a highly scientific process that seeks to provide the training base with a soldier with the aptitude to master the skills required to join the field force. It aims to provide the field force with a soldier who will not engage in misconduct and complete a term of enlistment under honorable conditions. Of course, there are exceptions to all the rules, but if you are recruiting tens of thousands of soldiers each year, you have to focus on the profile of what makes a successful soldier and not on the high school dropout and convicted felon who could go on to win the Medal of Honor.
The Army’s willingness to fill a substantial portion of the 60% of the FY2022 recruiting goal with kids who they know will not complete their first term of enlistment shows the level of desperation. A couple of years from now, the recruiting field force will not only be forced to recruit for its usual number of soldiers, but it will also be recruiting to replace vacancies created because most of the non-HSDGs will no longer be in uniform. The more years you relax the educational requirement, the more vacancies you have to recruit to fill.
Selecting the best applicants is only possible if you can get qualified applicants into the recruiting office. Task & Purpose, which is usually a hot mess of leftism, gets a lot of the structural issues correct. The change in the media environment makes it much harder to get recruiting ads in front of prospects. The death of the landline phone means recruiters can no longer reach the homes of prospects.
Technology is only part of the problem. The Army relies on word-of-mouth. It depends on parents, veterans, teachers, and coaches to spread the word. It relies on how the general public views the Army. The Army went into the crapper at the end of the Vietnam war because the Army that came out of Vietnam was not viewed positively by the general population. It took courage, or desperation, to enlist in the Army between 1975 and around 1982 because enlisting was the quickest way to become a social outcast.
Now the Army seems hellbent on destroying 40 years of hard-earned reputation for the sake of being woke and dying its hair magenta.
The reason for the Army failing to meet its recruiting goals is simple, it has essentially declared that it has no use for heterosexual males or integrity.
Over the past decade, Army leadership has decided that woke indoctrination is more important than the credo of Duty, Honor, Country. When the Army opened its museum at Fort Belvoir, naturally, it included the gallery of “firsts.” The first “openly gay general,” Army Major General Tammy Smith, is featured. Absent from its discussion of her career is how she illegally joined the Army and served when the very sensible policy barring homosexuals from service existed. The message seems to be that lying is fine if you can survive long enough for the Army to accept the lie as truth. See The US Army: an institution corrupted to its very core.
Ever since Obama Defense Secretary Ashton Carter issued his fiat that all combat arms are open to women, the Army has been engaged in a war on its history and on the culture and demographic that has historically provided it with recruits and young officers.
Army Recruiting has, or used to have, a mnemonic device that covered the motivators that influence the decision of young people, particularly 18-21-year-old males who have graduated from high school and score over 31 on the AFQT, to enlist. The word is TEAM. Training (you learn skills that give you a leg up in civilian life); Education (the Army helps pay for college); Adventure (self-explanatory); and Maturity (no longer being viewed as a kid). None of that matters anymore because that is not the product the Army is selling.
The most recent Army advertising campaign had zero ads aimed at working-class or middle-class white males (Two of the five profiles are immigrants. Three of the five profiles are women. Three of the five are officers. None of the examples are combat arms…I know the Aviation branch claims to be, but they are delusional.). However, it did feature a “Heather Has Two Mommies” archetype.
The Army describes the ad campaign this way:
“‘The Calling’ showcases how five Soldiers answered their call to selfless service,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Charles K. Masters II of Army Enterprise Marketing.
“Soldiers across the Army stepped up to share their personal stories with America to breakdown the stereotypes associated with those who serve.
“Their inspiring stories highlight the diversity in the Army as we continue to be a Team made up of great people.
“One common thread you will see throughout this campaign is our soldiers all believe in something bigger than themselves and strive to make a difference in the world.”
The stereotype they are trying to break down is that the military is mostly male, and those males are overwhelmingly heterosexual and white. The other stereotype they are trying to break down is that the Army fights wars.
How does anything in those ads convince a young heterosexual man that the Army offers him anything?
My good friend Mike Ford, writing at AFNN, says this about the current situation.
Finally, let’s return to where we started. Consider the issue of replacing old farts like me, with competent, motivated young men to fight our nation’s wars. The Soldier (Marine, Sailor, Airman) we are looking for, wants to be the hero. He does not want to be stuck inside the wire, forbidden to rescue his fellow citizens from certain abandonment and death. He doesn’t want to have to rely on team members who are so mentally disordered that they cannot figure out what sex they are. These young men do not want to be continually harangued for being MEN. They don’t want to be continually browbeaten by lesser men for demonstrating the attributes that are necessary to win wars…the manly attributes necessary to protect our citizens. If the Army thinks it has recruiting problems now, just wait.
(For those of you new to RedState, I recruited Mike to the front page during my tenure as managing editor only to lose him to a better offer made by the nascent think tank that is using AFNN as its opinion portal.)
The Army would rather have a small number of the “right” recruits than an Army that can fight and win wars. This is not lost upon the American public. If the average 18-year-old hasn’t kept up with what is happening, that key group of “influencers” the Army relies upon to carry its message to young men and women about the Army has not.
You can read more of my coverage of the Army’s self-destructive spiral in these posts.
Why any young man would want to join an organization that says they have no use for him is just and views masculine virtue as toxic, if not outright criminal, is beyond me.