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February 02, 2006

Out of Jail, Into the Army

From Salon.com:

    Facing an enlistment crisis, the Army is granting "waivers" to an increasingly high percentage of recruits with criminal records -- and trying to hide it...

    Through the use of a little-known, but increasingly important, escape clause known as a waiver. Waivers, which are generally approved at the Pentagon, allow recruiters to sign up men and women who otherwise would be ineligible for service because of legal convictions, medical problems or other reasons preventing them from meeting minimum standards...

    According to statistics provided to Salon by the office of the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, the Army said that 17 percent (21,880 new soldiers) of its 2005 recruits were admitted under waivers. Put another way, more soldiers than are in an entire infantry division entered the Army in 2005 without meeting normal standards. This use of waivers represents a 42 percent increase since the pre-Iraq year of 2000...

    [E]xamples from the Air Guard files suggest a wider problem:

    • After his parents filed a domestic-abuse complaint against him in 2000, a recruit in Rhode Island was sentenced to one year of probation, ordered to have "no contact" with his parents, and required to undergo counseling and to pay court costs. Air National Guard rules say domestic violence convictions make recruits ineligible -- no exceptions granted. But the records show that the recruiter in this case brought the issue to an Air Guard staff judge advocate, who reviewed the file and determined that the offense did not "meet the domestic violence crime criteria." As a result of this waiver, the recruit was admitted to his state's Air Guard on May 3, 2005.


    • A recruit with DWI violations in June 2001 and April 2002 received a waiver to enter the Iowa Air National Guard on July 15, 2005. The waiver request from the Iowa Guard to the Pentagon declares that the recruit "realizes that he made the wrong decision to drink and drive."

    • Another recruit for the Rhode Island Air National Guard finished five years of probation in 2002 for breaking and entering, apparently into his girlfriend's house. A waiver got him into the Guard in June 2005.

    • A recruit convicted in January 2004 for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and stolen license-plate tags got into the Hawaii Air National Guard with a waiver little more than a year later, on March 3, 2005.

    Taken together, the troubling statistics from the Army and anecdotal information derived from the files of the Air National Guard raise a warning flag about the extent to which the military is lowering its standards to fight the war in Iraq. The president may be correct in his recent press conference boast that "we're transforming the military." But the abuse of recruiting waivers prompts the question: In what direction is this military transformation headed?

Posted by MikeBurke on February 2, 2006 | Permalink


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Tracked on Feb 18, 2006 1:48:07 PM


You people make me sick. I am going to laugh when America is not here anymore and you see the ugly world for what it is. Shame on you to judge somebody for a past crime they may have done. You people I guess don't believe in giving someone a second chance. You tell the recruiters not to go into schools and recruit the intelligent good kids, then you say don't enlist the ones wanting to go but have a mild criminal background. One day soon you will see what all the bitching and moaning has done. And on that day the draft will come back into action and i will be laughing at you pathetic people. The military will survive.

Posted by: Jeremy | Feb 7, 2006 3:48:27 PM


Your e-mail address indicates that you were born in 1981. Which branch of service did YOU serve in? I'm 5 years older than you and have 3 years of enlisted and almost 8 years of commissioned service in the Guard, Reserve and Active Army.
I'm not going to let your inane, rambling and semi-coherent comments go unanswered.

1) We live in a nation of almost 300 million people and maintain a standing Army authorized 492,000 soldiers, a reserve authorized 205,000 and an Army National Guard of 350,000. Our "wise" civilain masters have deemed us not to merit a single additional authorized position since 2001, despite fighting in Iraq, A'stan and Djibouti. It may be worth noting that this current force structure is SMALLER than what we had in 1940 when the nation was only 1/2 the population it is today. In other words, there are countless opportunities for young folks to serve in uniform - military service impacts a smaller percentage of our service-eligible population than at any time following WWI.

2) We do not need men that abuse women in the military. We do not need those arrested for crimes of violence serving. I've led soldiers. Have you? Who are you, armchair warrior, to tell us who NEEDS to serve?

3) Your assertion that the military should be a place for "second chances" is absurd. Countless studies conducted by the DoD and RAND, spanning over 40 years, support the thesis that enlistees with criminal records or lack a GED are exceptionally prone to: a) getting in trouble; b) failing to complete their agreed upon term of service. Reference Charles Moskos' piece, "Patriotism-Lite Meets the Citizen-Soldier" in E.J. Dionne's "United We Serve" for a good overview.

4) I support what the counterrecruiters are doing here and was an Army recruiter myself. The current recruiting environment preys on those with the least options in life and I guess that criminals are among those with "less options."

5) You should be more concerned about equitable and fair recruiting practices before suggesting that the military needs criminals to "survive".

6) I wholeheartedly support a draft/mandatory national service.

7) If you have a degree, I implore you to consider enlisting for a three year Army OCS enlistment contract so you can have the opportunity to lead, coach and mentor in a combat zone, the petty criminals with guns you expect us to deal with in austere environments. OCS has a 100% selection rate. Sign up today to lead a platoon of social, legal and societal misfits --- after all, that's what you advocate to "help" a strained Army. No thanks....


Posted by: IRR Soldier... | Feb 7, 2006 5:45:22 PM

Again IRR Soldier rears up onto his pedestal. Although I disagree with him on many fronts, I do indeed agree with him on several. I agree with mandatory service. No one teaches leadership like the military, responsibility, or courage; so I agree there as well. As to criminal history, you are reading the facts as they were presented. Also, that all the cited cases were NATIONAL GUARD. Yes, the Army did allow a lot of people to come in with waivers. Its not an escape clause either. The 17% number is for ALL waivers, not criminal history. We waive everything from the number of dependents an applicant has, to medical cases, to minor criminal infractions. Severe criminal cases are not even entertained. Nor significant criminal history. So again, IRR, you are wrong. Again, I do enjoy you assuming that the case cited involved a man beating a woman, even though it clearly states it was between his parents, plural, and himself.
Again, all domestic violence cases prosecuted by the D.A. under the Lautenberg Amendment, are automatically PERMANENT DISQUALIFICATION cases. No waiver considered. Every prior service applicant has to get a waiver in grades E-5 and above. Anyone who has more than 3 dependents has to get a waiver. So it is definitely not an issue about criminal history.
And lastly, I agree we are not a second chance organization. But again, the Heritage Foundation research put out this year that the mass majority of the US Military does indeed reflect general society on more than one front.

Below is an excerpt. Get educated IRR Soldier. You are still an idiot when you discuss these matters. Jackpole.

Official Debunks Myths About Military Recruits By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2005 – Recruits entering the military are head and shoulders above their contemporaries, and myths that imply otherwise reflect the Vietnam era, not today, a top Pentagon official told the American Forces Press Service. "They are so clearly a cut above America," Bill Carr, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, said of today's recruits. Carr bristles when he hears unfounded charges that the men and women entering the military are less educated, less affluent or less likely than other 18- to 24-year-olds to have alternatives to military service.  Rather, a combination of volunteerism and commitment to service is prompting young people to enlist, Carr said, noting that a measure of shrewdness plays into their decision.  "They are planning their future and considering what part we can play in it," he said. Carr likes to think of himself as a "myth buster," helping break stereotypes he said are flat-out wrong and cheat servicemembers out of the pride they've earned and deserve. He rattled off examples of those myths and set the record straight for each one.

Myth 1: Military recruits are less educated and have fewer work alternatives than other young Americans.

In fact, military recruits are far better educated than the general youth population, Carr said.  More than 90 percent of recruits have a high school diploma, compared to about 75 percent of the U. S. youth population. That's an important issue to the military, Carr said, because a traditional high school diploma is the single best indicator of a recruit's stick-to-it-ness and likelihood of successfully adjusting to military service.  Recruits with a high school diploma have a 70 percent probability of completing a three-year enlistment versus a 50 percent chance for nongraduates. The military has exceeded the 90-percent benchmark for recruits with high school diplomas every year since 1983, Carr noted.

Myth 2: The military tends to attract people with lower aptitudes.

Recruits actually have much higher average aptitudes than the general youth population, Carr said.  In fiscal 2005, 67 percent of recruits scored above the 60th percentile on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.  The test is designed so that the average young person will score 50 percent, he explained. But high achievement on the test isn't new, Carr said.  Sixty percent of new enlistees have scored at or above the 50 percentile -- the military's benchmark for recruits -- every year since 1985.

Myth 3: The military attracts a disproportionate number of poor or underprivileged youth.

In reality, military recruits mirror the U. S. population and are solidly middle class, Carr said.  He cited a recent Heritage Foundation report that shows most recruits come from middle-class families, rather than poorer or wealthier ones.  Patterns in recent years reinforce this trend, showing a slight dip in recruits from lower socioeconomic groups and a slight increase from upper-class groups, Carr said.

Myth 4: A disproportionate number of recruits come from urban areas.

Inner cities are actually the most underrepresented area among new recruits, Carr said.  Both suburban and rural areas are overrepresented, he said.

Myth 5: The military isn't geographically representative of America.

The southern part of the United States generates the most recruits, 41 percent, but also has the biggest youth population to draw from, 36 percent, Carr said.  Twenty-four percent of recruits come from north-central regions, which have 23 percent of the youth population.  The west, with 24 percent of the nation's youth, contributes 21 percent of the new enlistees.  And the northeast, with 18 percent of the youth population, provides 14 percent of new recruits. Clearing up misconceptions about military recruits paints a truer picture of the young men and women joining the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and the capabilities they bring to their respective services, Carr said.  It also reinforces what Carr said military leaders have recognized all along: "There's enormous talent in their midst," he said.

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Posted by: The Bane of Your Existence | Feb 7, 2006 8:05:29 PM


Thanks for telling me to get "educated" -perhaps you should educate yourself and stop using slanted Heritage Foundation propaganda in an attempt to smear/disprove reality. The fact that the DoD actually regurgitated a Heritage-sponsored study to bolster its case shows one of two things: a) all is lost or b) GOP groupthink has overtaken the Pentagon.

The Heritage Foundation study you cite is severely methodologically flawed and does not reflect a true comparison between those who serve in the volunteer-force and those that are enlistment-eligible. You see, comparing the enlisted force with the 18-24 population in the aggregate obscures the truth. The aggregate 18-24 US population contains a high number of HS dropouts, those with felony criminal records, illegal aliens and drug/alcohol addictions - None of these groups, about 30% of all 18-24 year olds, are eligible to enlist - in large numbers at least - into the military. Why then, are we comparing those that are qualified to serve with those that aren't?
The real story of the lower socioeconomic status the all-volunteer force appears when a TRUE comparison is made with enlistees and ENLISTMENT-ELIGIBLE youth of the same age. In other words, take away the dropouts, druggies, criminals and illegal aliens and compare the enlistment-eligible youth that volunteer and those that don't. When you do that, you will find that our junior enlisted force DOES come from a lower socio-economic swath than those that don't serve. Not impoverished, just lower. The kids that enlist are more likely to come from homes with lower educational attainment and come from smaller, rural communities. When you take away the dropouts and illegals, inner-city HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES are far more likely to serve than their suburban counterparts. this is why the Bronx has seven army recruiting statiosn while Bergen county, NJ has one - even though Bergen County has MORE HS graduates eligible to enlist. Throwing ineligibles into the mix hides the truth - the effect I assume you want.
In fall 2000, before the war, only 5% of Army enlistees had MORE than a HS diploma. Source: Feb. 2006 issue of Military Medicine. In FY 02, I believe this number was 13%. As you know, a whole lot more than 13% of enlistment-eligible civilian 18-24 year olds have at least one college credit. In comparison, in 1964, the last year of the "peacetime draft", fully 17% of drafted E-1s had at least 2 years of college. 42 years later, when as a %, twice as many Americans attend college, we can't even attract a fraction of that number to voluntarily enlist.

The Heritage point made about the ASVAB also misses the boat. While yes, 50% is designed to be the median score. However, until recently, no one who scored below a 31 could enlist at all and a 50 is generally considered to be the bare minimum accepted by the USAF. Why then does Heritage include the "below" 31 crowd into the comparison. The truth is, that among enlistment eligibles, ie. those with over 31, a 67 isn't all that great. This is akin to a college with an 1140 median SAT score saying that they are great because those with 650s and 700s scored lower on a test with an overall median score of 1000 - even though 600s and 750s can't get into most schools.

No break down is made by service. Using the USAF's 300,000 airmen to make the Army and USMC appear "smarter" is a complete shell game. Maybe the Army will look bad if ASVAB scores are broken down by component.

An another front, I fully understand how waivers work - I was in USAREC after all. Your comments regarding felony waivers are misleading. In FY 2001, BEFORE, the recruiting shortfall, the Army accessed over 350 felony waivers onto active duty. Source: Moskos, "Patriotism-Lite Meets the citizen-soldier." The number of felony waivers has INCREASED since then. Bottom line: your assertion that "Severe criminal cases are not even entertained" is a blatent lie. I know what USAREC can and does waive.

The woman beating I referred to came from the recent story out of Lockport, NY, where the DA dropped the charges of a guy that beat a girl becuase he wanted to enlist. Yes, it did happen and was picked up by the AP. If you are/were in recruiting, you know these things happen.

Posted by: IRR Soldier... | Feb 8, 2006 6:43:27 PM

You mean blatant lie? Its called spelling, check it out IRR. So we both are going to use our data and statistics. "Ours" meaning, data that supports our side of the story. Don't like the taste of your own medicine?

And finally, for you. Just because I am a recruiter myself, never made me a liar. You, on the other hand, I have sincere doubts about. Quoting all of your posts is a waste of time, but only recently have you identified yourself as a recruiter. Which begs the question of the numerous USAREC personnel that frequent this site, SINCE WHEN? I find it hard to believe you were on these facts you stated yourself, "...have 3 years of enlisted and almost 8 years as an officer..." YOU ARE A LIAR. 3 YEARS?!?! ALL RECRUITERS ARE NCOS. PERIOD. You somehow made it to an NCO rank and did a three year tour in Recruiting Duty in the United States Army Recruiting Command?? So you came in as an E-5?? Odd. Especially, since USAREC MTOE says you have to have at least 3 years in service, and one year in grade to be a recruiter, that strikes me as totally crazy-talk from you. So, EDUCATE ME. Break it down, day by day. The Corporal Recruiter Program hasn't been around that long, and Recruiting has been a three year detail, whether DA Select or Volunteer since 1977, so how do 3 years enlisted make you a recruiter? Officers aren't recruiters. EVER. So whenever you'd like to clarify yourself and admit to the world how you are all jacked up; we are listening.
Your roles in the Army change with each post. I only change my handle, ArmySoldier05, The Bane of Your Existence, whatever. I have always been a 19D. Now an E-6 19D, with 6 years of Proud and Honorable Service, Combat Vet and Combat Wounded, and Valor Commended. So if this word battle ever wants to get serious, let me know. Contact info is at the bottom. Even if you are/were in the Service, or even an officer, I beg for proof of your identifier as a recruiter, or class attended at the Basic Recruiter Course. I've listened to your bullshit for the last time. You are a disgrace to the Nation and the uniform.

SSG Alan Caldwell
US Army Recruiter
[email protected]

Posted by: Bane of Your Existence | Feb 9, 2006 9:52:24 PM

SSG Caldwell,

Why the Anger? So, officers are never recruiters ... hmmm. Well, as an AMEDD officer I certainly was a recruiter and "on the numbers" at that. In fact, our station, while commanded by an RA MAJ and RA SFC, had both subordinate officers and NCOs assigned "on the numbers." Our station had 2 RA CPTs, 2 USAR MAJs and an RA 1LT(P) in non-leadership, detailed recruiter positions ... I lived it all ... "DPR", "PMS", "Projections", "replicating", "REAS", "ARISS", "P3" and the like.
Moreover, we projected our DAZ applicants directly from the MEPS guidance shop so I got to see (and hear) what really went down from the "counselors" at one of the busiest MEPS in the US. Moreover, several NCOs from the Infantry Battalion and Brigade I served in for 2 years as a platoon leader were NPS recruiters in my AO - these were good guys and their lives sucked in USAREC. Why would they hold punches to someone they knew?
I saw the USAREC CSMs and 1SGs that converted when Reagan was President and hadn't fired a weapon or spent a night in the field since then. Funny how they all wore "expert" badges for weapons they hadn't touched in 15 years under their 5 or 6 ribbons.
I witnessed officer colleagues get berated by our 79R station NCOIC for being low rollers and given 90 day letters. In my USAREC world, DPR, PMS and the shitstorms that followed knew no rank. Our MAJ was an incompetent hack in over her head ... the 79R NCOIC was our "commander" for all intents and purposes.

Quick USAREC education points: officers detailed to recruiting do not have to serve 3 years or extend to go to that assignment. Most serve only 2 years recruiting while I spent 1 in USAREC and than ETS'd.

AMEDD Recruiters - to include detailed 91 series NCOs - do not attend the Basic Recruiter Course - they attend the 3 week Healthcare Recruiting Course at Ft. Jackson. Upon completion, they are awarded the Basic Recruiter Badge. I have that badge on my DD214 and ORB as an IRR officer.

I can share war stories too, but until you've had USAREC HQ calling YOU on a daily basis on the status of finding an Optometry or Clinical Psychology HPSP applicant, STFU! Before berating my service Sergeant, why don't you go out and try to find an Audiologist, 2 Social Workers, a Research Psychologist or Microbilogist on a 60-90 day suspense, willing to join the Army in a major American city that is 80% Democrat. I had all of those "grenades" thrown in my lap because I was good at what i did and professional in my approach. I achieved my mission, survived with an excellent OER and PCS'd to Ft. Living Room.

AMEDD Recruiting for the "onesey-twosey" AOCs requires real sallesmanship, cultural literacy and product knowledge from educated, mature and cynical customers. Shifting gears from conducts with a USAR Pharmacy applicant, Veterinary HPSP applicants and RA Podiatric Residency applicant takes a lot of homework and skill.

I know about USAREC and how it works and that's why I'm here to challenge your "all is fine, nothing to see here" Rush Limbaugh talking points.

I love the Army and I owe everything I am today to the organization - including 2 graduate degrees earned on the GI Bill. That said, I hate seeing an organization I love be destroyed by folks like Rumsfeld and GEN Schoomaker. What's worse, is that USAREC is misleading young people about how strained things really are while targeting the most vulnerable of our population to serve. Cat IVs, Felony waivers and GED holders will not win "the long war" against a determined enemy. Insisting that everything is "a-ok" - to folks who know better- makes YOU part of the problem.

I'm not some cynical activist that never served. I have served in the Guard as an enlisted soldier , USAREC and in a light infantry battlion in the regular Army. I've seen enough to know when things ain't right and when recruiters bend the truth.

Posted by: IRR Soldier... | Feb 10, 2006 1:52:36 PM

An article from today's Baltimore Sun that exposes SSG Caldwell's lies concerning felony waivers - 630 in FY 2005!!!

Baltimore Sun
February 14, 2006

Army Accepts Crime In Recruits

To fill its needs, military issues waivers for some past minor offenses

By Tom Bowman, Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- Struggling to boost its ranks in wartime, the Army has sharply increased the number of recruits who would normally be barred because of criminal misconduct or alcohol and illegal drug problems, once again raising concerns that the Army is lowering its standards to make its recruiting goals.
Last year, almost one in six Army recruits had a problem in their background that would have disqualified them from military service. In order to accept them, the Army granted special exceptions, known as recruiting waivers.

Recruits with medical problems made up the largest single category of those given waivers. However, the largest increase was among recruits with a history of either criminal conduct or drug and alcohol problems, according to data provided by the Army.

In all, the Army granted waivers to 11,018 recruits in the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2005, or 15 percent of those accepted into the service that year. Those figures are up sharply from 2004, when 9,300 waivers were granted, or about 12 percent of those joining the Army.

The Army provided the recruiting figures to The Sun yesterday after the newspaper obtained partial statistics.

Despite the increase in the proportion of those accepted with problems in their background, the Army failed to meet its recruiting target.

A total of 73,000 men and women joined the Army in 2005, down from 77,000 in 2004. The Army reached its recruiting goal in 2004, but it was about 7,000 recruits short last year.

There was a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms "serious criminal misconduct" in their background.

That category includes aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats, according to Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Ky.

The number of recruits in that category increased to 630, from 408 in 2004, reversing at least a four-year trend in which the number of recruits with serious criminal misconduct in their background had declined, according to Army statistics.

The largest increase in waivers was for recruits with misdemeanor convictions. There were 4,587 waivers granted last year in that category, up from 3,667 in 2004. The category includes those with convictions for assault punishable by a fine of less than $500, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and contempt of court, said Smith.

There were 737 waivers for alcohol and illegal drugs, up from 650 the previous year, which also reversed at least a four-year trend of declines in that category. Smith said those waivers were for recruits who tested positive for amphetamines, marijuana or cocaine during recruit processing. A waiver is required to let the recruit wait 45 days before taking another test.

The largest category of waivers was for medical conditions, such as asthma, flat feet or some hearing loss, officials said. There were 5,064 medical waivers in 2005, an increase from the 4,567 in 2004.

Smith said he could not explain why some categories, such as misdemeanors, had increased over the past four years, while others, such as drug- and alcohol-related problems, declined.

"We don't have an arbitrary floor or ceiling" on waivers, he said. "It's looking at each individual and making a decision."

According to Pentagon officials, the percentage of waivers granted by the Army in the recruiting year that began in October is likely to match or exceed the figures from last year.

Smith denied that the increase in waivers reflects a lowering of standards by the Army or difficulties in meeting recruiting goals. The Army has met its monthly goals for the past eight months, according to the service. In deciding to grant waivers, Smith said, the Army decides to look at the "whole person concept" and not just some past incidents.

Army statistics show a fairly steady increase in waivers over the past five years, a period that includes the increasingly deadly war in Iraq.

The waivers reflect a troublesome trend, said Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University.

"It shows you how the recruiting difficulties are getting worse," he said. "They're dropping the standards. It increases the likelihood of problems in the unit, discipline problems."

"By and large these are flawed recruits," said retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who commanded the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division during the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

He said the ripple effects of the waivers will be felt into the future when the recruits are up for promotion: "Those getting waivers won't be the sergeants we want."

McCaffrey recalled the post-Vietnam Army of the 1970s, which had similar low-quality recruits and soldiers.

"It took us about a decade to take a fractured Army and turn it around," he said, adding that the global situation is grimmer than it was three decades ago. "We don't have 10 years this time."

Army Lt. Gen. Theodore G. Stroup Jr., who was chief of Army personnel during the 1991 gulf war, said it's too early to say what effect the increased waivers will have on the Army.

Historically, recruits who have high-school diplomas and are drug-free and crime-free are far more likely to make it through Army training and their three-year or four-year enlistment period, while those lacking these personal attributes are more likely to wash out.

Senior Army leaders continue to dispute criticism from McCaffrey and others, saying that the Army is performing well in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that recruitment is on the upswing and that the soldiers fielded today are the best trained and equipped ever.

"Most of you might remember the armed forces post-Vietnam, where we had major problems in discipline, major problems in readiness, major problems across the board," Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's top officer, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

"The United States Army is not broken."

At the same time, the percentage of waivers is far lower for National Guard and Army Reserve recruits. About 2.2 percent of the 21,300 recruits brought in during 2004 and 2.37 percent of last year's 19,400 recruits received waivers, according to the Army data.

Lt. Col. Mike Jones, deputy director of recruiting for the National Guard, said senior Guard officials made a decision to keep the number of such waivers as low as possible to avoid "second- and third-order effects."

Jones said those with health problems could be a burden on the Guard's budget, while those who have criminal histories tend to be discipline problems that could infect a unit.

Smith, the Army Recruiting Command spokesman, said the Guard and Reserve might have an easier time avoiding waivers because their recruits tend to be older. There is a "maturity factor" that would decrease the likelihood of criminal or drug problems.

The spike in waivers comes on the heels of a decision by Army leaders to double the percentage of recruits -- from 2 percent to 4 percent -- who score in the lowest acceptable category of the military's aptitude test. That level, known as Category IV, means the potential recruit scored between 16 and 30 on a test in which the highest grade is 99.

The new percentage means that 2,000 or more recruits would come into the Army with lower scores on the aptitude test.

The Army is also bringing in more recruits without high school diplomas and increasing the age limit for recruits, from 35 to 40.

Part of the reason for overall recruiting difficulties is the Bush administration's decision to temporarily increase the size of the Army by 30,000 to deal with the strain caused by the overseas missions in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Army had about 480,000 soldiers before the Sept. 11 attacks. It now has about 492,000 and plans to increase that number to 512,000 over the next two years.

Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey said recently that the Army is increasing the number of recruiters and beefing up bonuses, but he acknowledged that attempting to boost the size of the Army during a war is "very challenging."

Posted by: IRR Soldier... | Feb 14, 2006 3:19:10 PM

Americas full of hypocrites I mean wasn’t America built on violence, greed, and dishonesty? Are we not the ones that came to this great land and discovered it I mean after we almost wiped out the Indian population (would that be considered murder?). So we condone violence and murder as long as it’s in our best interest (oil/gas prices)? When you look at it through most other countries eyes we are the criminals. There’s a reason that most of the world did not back us in the decision to go to war and what do you think it is? Here’s a hint WE WERE WRONG WE MADE A MISTAKE but of course America would never admit to being wrong were always right. Right????? I guess my point is should someone that has made bad choices in the past be able to join the military and have a choice to protect their family and friends from harm? I personally believe they should. I just wish our troops had a choice in the cause they were willing to fight for instead of those idiots in the white house.

Posted by: Me | Feb 22, 2006 2:16:43 AM

To SSG Caldwell:

Since getting out after five years of honorable service, I have had many conversations with gung-ho folks such as yourself. That is, people who cannot argue facts and numbers, and instead resort to personal attacks, questioning the patriotism and service of those with whom they disagree. ("No way you were a recruiter! No way you were an E-5! No way you were in Nam! What platoon? What was the serial number of your helmet? Liar!). Listen, if you can't defend the methodology of "studies" that you cite, you should get out of the kitchen. Seriously. You are not the intellectual caliber that can have a reasoned discussion in a forum such as this.

FYI, I am lower middle class, but come from a solid middle class town where literacy is almost 100% and where most kids get at least some college or vo-tech training. When I was in the arny, the enlisted people that I served with were the white trash dregs of society. Not to say they were all bad people, but on the whole they did not have a lot going for them besides the military. These are guys who would be doomed to a life on the loading dock of Sears Roebuck, if not for Uncle Sam. If you don't notice it because that's your own social strata, that's fine. But don't go chirping that you and your friends are "above average". And don't go citing a "study" by the most extreme partisan think-tank in America, at least not unless you are prepared to defend it's methodology.

Posted by: Jake Katz | Feb 23, 2006 7:51:07 PM

You mean the military accepts recurits with criminal records *GASP*?!? Hell, I remember when judges would dismiss the charges against some miscreants if they agreed to enlist and straighten their lives out.

In my personal experience, these kids are a mixed bag. Some of them just made a bad decision and needed a little purpose and guidance in their lives - and turned out to be great Sailors - and others started as human detritus and got kicked out as they deserved.

Posted by: Yankee Sailor | Feb 27, 2006 10:50:34 AM

Mr. Yankee Sailor,

The army will be seeing a lot more human detritus in coming months and years. The record 1 in 6 kids coming in on a waiver, is just the tip of the iceberg. You can bet there is a parallel rise in fraudulent un-waivered enlistments. Who knows how many kids are being less than candid about their criminal or medical records, often at the urging of their recruiters? The army will always deny it, but it's no secret that you have to be very desperate or very stupid to sign up for this lemon of a war.

When I was in uniform in the 1990s, you could get kicked out for two drug or disciplinary infractions, or one DWI or domestic incident or fraternization episode. But I read now that no one is getting kicked out for any reason. Basically there is a STOP LOSS on junkies, misfits, and med-cases.

I say to the army: Good luck winning this war and fighting the next!

Posted by: Jake Katz | Feb 27, 2006 3:46:05 PM


While things are not quite as bad as you make them sound, yes, the Army is keeping around a lot of folks that would have been swiftly chaptered when you or I ('98-'02) were on active duty.

The biggest change in this is the formal removal of all chapter authority from the battalion to Brigade commanders. Since "retention" and "chapters" now come across the Brigade Commanders desk, you can bet there is great hesistance for an exceessive number of chapters to be filed - no matter how well deserved. This is precisely the effect desired by Rumsfeld and his lackey - GEN Peter Schoomaker.

You are quite correct about these stats being the tip of the iceberg. Recruiters are struggling, even in formerly lucarative areas like the southeast. There is definitely an increasing number of unidentified ineligibles and enlistment fraud.

Even more troubling is the rise of CAT IVs - enlistees with below a 31% on the ASVAB. These are essentially the lowest third of American youth and probably NOT who we need on AD right now.

Yankee Sailor,

You are entitled to your opinions, but the fact remains that felony/misdemeanor waivers, GED-holders, and low testers have a disproportionately high number of failures to complete their enlistment. Overall, the Army has about 39% of enlistees fail to complete their first term. This % increases to over 60% for GED holders and felony waivers.

Your argument presents a false choice. We are a nation of 300 million with a 480,000 man Army and 180,000 man USMC. We don't need to accept human detrius to wage our wars. We have plenty of QUALIFIED folks 18-30 to do it. We need a draft in the worst way. BRING BACIK THE DRAFT!!!!!

Posted by: IRR Soldier... | Feb 27, 2006 4:45:32 PM

I am one of those people who have a felony charge and I want to join the military. I am 22 years old and I am ready to do something with my life. Just because I have a felony doesnt mean Im a bad person. I made a mistake and dont believe I should pay for it for the rest of my life. I just want to know how I would go about getting this waivor and which branch would most likely except me. I need a professional answer as soon as possible.

Posted by: Terrance Reynolds | Mar 9, 2006 1:20:48 PM

I was leafing through the posts here on the this page and see a wide variety of opinions and someone quoting one source or the other. Problems is with surveys and the like the are all slanted and you show me one that says one thing, I will show you another that says something else. As far as waivers into the military, they have always been there. The regulations (601-210) has changed, but not in essence. Each waiver is a case by case basis, always has been. Some things are flat out disqualifiers, some have to be investigated.
example. 24 yr old male has two Minor in Possession of Alcohol charges. 1 year of probation for each offense. Oh by the way he missed a community service day (probation violation) which is a msd, and was late paying his fine (another Msd) According to the regulation this guy is disqualified for military service. Does he deserve that? Most people would say of course not. That is where a waiver comes into play. Most waivers are for things of this nature. DV and DUI waivers do happen, this type of waiver usually takes months and the applicant has to go through several interviews and prove he has the willingness and desire to be a better person. So they get the chance.

Medical waivers are even more difficult to obtain. Ever us an inhaler? You did! had brochitis and was prescribed one for 2 weeks when you were 9 years old. Disqualified. Unless you can prove that 12 years ago, you did not have asthma. These are the scenerios I have seen played over and over again. My take is this. Nothing is perfect, it is never going to make everyone happy. If you don't want to enlist, don't. But leave the people who do alone. I believe homosexuality is wrong. You won't hear me say much. I just don't sleep with men.

Posted by: Bob | Mar 9, 2006 8:08:39 PM

I don't see why people that are willing to die for their country shouldn't be given the chance. I myself would jump at the chance to fight for our country, but because of stupid choices I made when I was 17-18 I cannot. I am now 23, married, home owner, journeyman carpenter, God fearing man. Not the same boy I was. But despite how much I've changed or what else I can accomplish, I will never be able to honor my family or my country with the same sacrifices that they made for me. It is very depressing to walk in to a recruiting station willing to die for your country and be told that they don't want you, you don't qualify. How do you qualify to sacrifice yourself for your country?

Posted by: Will | Mar 12, 2006 12:54:24 PM

I was able to get into the National Guard because they waivered my criminal history. I was not allowed into the Active Duty Army because I grew up doing stupid things, and paid the price for it. I was just now able to convert to the active side after 2 years of the Guard. I'm thankful for the chance to serve even though my past was bad. It seems some of you support second chances, and some of you don't. I agree with Will, but if they are willing, shouldn't the rules allow them the chance? Seems like asking for a volunteer, then telling a volunteer no. On the other hand, I actually know SSG Caldwell, he recruits in my hometown. I think because he is hotheaded sometimes, he is very passionate, you think he is overbearing and rude. He was always very honest and truthful to me and my wife, and super helpful to make my transition easy. I'd say you'd have to meet him and find out that he wants the best for everyone. God Bless.

Posted by: Roy Dewey | Mar 13, 2006 9:52:28 PM

Folks, there are *individuals* and then there are *aggregates*. I am not accusing anyone of being a bad person. BUT... It is well known that waivered soldiers have a much higher attrition (dropout) rate, whether for disciplinary, family, or medical reasons. This is why the military has traditionally kept a lid on its enlistment waivers. OK?

Secondly, there are better ways to serve your country than spending your life in a wheelchair. Think, 40 years from now, who will remember this war? How many American kids will know that there once was a unified country called "Iraq"? How will you feel then, sitting in your wheelchair?

What is it that is missing in your life, that makes you want to kill people for a living? Adventure? A sense of pride in your job? A feeling of community? You can find all of these things without signing your life away and becoming a mercenary. Work on it. Think about it. Don't take the easy way out. Don't let anyone do the thinking for you. It could get you blown up.

No one has ever died for a "country". For good or bad, people die for their leaders. Think, think, think.

Posted by: Jake Katz | Mar 14, 2006 10:37:11 AM

And think some more...

When you put on that uniform, as I once did, you become a pawn in the political games of people who would never dream of sending their own kids to fight and die.

You become a cog in a big machine, a number in a database, a set of dog tags.

You fight the bad guy of the day. Maybe he was yesterday's darling? Doesn't matter. He pissed off Uncle Sam, so he has to die. And someone has to get elected or re-elected, so maybe you have to die, too. Tough luck.

Oh, patriotism? Who is lecturing you about patriotism? What do George Bush's beautiful daughters do for their country? Or Dick Cheney's kids, or Wolfowitz's kids, or Perle's kids, or Rumsfeld's kids? OK, let's go back in time... What about Clinton's kid? Reagan's kids? Get the picture?

Don't be a doofus, as I was. Don't waste your life playing the little soldier man in someone else's video games.

Posted by: Jake Katz | Mar 14, 2006 10:46:57 AM

If every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine - officer and enlisted alike, from General Pace in the Pentagon to the private who just lowered his right hand - stopped what they were doing, right now, this second, and walked away from their service... what would happen? Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: Bill | Mar 22, 2006 4:19:53 PM

Bill, you ask what would happen? Not much, really. As long as the INS, Border Guard, Coast Guard, and the embassy folks granting the visas all do their jobs, honestly and efficiently, this country will be perfectly safe and secure. All we have to do to keep the terrorists (whoever they are) out is not to stamp their passports like we did with the 9/11 highjackers. Fix that system, and you have virtually no need of an offensive military. Looking at how the U.S. military is currently structured and based, it is obviously a hegemonic force designed to enforce the U.S. government's will in certain key areas of the globe. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a home defense force. Get that out of your head. We are an empire and our military is an imperial force. Anyone who serves in this military is a pawn in the global games of the rich political families that circulate through the White House, who would never dream of sending their own kids to fight.

Posted by: Jake Katz | Mar 27, 2006 2:08:08 AM

Mandatory national service? That is not freedom. Sure, I think serving can be a very positive experience that makes great Americans. However, this is the land of the free. Mandatory national service is not freedom. How can you push the 'we fight so you can enjoy freedom' bit, if at the same time you lobby for forced service. I'm shaking my head. I love the freedom I enjoy. I can be anything from a shiftless bum to a hardworking garbage man to an overprivledged kid who has no respect for anything. All because the USA allows that range without punishment or 'mandatory service.' I had no idea that people still thought like that. It's kinda like a waiter or waitress who says they think everyone should have to wait tables at some point in their life. Not a bad idea, but I don't advocate that we pass a law. As for the whole felony recruitment issue. I'm sure a few baddies get through the process. Hell, I've known a few. However, I don't think they've set up shop outside the prisons and I don't think that a whole lot of criminals are serious about enlisting. They're most often interested in commiting more crime or getting as far away from the government as possible. One last note, at the time of this writing, we have spent enough money in the past three years in Iraq to send every 18-22 year old in the USA to public university for four years. This is no joke. Do the math. A better educated society is a much greater defense than the offensive in Iraq. I think most agree, right region, wrong country.

Posted by: Brad Reichel | Mar 27, 2006 11:20:53 AM

I have been trying to get in the Army for two years and been through processing countless times. I am currently waiting on a waiver myself. I was as a juvenille convicted of a felony because my father wanted to teach me a lesson and I have been struggleing to achieve my goal of serving in the Army ever since. I made one mistake and am paying for it. I am not a career criminal as a matter of fact i voulenteer for the Salvation Army and have never gotten in any trouble including traffic violations since my incedent as a juvenille. I truly want to be a soldier. I dont care about bonuses or any of that I merely want to serve my country and make the US Army a career. So please tell me if the Army is letting in so many felons why cant a kid who made a mistake when he was a juvenille having such a hard time getting in?This is all I want to do with my life I am truly dedicated and have been turned down time and time again but will continue to strive to achive my goal of becoming a soldier. I waould also like to state I too feel it is wrong to judge someone who may have nade a mistake or two while they were growing up. It seems everyone just keeps trying to keep people like myself from doing good things for their country and with their lives.

Posted by: Kevin Flack | Apr 22, 2006 10:09:53 PM

George Bush's sold us out

Posted by: hell with us | May 8, 2006 7:47:15 AM

Interesting posts so far with some very passionate perspectives. So what can I contribute? Well, I don't know much, and never served as a recruiter, so I'm not sure that I can intelligently comment on the nature of Army recruiting. I only had the opportunity to serve as an Airborne, Sniper Qualified NCO on a light infantry Scout team, and was only in for about 6 years.
I come from a middle-class background, graduated from college with honors in 3 years, and am now in grad school. I am more intelligent than some, less intelligent than others...did more in the Army than some and less than others. So what can I contribute from my limited perspective?

I had the opportunity to serve with (and lead) soldiers from middle-class backgrounds, and soldiers from lower-class backgrounds. I led and served with soldiers that had criminal records, and soldiers with no HS diploma. In fact, I encountered soldiers with a variety of waivers in the short time that I was in the service. My overall experience was enough to let me know that (while I don't discount statistics) I would much rather serve with someone from a less-privileged background that knows how to work, then many of the soldiers from more-privileged backgrounds that complained incessantly.

As for problems that require chaptering of soldiers out of the army...again, while I don't discount the statistics, I saw a variety of soldiers chaptered for a variety of reasons, from a variety of backgrounds. That said, is it really that difficult to understand why the army's recruiting standards have slackened during a time of war?

As for not serving in order to keep from being a pawn in someone else's game...pawn or not I wouldn't want to leave the totality of our national security to the CG, border patrol, immigration...etc...seems a bit naive to me.

Posted by: Matt | May 11, 2006 4:12:40 PM

I am a former inmate who served five years in the State of Arizona for armed robbery. Now I was 17 when this crime was committed and I was guilty by association as I was just there and did not actually participate in the crime.

I have been out of prison for almost six years and have since obtained a job that grants me a six figure a year income and puts me on a platform where I have had the honor to meet people like Rudy Guilliani.

I have had the desire to join many times and it is unfortunate that because of people like yourself stereotyping people because of their past offenses. I could serve the military well and would do it in a second as I love this country and would gladly lay my life on the line for it.

There are many people in prison right now, who because of prison have qualifications that would make you think twice. Dedication, Desire, and a sense of self worth are reasons.

Think twice before you blog subjects like this.

Posted by: Nicholas Fletcher | May 17, 2006 8:32:43 PM

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