starters, the Department of Defense is in desperate need of reform.There’s just not a lot of truly visionary thinking
going on between those shaved temples in the minds of the men who run the
recruiting command.American society has
undergone revolutionary change in the last generation but the Pentagon is very,
very slow to catch on and they’re deservedly suffering the consequence for
their reactionary stances on the most pressing issues they face.They talk the talk but little changes.
startling statistic that there have been more than 20,000 deserters in the Army
alone during the period from 2006 to 2014. Desertion is so common the military
often looks the other way.The Army has
pursued just 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, and most of these
prosecutions have resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist.
are just one manifestation of a dysfunctional American military.The overwhelming majority of Americans who
are ripe for military service aren’t interested or don’t qualify.The recruiting command is experiencing its
greatest crisis since the end of the draft in 1973, although most Americans are
percent of all enlistees don't make it through initial-entry training, and
another 25 percent leave during their first permanent duty assignment in the
operational Army. This means 40% of all Army enlistees never complete
their first term.
The recruiting command is headed for
a calamity on many fronts, notwithstanding a sophisticated marketing campaign
suggesting otherwise.Not only do nearly
half leave right off the bat, but the pool of potential recruits continues to
shrink.Over 70 percent of the 30.6
million Americans between the ages 17 and 24 can’t become soldiers mostly due
to four factors: inability to pass the enlistment test, criminal records,
obesity, and other health issues.
Each year less
than 400,000 young people become truly eligible for military service, but across
all the services, more than 250,000 are “needed”. Each Army recruiter averages just 10 contracts
a year. The numbers are similar for the Navy and the Marine Corps.The Army alone initiates 16,000,000 contacts
a year - in the hopes of signing up 68,000 recruits for active duty.
We can see
why so many youth report being hounded by recruiters from all branches.
Obviously, one way to deal with the dropouts and
desertions is to allow more recruits in by easing the requirements. For
instance, the leading factor prohibiting enlistment is obesity,
causing approximately 20 percent of ineligibilities.
Throughout its history the Army has
always demanded that all recruits meet the same rigorous physical requirements
but the top command is considering relaxing these requirements for Military
Occupational Specialties (MOS’s) that don’t require a great deal of physical
stamina. This might free leaner recruits for more rigorous duty.
From Military.com: "Today, we need cyber warriors,
so we're starting to recruit for Army Cyber,"
Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet said. "One of the things we're considering is that your [mission] as a
cyber warrior is different. "Maybe you're
not the Ranger who can do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and run the 2-mile inside of 10 minutes, but you can crack a
data system of an enemy. "But
you're physically fit, you're a healthy person and maintain your professional appearance, but we don't make you
have the same physical standards as
someone who's in the Ranger Battalion."
Meanwhile, recruits' scores on the
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) have plummeted in recent
years, making even fewer eligible to enlist. Batschelet, the Army’s top
recruiter, says the inability of potential recruits to clear the ASVAB test is
of more concern than obesity. It's easier to help a soldier make weight than
improve his smarts.
The Army is considering relaxing
minimal ASVAB scores to allow the lowest echelon recruits to enlist. Army
regulations allow for 4 percent of enlistees to score in Category IV (10th to
30th percentile) and no more than 40 percent to score lower than Category IIIA
(50th percentile or higher). Relaxing this criteria or substituting it for a
non-academic personality test may open the floodgates of recruits who have
hitherto been locked out. They may not be the brightest soldiers to join the
ranks but, the Army reasons, some may have a greater propensity to stick it
The Army is toying with the idea of
dispensing with the ASVAB in some cases if a candidate demonstrates a
propensity to stick with the program. The Tailored Adaptive Personality
Assessment System, or TAPAS, is being given at Military Entrance Processing
Stations “to ‘screen in’ candidates who are adaptive, resilient and have
dedication, but perhaps scored only marginally on the ASVAB. According to Lt.
Gen. James C. McConville, Lieutenant General Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1, "It's
not necessarily SAT scores, it's not necessarily GPAs, it's people who have
grit. And so how do you define grit -- how do you measure that?"
It may be tough to measure ‘grit’ but
it’ll probably involve soldiers who are barely literate if they can’t score at
least above the 31% threshold on the Armed Forces Qualification Test, or AFQT.
Rick Jahnkow of San Diego-based Project YANO explains, “They will have to stop having recruiters
initially promise a particular MOS. In the past they have traditionally
elected to allow recruiters to offer some degree of job guarantee.
While this benefits recruiting, it also reduces the military's
post-basic training assignment flexibility. If there is going to be an
increase in recruits who score marginally on the ASVAB and are accepted because
of their "grit," the will need more flexibility for job assignments
after basic. So stopping the practice of recruiters offering an
MOS guarantee would become necessary, even if it would require recruiters
to work harder to sell enlistment.”
Out of shape
Not only is
the Army struggling with soldiers who can’t pass the relatively simple ASVAB
and demonstrate they as smart as an 8th grader, (See ASVAB chapter) the average
recruit is in terrible shape, compared to his predecessors, and not simply in
terms of weight.He is much more prone
to being injured, leaving the ranks even further depleted.The statistics are mind-boggling because
we’re conditioned to think of the Army in terms of being an invincible force.
much longer for the military to transform civilians into traditionally
“qualified service members” while the amount of time allotted to basic training
and the overall rigor of the program hasn’t changed much from the days when
youth were in much better shape. The process is excruciating for tens of
thousands who must endure it annually. Something has to give and it is
typically not the drill sergeant.
could stretch out the boot camp and start soldiers off by walking and doing
very light calisthenics for a few weeks but that would require a degree of
humanism and common sense, something generally lacking in the chain of
command.Instead, new soldiers are
breaking bones and wreaking havoc on their bodies in record numbers.
a 2013 article by Dr. Bradley Nindl, science advisor for the U.S. Army
Institute of Public Health, Musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) represented the
leading cause of medical care visits across the military services resulting in almost
2,200,000 medical encounters in 2012 alone.
“Many of the injury-related
musculoskeletal conditions are due to the cumulative
effects of repetitive microtrauma forces: overreaching/ training, overuse, overexertion, and repetitive movements
experienced during both occupational
duties and physical training.Overuse
injuries are an indicator that a unit is
overtraining. Of the almost 750,000 MSIs reported
in 2006 in military
medical surveillance data on active duty, nondeployed
service members, 82% were classified as overuse.”
the article the Army’s deployment readiness was at just 85% for active duty and
only 70% for Guard and Reserve forces because of the MSI problem.
thousands of soldiers desert their posts. 40% drop out in the first few months,
thousands fail an elementary-level entrance test, and three-quarters of a
million who aren’t even deployed sustain musculoskeletal injuries every year.
But it gets
USA Today reported in April of 2015 that
nearly half of the 770,000 soldiers polled in 2014 ‘have little satisfaction in
or commitment to their jobs,’ according to resiliency assessments soldiers are
required to take every year. “The effort
produced startlingly negative results. In addition to low optimism and job
satisfaction, more than half reported poor nutrition and sleep, and only 14%
said they are eating right and getting enough rest.”
together the reality of military life compared to the squeaky clean marketing
image just don’t add up.Factor in the
abysmal treatment offered by the Veterans Affairs Administration and the entire
military conflagration compares favorably to a train wreck.
Nearly half file injury claims
45% of the
1.6 million veterans of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have filed injury
claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Furthermore, the veterans are
claiming an average of 8-9 physical or mental injuries each. (For comparison,
only 21% of veterans filed injury claims after the 1991 Gulf War.
numbers were supplied by the DOD in 2012 for various injuries claimed by Iraq
and Afghanistan veterans:
than 1,600 of them lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes.
least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision.
than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus (noise or
ringing in the ears).
are disfigured, as many as 200 of them so badly that they may need face transplants.
One-quarter of battlefield injuries requiring evacuation included wounds to the
face or jaw, one study found.
than 400,000 of them have been treated by the VA for mental health problems,
most commonly PTSD.
of all the soldiers sent to a combat zone suffer a serious injury that could
forever limit their ability to get a job, go to college, get married, or have a
normal personal life.Enlisting is like
playing Russian roulette with half of the chambers loaded with bullets. The recruiting
command never includes this information in their marketing campaigns.Care to hop on the train?
veteran’s disability filings have reached historic rates. When the military is
through with many soldiers they’re no longer Army Strong nor can they be
all they can be, although they may feel like an Army of One left alone,
considering their treatment by the Veteran’s Administration.The current backlog at the V.A., that is, the
number of first-time VA benefits claims unresolved for more than four months,
sat at around 245,000 cases in late 2014.
Suicide at all-time high
There’s more horror.In 2013 The Citizens Commission on Human
Rights reported the following:
2013 the Pentagon announced the startling statistic that the number of military suicides in 2012 had far
exceeded the total of those killed in battle—an
average of nearly one a day. A month later came an even more sobering statistic from the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs: veteransuicide
was running at 22 a day—about 8,000 a year.
Military service can be disastrous for a
soldier’s mental health.Cigarette
packages come with warning labels; so too, should be the way the military
packages its recruitment pitch.It’s
just not clear to the American people. Take, for instance, an LA Times story that ran on March 3, 2014
by Alan Zarembo, Nearly 1 in 5 had mental illness before
enlisting in Army, study says.Apparently, studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
found that “despite screening, pre-enlistment rates of depression, anxiety,
bipolar disorder and substance abuse were on par with civilian rates.Rates of suicidalideation, planning and attempts were lower than in the
general population but still significant, given the military's practice of
excluding recruits with a known suicidal history.”This is hardly newsworthy, although the
editors allowed the lead to be buried in the story:
“During their military service,
the soldiers' rates of most psychiatric disorders
climbed well past civilian levels, several times the rate for some disorders.A quarter of soldiers were deemed to be suffering from a mental illness — almost 5% with depression, nearly 6%
with anxiety disorder andnearly
9% with PTSD. The percentage of soldiers who had attempted suicide rose from 1.1% to 2.4%.” It gets worse. Apparently, military
children are more likely to have a history of suicide attempts than their
civilian counterparts. The findings are based on a survey of 9th and 11th
graders at 261 schools across California in 2012 and 2013. Of 2,409 students
with a parent in the military, 11.7% answered yes when asked if they had
attempted suicide in the previous year. For the 21,274 students with civilian
parents, that figure was 7.3%.
The researchers said the stresses of
more than a decade of war — parents away on long deployments or back home
dealing with physical and mental health problems — had trickled down to
children in military families.
It’s important to consume all of this
at one time.From suicide to rape..
Rape and sexual assaults at historic levels
Rape and sexual assault against women
and men are at record levels in the military. An estimated 26,000 rapes and
sexual assaults took place in the military in 2012, the last year that
statistic is available; only 1 in 7 victims reported their attacks, and just 1
in 10 of those cases went to trial.
Military sexual trauma (MST) is
devastating. It includes depression, substance abuse, and paranoia. It’s certainly not the stuff of recruitment
brochures.Attempts to address the
epidemic by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Boxer
(D-Calif.) were defeated in 2014.
From Senator Gillibrand’s website:
Military Justice Improvement Act would have moved the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by
one year or more in confinement
outside of the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.50% of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed
that nothing would be done with their report.Commandant of the Marine Corps General James
F. Amos saidvictims do not come
forward because ‘they don’t trust the chain ofcommand.’”
typically a darling of all things military,
told the top U.S. military chiefs in 2013 he could not advise women to join
the service with a sexual-assault scourge the military has not contained.
last night, a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military
and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not,"
the Arizona Republican, a Vietnam veteran and ex-prisoner of war, told the
uniformed chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard at
a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
presented here is extraordinarily damning to the Pentagon; nonetheless, they
still manage to meet most of their annual recruiting goals. This teflon-clad
institution has built a recruiting system upon a slippery bedrock of deception