Army Digs Deep to Get Strong

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The Army may have met its recruitment goal of 80,000 troops last year but these are not the soldiers of yesteryear. Along with questionable recruitment tactics, the Army has rewritten its enlistment standards on everything from facial tatoos to criminal records. We break down some of the changes in our latest issue, showing how over the past few years the Army has allowed in not only older and fatter plebes, but also record numbers of recruits whose felony records and medical conditions would have disqualified them in years past.

Now the National Priorities Project has run the numbers on the latest data from the DoD, and the declines continue:

-In 2004, 61% of active-duty Army recruits were ‘high quality,’ (average aptitude scores or better, high school diploma). In 2006, less than half, 47%, were high quality, a 23% decrease.

-The number of high school dropouts grew from 13% in 2004 to the just released 27% in 2006, doubling in just two years.

The NPP also breaks down recruiting by income bracket and state. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Montana had the highest recruiting rates while Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia had the lowest number of active-duty Army recruits in 2006.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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