Army Doubles Idiot Quotient

The Army has announced that it is doubling the number of idiots allowed to enlist in order to ease recent recruiting shortfalls.

Army To Lower Bar For Recruits (LAT, Newsday)

Facing recruiting shortages brought on by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has decided to accept a greater number of recruits who score near the bottom of military aptitude tests, the secretary of the Army said Monday.

Coming off a recruiting year in which the Army fell short of its goal of 80,000 active-duty soldiers, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey announced that the Army would allow up to 4% of its recruiting class to be Category IV recruits — those who scored between the 16th and 30th percentile in the battery of aptitude tests that the Defense Department gives to all potential military personnel.

The Army until now allowed no more than 2% of its recruiting class to be from the Category IV level, fearing that letting too many low-achieving recruits into the Army might dilute the quality of the nation’s largest military branch.

The continuing violence in Iraq has made the Army’s annual mission to bolster its ranks especially difficult in recent months. The Army fell nearly 7,000 recruits short of its goal for the 2005 fiscal year, which ended Friday. Army officials have said that recruiters might be faced with an even bigger challenge during the current fiscal year.

Harvey insisted that the Army was not lowering its standards but merely conforming to Department of Defense guidelines that allow up to 4% of each military service’s recruiting class to be Category IV troops.

Yet one Army official said that the policy change is also a concession to reality. The Army failed to meet its benchmark for 2005, and decided to widen the pool of recruits it could target during the 2006 fiscal year. The Army official spoke on condition of anonymity because the 2005 recruiting figures would not be formally announced until next week.

Not good at all. This is not the first time the bar has been lowered–it happens routinely during economic booms and other times the Army has difficulty recruiting–but the nature of modern warfare in general and counter-insurgency in particular demands smart soldiers who can make instantaneous decisions based on a wide number of constantly changing variables. Cat-IV soldiers are the least likely to be able to do that.


FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Military Affairs, Uncategorized, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    It’s no wonder that the Army fell short of its goal. Look at what a solder has to put up with today, A solder has to be a goody two shoes or some MSM reporter or some left wing looney organization wants to hang their rear ends on a pole. The enemy , on the other hand can maim, torture, behead prisoners at their will and get away with it. Now, we are starting to see the wackos protest with the likes of Cindy Sheehan and her kooky buddies. What next, Spitting on the troops when they come home.

    The war on terror is a dirty war and we need to start fighting it using the same so called rules the enemy is using.

    We need to tell Syria and Iran to clean up their act, an if they don’t, put a few nukes in the right place until they do.

    You can’t blame guys for not wanting to join the Army with all the wackos at home out to get them along with the enemy.

  2. LJD says:

    While I see your concern, I think “idiot” is a strong term for any one who volunteers to serve their country. They deserve better.

    I would not want a person of lower intellect behind me, on the trigger of 120mm. But not all who enlist will be using high tech equipment. The Army still needs potato peelers…

    Why not criticize the DOD standard, rather than those who enlist?

  3. Daniel says:

    After going through Basic this summer (B 2/46 Inf, Ft. Knox) I think it will be hard to tell. How well they did/did not do on the ASVAB is not always the best indicator of how good a soldier they are going to be. There are plenty of jobs in the Army where intelligence could be more of a liability that an asset (bored smart people can create much more epic scale incidents than dumb bored people).

  4. Kent says:

    I think the “potato peeler” comment was on-point. I doubt the Army wants dumb cannon fodder. However, modern military forces have an enormous logistical tail. Perhaps this is a logical place for less intellectually gifted soldiers. Just be sure to train them not to smoke around the gasoline tanker.