Most Youth Ineligible for Army
The Army’s pool of eligible recruits is shrinking.
Close to three-quarters of American youth are ineligible to serve in the Army and patriotism among the country’s recruitable population has been sliding since 2002. That was the assessment of a series of recent surveys conducted in fiscal 2006 and early fiscal 2007 by the Army’s Center for Accessions Research and presented Thursday by Gen. William S. Wallace, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command. “It’s an Army problem, but it’s also a national problem,” said Wallace, who presented a slice of the report at the winter meeting of the Association of the United States Army.
According to Wallace, only 27 percent of youth between the ages of 17 and 24 are eligible for recruiting. The remaining 73 percent, he said, “are morally, intellectually or physically” unfit for service. “It’s the lowest it’s been in more than 10 years.”
I’m curious to see what the breakdown is. Presumably, there are as many or more high school graduates now. So, my guess is that either more people are experimenting with illicit drugs or are too fat. (I called the Center for Accessions Research and was told I’d need to contact the Army Public Affairs office, which I have. I’ll update if I get hard data.)
Wallace has another problem:
College, he said, is now the preferred post-high school activity and youths surveyed said they perceived the Army as “ordinary.” According to Wallace, those surveyed considered the Marine Corps “elite but dangerous.” They considered the Navy “somewhat elite but safer” and the Air Force was considered “elite and highly technical.”
That’s probably not an unreasonable perception, really, depending on how one defines “elite.” Clearly, the Air Force and Navy are more technically oriented than the Army and the Marines are generally more physically demanding. The Army is by far the biggest service and almost certainly the one with the most variety of missions and standards.
Given that we have an all-volunteer force and are in the middle of a long war, recruiting is naturally difficult. One would think that if one’s goal were front-line combat, the Marines would be the most appealing and that if one wanted the benefits of military service while minimizing the risk of bodily harm, the Navy and Air Force are the logical choices. The Army, then, is in something of a no-man’s land.
via email tip from Bill Jempty