RECRUTING AND MORALE
Tom Bevan notes that despite all the hubbub over low troop morale and constant bad news about soldiers getting killed in Iraq, military recruiting is steady or even up. (Many links on all this.)
Very interesting indeed. I’m guessing two things explain this: First, contrary to the myth that people join the military primarily for college benefits and whatnot, the fact is that young men are attracted to the service at least partly out of a sense of adventure and wanting to be part of something important. Recruiting was difficult during the 1970s and 1980s at least partly because being a soldier meant a lot of boring garrison duty. Second, given the downsizing of our force in the Cold War aftermath, the recruitment targets are rather low, so the quotas are likely going to be filled regardless. When the economy is booming and other variables make joining the military less appealing, the applicant pool is smaller and recruiters are less picky. (A little overweight? No high school diploma? Smoked a little weed three years ago? We can grant you a waiver!) If people are lining up outside the recruiting office, the reverse is true.