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U.S. Army is Ready to Shrink Their Size and Increase Their Standards

U.S. Army is Ready to Shrink Their Size and Increase Their Standards

In 2006, the United States was facing two wars on two different fronts. After the initial influx of people enlisting to support the effort, the U.S. Army’s recruitment efforts were hampered by the needs of two wars and a dwindling supply of willing suitable recruits. As a result, the Army lowered its standards for potential soldiers.

That year, the Army began issuing waivers for people who would not normally qualify for service. This included increasing the percentage of recruits that had low scoring aptitude tests, as well as those who received waivers for moral and medical reasons. Moral waivers would be for things like misdemeanor arrests and criminal behavior (including robbery and manslaughter). Medical waivers would include previous drug and alcohol problems, including previously failed drug tests.

The Army also traditionally gave signing bonuses, amounting to a few thousand dollars for highly technical positions and those requiring specific skills. To boost enlistment, the number of positions that qualified for bonuses increased, as well as the dollar amounts, increased dramatically, with some bonuses as high as $18,000. Other standards, such as certain tattoos, age and fitness were also lowered over time in order to keep up with the personnel demands.

With the changes came criticism that the normally high standards of the Army were being compromised unnecessarily. The Army’s official line was they understood that “everyone makes mistakes” and such things as testing aren’t always an accurate assessment of a person’s capabilities. Not to mention, recruitment is always hard during a time of war.

The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 brought in hope that an end to the wars would be a real possibility. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the United States would officially declare the end of the Iraq War. It also marked the beginning of the end of the Army’s lax policies.

Beginning in April 2012, new grooming regulations were issued for soldiers that addressed everything from men’s sideburns and beards to women’s makeup and manicures to banning things like gold teeth. Failure to comply with the new standards would result in punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They then addressed several of the changes regarding new recruits. Previous misdemeanors and criminal records were no longer ignored and would make a recruit ineligible for enlistment. They also lowered the maximum enlistment age back down to 34, having previously raised it to 42 during the height of the conflicts. Scores on the aptitude test also had to be higher in order to be accepted and the sky-high signing bonuses disappeared.

Now they are tightening the standards even more.

With the anticipated troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and recent budget cuts, the Pentagon announced in February efforts to reduce troop size to pre-World War II levels. In response, the Army began creating new standards that make it harder to enlist and, this time, to even remain in the Army. In March, new grooming standards were, once again, introduced. In addition to controversial hair standards for women, they also focused on tattoos, particularly those that could not be covered up with the uniform, such as on the neck, wrist or hands. These tattoos had been previously allowed for those that enlisted during the more lax standards.

While they will be grandfathered in and be allowed to remain, they will not be allowed to move up in the ranks.

Non-commissioned soldiers (soldiers that are not officers) with the now banned tattoos cannot request or be appointed to be commissioned to officer or warrant from the enlisted ranks. It is now harder for higher ranking enlisted soldiers to reenlist. Those with negative marks on their records will not be allowed to remain. Those that do have the option to reenlist may be required to retrain for other jobs in order to continue serving. The Army admits that many qualified soldiers may not be able to remain on active duty.

They also can afford to be more selective now that there isn’t such a demand for personnel.

There is little doubt that most of the men and women serving in the military have performed their duties with great skill and pride and will continue to do so. Nevertheless, the lowered standards in the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are blamed for many of the Army’s ills of the past decade, including the high prevalence of those with pre-existing mental health issues.  The new standards are designed to reduce the ranks to the best of the best – just as it was meant to be.

As for those who would like to serve their country in the military, the Army encourages potential soldiers to “score as high as possible on the ASVAB, the basic assessment for the military, be in the best shape possible, and be flexible about job assignment to boost chances of acceptance.”

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63 comments

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7:14PM PDT on May 3, 2014

those willing to subjugate themselves and their sanity to the cause, which is insane in itself, because seldom does war solve anything, as we all should know by now.

7:04PM PDT on May 3, 2014

The MIC will need another infusion of cash in the not to distant future, so another war will be on the way, under some other bogus pretext, like so many of the wars that have been since WWII. Nothing like having a professional warrior electrocuted in a shower erected by a war contractor or blown up in cheaply built vehicle never intended to withstand the blast in the first place.
Nicklaus K: What if they gave a war tomorrow and nobody came? I remember hearing that phrase forty years ago. Unfortunately, there are still

1:07PM PDT on May 3, 2014

Hallelujah!!!!!

I realize being a soldier is a very tough job indeed but we need to make sure we are taking only those who can mentally and physically hold up under the conditions they will face.

I also wish they would only take those without spouses and children. To me it's kind of selfish to leave a spouse and/or children behind knowing you might well not return. While I understand that to some serving their country is really important to them, I don't think it makes up for what families go through.

3:22AM PDT on May 3, 2014

As a child so intelligently put to a veteran who could only cry in response to her question.
If they had a war tomorrow and nobody came ,what would happen?

3:17AM PDT on May 3, 2014

The army can postulate all it likes about downsizing and improving its standards when the main standard that will never change, This is its Generals arse licking the banksters while sending young men and women off to be killed for Mammon.

9:34PM PDT on May 2, 2014

We were 'facing' two wars . . .? B------t!!!! We STARTED two wars, one of 'em out of pure military-industrial axis of evil choice, based on a bunch of lies and distortion. When we diverted our resources to that one (IRAQ) we really started losing the other one, where we maybe had a bee's fart worth of justification, and now we basically have lost both wars. Despite all the vast sums of money, and all the fancy weaponry, we are losing/HAVE LOST both those wars, to third world nations. Just like "Nam. And just like "Nam, we have a boggling amount of national debt (incurred for nothin'), and a staggering number of veterans with psychological wounds that make it really hard for them to integrate back into normal society. Lots of them become policemen, and are now treating Americans the same brutal way they treated Iraqis and Afghanis. What a bargain for several trillion and many lives . . .

Seems to me that the standards that need to be raised more than any are those of the people we elect/select to lead us into these disasters. Forget the tattoos . . .

12:19PM PDT on May 2, 2014

Thanks for the article.

11:35AM PDT on May 2, 2014

YOu are correct David N the problem is we dont go anywhere intending to win anymore. EWRe go with the intention of occupying. We could have easily won the Viet Nam war. But that would have shut down the cash cow the Military industrial complex had going. They make no money WINNING they make money OCCUPYING!

Winning is no longer part of our strategy.

1:41AM PDT on May 2, 2014

Noted. Thanks

1:08AM PDT on May 2, 2014

ty

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