Saturday, November 5, 2016
Lowering Standards in the United States Military
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
Defense Secretary Ash Carter launched a sweeping review of the military's recruiting standards that may involve relaxed rules on everything from single-parent enlistees to drug use and obesity. He believes the current standards for screening new recruits are “overly restrictive” and preventing America's most talented young people from joining the ranks.
Carter’s proposal is the latest of his “Force of the Future” personnel reforms. Secretary Carter is concerned that Obama’s military is ill-equipped to recruit and retain the top talent needed for future missions. Of course, Carter ignores the elephant in the room; that being Obama’s social programs are not only effecting combat readiness, but never ending deployments are discouraging talented service members from considering making the military a career. Mr. Carter believes that the military will have to maintain high standards with compromises! That is, recruitment rules must not be unnecessarily restrictive.
The secretary announced a $140 million advertising campaign to improve the military’s brand among young people throughout all regions of the United States and to improve ROTC programs that provide 40 percent of incoming military officers. Currently America’s military recruiting pool is shrinking as future recruits are joining from fewer states. New recruits are twice as likely to join from rural areas as opposed to urban. Carter is hoping to enlist more recruits from urban areas to draw talent from the country’s entire population.
The review was driven by several active-duty military recruiters, worried that today’s force is turning away people with critical skills because they fail to meet specific individual requirements. In other words, the recruiters are unable to meet their quotas. Nevertheless, the military will have a difficult time accepting a 300-pound recruit that may be a potential health risk. And Basic Training is hardly a good environment for drug rehab!
The secretary believes that “today’s military mission has changed, relying less on traditional infantry operations and more on technical skills needed for jobs like cyber warfare and intelligence analysis.”
Why is Carter trying to reform enlistment requirements?
His legacy of course. Secretary Carter will stepdown in January when Mr. Obama leaves the White House and he wants personnel reforms to be the centerpiece of his two years in the Pentagon’s top office.
Earlier this year, the secretary introduced reforms aimed at boosting retention, including expansion of family-friendly benefits like parental leave and child care services.
Sounds good, yet a key indicator of interest in military service is derived from the Pentagon’s “propensity” poll. Young people from 16 to 21 are polled on “How likely is it that you will be serving in the military in the next few years?” The result of “probably” or “definitely” was pegged at 19 percent in the poll conducted last fall.
So under Carter’s watch, potential interest in military service is 4% lower than the 23 percent in late 2003. Carter’s “people” focus and the pushing of politically correct social programs have affected the most important measure of the military: Combat readiness.