Thursday, October 06, 2005

US Military Recruits--Getting Dumber?

Smart story on Slate about an ominous US Military decision to lower the academic and mental aptitude standards for its recruits. They're doing this because they're running way low on recruits (my next Voice column is about the counterrecruitment movement, which takes some credit for that). Currently, contrary to popular perception, the ranks of the Army are comparable in racial/ethnic mix and academic achievement to the population of 18-24 year olds as a whole (although the recruits do differ from the gen population in geographic distribution, of course gender proportion, and most importantly class.)

The unpopularity of the war has forced the military into a corner. Either lower the quality of recruits (which they're trying now) introduce a draft (which Fred Kaplan says could happen only in a "genuine national emergency"-it may be sooner than we think) or go to the Bush administration and say we can't maintain current military commitments. What you would prefer may depend on the probability that you might find yourself on the front lines.

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