Northampton, MA — The Army filled its ranks in 2006 by ignoring its own benchmarks for recruitsâ€™ education standards, according to an analysis of 2006 military recruitment data released today by the National Priorities Project (NPP), a non-profit research organization that studies the local impact of federal policies.
According to the Armyâ€™s benchmark, 90 percent of new recruits should have a high school diploma. In 2006, 73 percent of all new recruits met this requirement, a drop of 13 percentage points since 2004.
â€œWhile President Bush talks about expanding the troops to fight the war in Iraq, the Army is already going after kids who havenâ€™t had the privilege of finishing high school,â€ said Anita Dancs, research director of the National Priorities Project. â€œIt appears that the Armyâ€™s ticket to recruitment success is finding young men and women with limited opportunities.â€
At the same time, 2006 Army recruits from wealthy neighborhoods — those with median household incomes of $60,000 and above — continued to be under-represented at about the same level as 2005 and more so than in 2004, according to the NPP analysis. The low- and middle-income neighborhoods were more over-represented than in 2004.
State and county military recruitment data and analysis are available at www.nationalpriorities.org/militaryrecruits06.
While the Army met its goals for new recruits in 2006, it did so with a significant drop in what the Department of Defense (DoD) deems to be â€˜high qualityâ€™ recruits. This qualification requires a high school diploma and a score of at least the 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. In 2006, according to the DoDâ€™s criteria, more than half of the ArmyÂ´s recruits for active-service duty were â€˜non-high quality,â€™ well below their 60 percent benchmark. The 47 percent of recruits who were â€˜high qualityâ€™ in 2006 is 14 percentage points lower than the 61 percent in 2004.
â€œThe answer to these inequities or shortfalls in military recruiting is not a draft,â€ Dancs continued. â€œInstead, we should be talking about how we can ensure these young people get a quality education and avoid this devilâ€™s choice by not engaging in wars of choice.â€.
The NPP analysis indicates that the states with the largest proportion of high-quality recruits were: North Dakota (59 percent), Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. All of those except for Nebraska and Wisconsin had recruiting rates (recruits per 1000 youth population) below the national average. None of these states had a proportion of high-quality recruits equal to the national average of 2004.
The states with the lowest proportion of high-quality recruits were: Mississippi (35 percent), Alabama (37 percent), Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Tennessee. Of those, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Rhode Island were below the national recruiting rate.