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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Iraq War is Degrading Our Armed Forces


We long ago substituted a "poverty draft" for a conscriptive draft. Our Armed Forces benefited from the fact that young people from poor families had few options in this country other than military service to escape poverty. That's was okay for them during peace time, but now that we have the "Endless War on Terrorism" being directed largely by rich, white men who nearly all could and did avoid military service, conditions have changed as noted in this article on Slate.

GI Schmo
How low can Army recruiters go?
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Monday, Jan. 9, 2006, at 5:06 PM ET


Three months ago, I wrote that the war in Iraq was wrecking the U.S. Army, and since then the evidence has only mounted, steeply. Faced with repeated failures to meet its recruitment targets, the Army has had to lower its standards dramatically. First it relaxed restrictions against high-school drop-outs. Then it started letting in more applicants who score in the lowest third on the armed forces aptitude test—a group, known as Category IV recruits, who have been kept to exceedingly small numbers, as a matter of firm policy, for the past 20 years. (There is also a Category V—those who score in the lowest 10th percentile. They have always been ineligible for service in the armed forces and, presumably, always will be.)

The bad news is twofold. First, the number of Category IV recruits is starting to skyrocket. Second, a new study compellingly demonstrates that, in all realms of military activity, intelligence does matter. Smarter soldiers and units perform their tasks better; dumber ones do theirs worse.

Until just last year, the Army had no trouble attracting recruits and therefore no need to dip into the dregs. As late as 2004, fully 92 percent of new Army recruits had graduated high school and just 0.6 percent scored Category IV on the military aptitude test.

"GI Schmo"

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Lynn Green said...

I enjoyed reading your story about the "honeymooners", you don't have a place for coments or an e-mail address, so I will have to post my remarks here.