Friday, May 13, 2005

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

A recruitment center is shot at. In Baghdad? Faluja? No, it was in Colorado and it’s just the latest in a string of troubles for Military recruiters.

For some reason, people just aren’t signing up like the military would like. For the Army, this was the third straight month it missed recruiting targets. Figures for May are projected to fall short again. The Army is 15 percent behind its goals for the fiscal year, now over halfway through. For the Marines, April was the fourth straight month of missed targets. Both the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard have consistently fallen short of goals for several months. "The problem is that no one wants to join," a recruiter said. "We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by."

“Fast and loose” means telling possible recruits how to cheat on drug tests and where to get a fake High School diploma. That’s what was secretly recorded by a high school student doing some investigative reporting. The Army itself reports a sharp increase in substantiated cases of recruitment improprieties over the past several years—from 199 in 1999 to 320 in 2004. The number of recruiters investigated rose to 1,118—nearly 20 percent of all Army recruiters. In addition to cheating on tests and hiding records, offenses included incidents in which recruiters threatened enlistees or falsely promised them that they would not be sent to Iraq if they entered the Army. The Army currently is investigating 480 allegations of improper conduct by Army recruiters this fiscal year. The military is going to take a day of from recruiting for "values training."

Recruitment is now so difficult, the US Army has widened a scheme to offer would-be soldiers the option to sign up for just 15 months. But at the same time, The Pentagon has enacting "stop loss" policies that prevent some soldiers from leaving the military. They have tapped the Individual Ready Reserve, soldiers who thought they had severed ties with the military years ago. Critics have said these policies are part of a "back door draft."

Is anybody surprised that recruitment is down, when 1616 soldiers have died in Iraq so far? And remember the body armor that Rumsfeld promised the troops? Some soldiers only have the armor thanks to family and friends. And the Marine Corps just recalled 5,277 body-armor vests. In all, the Marines bought about 19,000 Interceptor outer tactical vests from Point Blank Body Armor that failed government tests due to "multiple complete penetrations" of 9 mm pistol rounds and other ballistic or quality-assurance tests. After being questioned about the safety flaws for this story, the Marines ordered the recall of 5,277 Interceptor vests on Wednesday. The Corps has not said what it intends to do with more than 4,000 vests still in use.


Post a Comment

<< Home