Significant Gap in Army's Quality and Quantity Goals
The U.S. Army has called for an additional 65,000 recruits over the
coming years. Yet in spite of aggressive recruitment efforts, the
Army again missed its quality benchmarks in Fiscal Year 2008. Today
NPP updates its annual report on Army recruitment, with Part I of its
analysis of Fiscal Year 2008 Army recruiting, and provides access to
data by state, county and ZIP Code.
The Iraq War began to have an impact on recruiting in 2005 when the
Army missed its goal for the number of recruits. Despite increases
in spending on recruitment and advertising such as new arcade games
designed to draw more youth into the Army, the Army has failed to
meet its benchmark for the level of educational attainment of
recruits for the fourth year in a row. The percentage of recruits
with high school diplomas reported in early October by the Department
of Defense was considerably greater than what the data actually
show. This difference is due to the Army's reporting on the number
of "contracts" rather than the number of "accessions" with high
school diplomas. Contracts are recorded at the time of sign-up,
whereas accessions are those who actually enlist. Each year there
are losses of individuals who, despite signing the contract, do not
end up enlisting. Because of this, NPP requested zip code level data
on accessions from the Army, and this report is based on those numbers.
The percentage of recruits the Department of Defense (DoD) considers
'high quality,' while up over Fiscal Year 2007, has also dropped
considerably over recent years. Given that 'high quality' is an
indicator of commitment and the likelihood of success, this means
that a higher percentage of recruits will drop out well before the
end of the first term of enlistment, leading to further increases in
spending on recruitment and training, including enlistment bonuses
and pay for additional recruiters.
This analysis is based on data obtained from the Department of
Defense (Army Recruiting Command) through a Freedom of Information
Act request submitted by the National Priorities Project. The
Department of Defense provided the data for every non-prior service,
active-duty Army accession by ZIP Code with race, ethnicity, gender,
birth date, citizenship, educational attainment and score on the
Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) for Fiscal Year 2008.
Demographic data used in the study were purchased from Claritas, a
leading marketing and demographic data company. Population estimates
from the Census Bureau were also used. To access the data by state,
county, or zip code, go to the NPP
Database. http://www.nationalpriorities.org/nppdatabase_tool This
analysis of Army recruiting in Fiscal Year 2008 is the National
Priorities Project's fifth study on military recruiting. The data and
statistics for 2008 are compared to earlier studies done by NPP where relevant.
Forthcoming analyses of race and neighborhood income of recruits are
scheduled for release in February.
Gap in 'educational attaiment' and 'high quality' recruits continues
For the fourth consecutive year, the Army missed DoD benchmarks set
for educational attainment and scores on the Armed Forces
Qualification Test. The DoD has a goal that 90 percent of new
recruits have a regular high school diploma or better. According to
what the DoD says is "more than 40 years of studies," around 80
percent of those with regular high school diplomas will finish the
first term of enlistment. Up to half of those with a GED, other
alternative equivalency credential, or no credential will drop out
during the first term of enlistment. Having a regular high school
diploma is the single best predictor of successful completion of a
first term of enlistment.
High proportions of recruits dropping out during the first term of
enlistment has serious consequences. In order to maintain
end-strength, more recruits will be needed in future years. More
personnel and money will need to be devoted to recruiting. Money,
time and other resources spent on training recruits who drop out is lost.
The DoD classifies military recruits according to educational
attainment in 'Tiers.' Tier 1 recruits are those with at least a
regular high school diploma. The proportion of active-duty Army
recruits in Tier 1, while increasing by nearly 3 percentage points
over 2007 levels, has dropped from 83.5 percent in 2005 to 73.8
percent in 2008.
States with the lowest percentages of Tier 1 recruits were Wyoming
with 59.3 percent, Nevada with 59.7 percent, and Rhode Island with
62.3 percent. See Table 1 for more data on educational levels by state.
Armed Forces Qualification Test
All recruits take the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) which is
normalized for the youth population. The test score indicates
trainability. Those in Categories I and II tend to be above average
in trainability; those in Category IIIA and IIIB are average; those
in IV are below average; those in Category V are markedly below average.
Until 2006, the DoD's goal was a minimum of 67 percent of recruits
testing at least in the 50th percentile of the AFQT, with performance
falling into categories I IIIA. That goal has since been lowered to
60 percent. This allowed the Army to meet its goal, with 62.1
percent of new recruits testing in those categories in 2008 and 60.8
percent in 2007.
The DoD attempted to cap Category IV recruits to less than 2 percent,
but recently raised the cap to 4 percent. Historically, this has not
been a problem, but since 2005, the percentage of Category IV
recruits has been at least 4 percent. In 2007, it was 4.1
percent. Fiscal Year 2008 was the first year the Army met that new
goal, with 3.5 percent testing in IV and V categories.
The Department of Defense defines a 'high quality' recruit based on a
combination of educational attainment and AFQT score. A 'high
quality' recruit is one who scores at or above the 50th percentile on
the AFQT (Categories I-IIIA), and who is Tier 1 (has a regular high
school diploma or better). The DoD strives to have all recruits be
'high quality' as these recruits will be more likely to complete
contracted enlistment terms and perform better in training and on the
job. The percentage of 'high quality' recruits dropped from 56.2
percent in 2005, to 46.6 percent in 2006, and then to 44.6 percent
and in 2007. In 2008, the percentage increased to 45.3 percent.
The District of Columbia had the lowest percentage of 'high quality'
recruits, with 30 percent, followed by Mississippi with 34.1 percent,
and Louisiana with 36.6 percent. See Table 2 for more on quality by state.
The South continues to have the lowest percentage of high quality
recruits, and the midwest has the highest.
Overall Recruitment Rates
Recruitment rates are defined as the number of recruits per 1000
youth ages 15-24. NPP calculates recruitment rates for the US as a
whole, and by region, state, and county.
In Fiscal Year 2008, the overall recruitment rate of 1.60 Active-duty
Army recruits per thousand youth was up only slightly from the 2007
rate of 1.59. The South region continues to have the highest
recruitment rate, while the Northeast has the lowest. See Table 3
for more information by region.
When youth population is taken into account, a disproportionate
number of recruits come from southern states, and southern counties
are well represented among the top 100 counties ranked by recruitment
rates. Table 4 lists recruitment rates by state, and Table 6 gives
the top 100 counties ranked by recruits per thousand youth. More
information on particular counties can be found on the NPP database.
Four years of the Army's lower standards of quality, along with the
upward trend in spending on recruiting and advertising, underscores
the extent to which the Army has exhausted its potential supply of
new quality recruits. This is also evidenced by the increases in
physical and felony waivers, the latter having doubled from 2006 to
2007. All this, when combined with the Army's goal of increasing
recruits by 65,000, indicates that it is well past time to look at
the realities of an ever-expanding military. A new approach to
national security - one that recognizes the link between the presence
of US troops around the globe and the pursuit of fossil fuels - is
what is called for. The global security lessons learned in these
years point directly to the need for a new national strategy.
Making the Connection with an Energy Strategy
In October 2008, NPP released a ground-breaking
study http://www.nationalpriorities.org/Energy_Security which found
that upwards of 30 percent of the U.S. Military budget is spent
securing and safeguarding the transport of petroleum. As the United
States begins pursuing a renewable energy strategy in earnest, we
must consider whether an expanded military is at all necessary -- if
not a backwards notion.
Table 1: Educational Attainment, FY 2008
Table 2: High Quality, FY 2008
Table 3: Active-duty Army Recruits per 1000 Youth, by Region, FY 2005 - 2008
Table 4: Active-duty Army Recruits Per Thousand Youth, by State, FY 2008
Table 5: Active-duty Army Recruits: Top 100 Counties, FY 2008
Table 6: Active-duty Army Recruits: Top 100 Counties by Recruitment
Rate, FY 2008