Pentagon lowers standards amid biggest enlistment shortfall this year since 1973
The U.S. Army has cleared 700 recruits with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to enlist, after rewriting its rules about medical conditions barring applicants from enlisting, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. .
The 700 trainees were hired following an Army decision in June allowing those with 38 medical conditions to enlist, provided they did not show symptoms or need treatment. for three to seven years before committing. These conditions – which include congenital heart defects and tuberculosis – were previously automatic disqualifiers.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told the Wall Street Journal that the branch would assess the effectiveness of the program after one year of service by recruits.
“We want to be careful” Wormuth said, referring to hiring people with mental health issues. “I think we have to constantly renew our approach and look at the conditions of this society.”
The US military is currently hiring an increasingly unfit population, with only 23% of young Americans meeting its fitness standards, Wormuth told CNBC in October. Moreover, only 9% of those 16-21 year olds are interested in joining in the first place, she added.
This decline in physical condition, exacerbated by a Covid-19 vaccine mandate and more enticing private sector job offers, has led the army to have its worst recruiting year this year since conscription was abolished in 1973. , according to Wormuth. By the end of fiscal year 2022, the Army had lost 15,000 soldiers from its target of 60,000, a shortfall of 25%.
The Navy and Marine Corps are also struggling to meet recruiting targets. The Marine Corps has typically achieved about half of its target at the start of each fiscal year, but had only achieved about 30 percent for 2023 as of early October. Meanwhile, the Navy, which usually opens the fiscal year at about 25% recruiting, announced 10% of the goal in October, officials told The Associated Press.
Previous attempts by the Pentagon to lower standards have been harshly criticized. High school dropouts and drug convicts received waivers to enroll during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to increased mental health issues and suicides in the ranks.
Decades earlier, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara recruited up to 320,000 unfit and low-IQ soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen at the height of the Vietnam War. These substandard service members were unflatteringly dubbed “McNamara’s morons” by the media at the time.
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