Monday, July 10, 2006

This Man's Army

From the morning headlines, two stories jumped out at me:

First, fresh new charges that even more American soldiers are facing charges of murder and rape of Iraqi civilians. These horrific acts make the antics at Abu Garib seem almost playful. That heinous mouth-breather, Pfc. Steven Green, was brought in last week as the chief instigator in this crime, specifically, the slaughter of an Iraqi man, woman and child and the rape of a 14-year-old girl from the same family. They killed her too, of course. The fact that Green was shown in handcuffs wearing a Johnny Cash t-shirt only made it more painful to watch.

Meanwhile ... seems the Army has surpassed their recruitment numbers for fiscal 2006 thus far! The top brass are ever so pleased since the securement of expendable young flesh was frightfully low in 2005. How did they do it? What's their magical secret? Apparently, the big brass in khaki took a page right out of the modern dating handbook: If you're getting desperate, for god's sake, lower your standards.

For one thing, the Army raised the maximum enlistment age to 42, which is so progressive really, so anti-ageist. Seems that those who grew up on Van Halen and Tears for Fears bleed just as easily as those who have never known life without a remote control.

With one margin widened, the Army just went for it - reaching lower and lower into the humanity bucket. Since the 80s, the Department of Defense has declared that no more than 2% of incoming recruits may score below 30 out of 99 on the Army's aptitude test. Last September, the Pentagon raised the limit to 4%. Let's be clear - this means dumber soldiers. A Rand Corp. study in 2005 (commissioned by Rumsfeld, no less) found that higher scoring recruits produced better results on the battlefield. Thank god for these studies or we'd have trouble noting the obvious...

But wait, there's more.

Snagging warm, willing bodies at last, the Army became drunk with diminishing their own qualifiers. They began accepting more recruits that require 'moral waivers' because of misdemeanor offenses. Through April, 15.5% of recruits required some kind of excuse for these offenses, drug/alcohol incidents or medical problems, compared with 12% for 2004.

So, there ya have it - the secret to the Army's 'success' and how it is panning out in the field. One thing is for sure, the recruits of today certainly do not lack balls. Tom Mahnken, a professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in DC was recently quoted: "These are people who are signing up and going in with their eyes wide open about the fact that they will be sent to war."

God help us all.


Ms. Liberty said...

Excellent post, as usual, and so very, very sad. thanks for putting to word what we are all feeling.

We are in such a very sad place now with leadership taking us further to a place of shame. That's a tough place to be, and a tougher place to get out of.

Howard said...

Yeah, this doesn't surprise me at all. I scored a 99 on the Navy's aptitude and they were BEGGING me to join the nuclear program since I was soooo smart. I chose Jounalism as my field in which I won or helped win our broadcast detachment 8 or 9 Naval awards and 4 all service awards.

Two weeks before it was discovered that I was a hedonistic homosexual, my station manager, a Warrant Officer who looked like Ross Perot, told me that I was the most talented broadcaster he had seen in 20 years. Two weeks later I was an embarassment to his detachment.

So even back between 1987 - 1990 they were doing the same thing. Keeping the unintelligent ones and getting rid of some of their best because of the consenting adults they slept with. Oh, here's the best. There was a guy in my detachment who raped a girl and all he got was a slap on the wrist and a transfer. I hurt no one I have sex with and I get kicked out and have my unemployment and the money I saved up for their college fund taken away.

The thing is the smart ones at this point know there is no reason for us to be over there that we've been truthfully told and the smart ones who are over there are either dead or trying to get the hell out.

I love that they raised the age limit. I'm back to being eligible to volunteer again. Oh, wait. I'm sorry. I had to sign a form saying that I would never volunteer again because I'm all gay and shit.

And what's wrong with Tears For Fears?

Fang Bastardson said...

The Johnny Cash t-shirt perp-walk, yeah, that was rough.

I kinda disagree that this is worse than Abu Ghraib, though. Every atrocity that comes to light is just one more ugly piece in the tapestry that is our Excellent Adventure in Iraq. The fact that this particular atrocity has sneaked out into the light of day suggests to me how many unknown others that we don't know about yet or never will.

With recruitment standards at an all-time low as you report, and our incursion open-ended, these kind of stories have only just begun.