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.