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Quality of Army recruits remains high

More than 60 percent of the recruits came from the top half of mental-aptitude categories

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 13, 2006) - The Army has filled its ranks without sacrificing quality, DoD's top personnel official told reporters July 11.

Active-duty and reserve components met recruiting goals in June for the 13th month in a row, said David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The Army reached 102 percent of its recruiting goal, enlisting more than 8,700 Soldiers. The National Guard recruited more than 5,800 Soldiers, 101 percent of its goal. The Army reserve also exceeded its goal by 21 percent, recruiting more than 5,600 members.

Chu called the fact that the military can fill the ranks of its volunteer force a testament to young peoples' desire to serve.

"I think it's an antidote to those who question the willingness of young Americans to put someone else before themselves, to put some larger cause first," he said.

More than 60 percent of the recruits came from the top half of mental-aptitude categories. More than 90 percent have a high-school diploma, which "is the best predictor, we've found over many years of experience, that recruits will stay through their first enlistment," Chu said.

Chu said he is not disturbed by the increase in "category 4" personnel joining the Army. These recruits score in the lowest category of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery tests.

The Army recruits no more than 4 percent of its force from this category, meeting the DoD benchmark, explained Doug Smith, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Recruiting Command. For many years, the Army had a self-imposed 2-percent limit, he said, but raised it to 4 percent in 2005.

This stands in sharp contrast to the late 1970s, when as many as 45 percent of Army recruits could be drawn from category 4. Congress imposed a cap of 25 percent of new recruits in that category in fiscal 1981, then lowered the ceiling to 20 percent in fiscal 1983, according to Bob Clark, DoD's assistant director for accessions policy.

Chu said no one is looking to change the recruiting standards that have served the military so well.

"The standards have not changed. They are not going to change," he said. "We aim for the department as a whole to have 90 percent of our new recruits ... be high school diploma graduates. We aim to have 60 percent score in the upper half of the mental distribution." And the department will insist on high moral standards, he said.

"Quality pays off" in varied ways, Chu said. "Quality pays off in ability to deal with difficult situations. Quality pays off in ingenuity in solving problems. Quality pays off in figuring out ... 'what did the lieutenant mean by those orders anyway?'"

The task now is to continue progress in the months ahead, he said.

"Obviously, recruiting is a bit like watching a high-wire performer," Chu said. "It's wonderful that we have done well so far, but there's always the challenge of tomorrow.

As of June 30, the Army had exceeded its year-to-date active-duty recruiting goal by 4 percent. The National Guard exceeded its goal by 3 percent, and the Army Reserve exceeded its goal by 1 percent.

(Editor's note: Compiled from reports by the American Forces Press Service.)

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