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The U.S. Military Index: Filling The Ranks

Last year, the Army had a shortage of 3,000 captains and majors, a deficit that is expected to double by 2010. Fifty-eight percent of the West Point class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation to serve expired in 2007. Reversing these and other troubling signs will be critical to improving the health of ...

Last year, the Army had a shortage of 3,000 captains and majors, a deficit that is expected to double by 2010. Fifty-eight percent of the West Point class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation to serve expired in 2007. Reversing these and other troubling signs will be critical to improving the health of the U.S. military.

Many proposals have been suggested to help the military meet its recruiting and retention needs. But an incredible percentage of the index’s officers favor the same solution: Nearly 80 percent support expanding options for legal, foreign permanent residents of the United States to serve in exchange for U.S. citizenship. A high percentage of officers, about 6 in 10, also support the idea of allowing more recruits who have a high school equivalency degree — but no diploma — to serve. Almost 40 percent favor reinstating the draft.

Almost none of the officers, however, say they support increasing the use of "moral waivers," which allow recruits with past criminal or drug convictions the opportunity to serve. In 2003, the Army handed out 4,644 of those waivers. Last year, that number nearly tripled, jumping to 12,057. If the opinions of the index’s officers are any indication, that shift may be a mistake.

Only 7 percent say they support the use of criminal, health, and other waivers to increase recruiting. In contrast, more than 20 percent say they support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly as a means to increase the recruiting pool. And nearly half say that the maximum age for recruits, already increased since 2006 to the age of 42, should be revised upward again. All of which suggests that, when it comes to fixing the shortfall in personnel, the Pentagon may not have its priorities straight.

Download the complete U.S. Military Index data:

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