The need for the Army to lower its standards to allow in recruits who otherwise would have been rejected set the Army on bad trajectory. It was possible, of course nothing would come of it as these now-acceptable kids would be reformed by the Army. Indications of the types of kids they were bringing, or seeking to, was seen in the decision to allow previously prohibited inked necks and hands (while interestingly at the same time the People's Liberation Army restricted its tattoo policy).
The kid at the center of the Haditha rape and murder? He's one who got in with the lowered expectations. From the New York Times:
On the last day of January 2005, Steven D. Green, the former Army private accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family, sat in a Texas jail on alcohol-possession charges, an unemployed 19-year-old high school dropout who had just racked up his third misdemeanor conviction.
Days later, Mr. Green enlisted in a soldier-strapped Army, and was later assigned to a star-crossed unit to serve on an especially murderous patch of earth.
He arrived at the very moment that the Army was increasing by nearly half the rate at which it granted what it calls ''moral waivers'' to potential recruits. The change opened the ranks to more people like Mr. Green, those with minor criminal records and weak educational backgrounds. In Mr. Green's case, his problems were emerging by junior high school, say people who knew him then.
Does he alone give reason to raise the bar again? Of course not, but he's not alone and there may be other warning signs of "necessarily" relaxed recruiting (and retention) policies: More Neo-Nazis in the Military?
The number of neo-Nazis and skinheads in the armed forces is increasing, according to a watchdog group that claims the military is relaxing standards amid pressure to sign up recruits during the Iraq war.
We have the best military in the world using any metric, but bad policy will impact the real value of its ability to get the job done. This job is increasingly not kinetic and requires a caliber of soldier that barrel scraping won't deliver. Is Up-or-Out and outsourcing the best long-term solution when we having men and women looking to serve their country?