The Army is the largest of the military services, and is currently increasing in size by about 30,000 active duty Soldiers between 2005 and 2013. As such, they need to recruit about 80,000 new recruits per year, making for a very challenging recruiting environment. In order to meet their goals, the Army has decreased their recruiting standards, and offers more enlistment incentives than any of the other branches.
In past years, the Army struggled to meet their recruiting goals. In fact, they significantly reduced standards in order to keep recruiting numbers up. In 2006, the Army has raised their enlistment age limit from 34 to 42. In 2008, they allowed far more recruits to join with a GED, than any of the other branches. They even established a special program, called Army Prep School, that allows individuals to enlist who have no high school diploma or GED, then earn a GED before attending basic training. In Fiscal Year 2008, only 83 percent of new Army recruits had a high school diploma (or at least 15 college credits), comparted with the Department of Defense (DOD) average of 92 percent. The Army requires a minimum ASVAB score of 31 to enlist, the lowest of all the service branches. In FY 2008, only 62 percent of new recruits had an AFQT (overall ASVAB) score of 50 or more, compared to the DOD average of 69 percent. Also in 2008, the Army approved far more medical waivers and criminal history waivers (including non-violent juvenile felonies) than any of the other branches, by far.
All of this changed during 2009. Probably, due in large part to increased advertising funds, enlistment bonuses, and the poor civilian job economy, applicants began to flood Army recruiting offices, and they could afford to become more "picky." In March 2009, the Army stopped approving almost all juvenile felony criminal history waivers. During the past three or four months of Fiscal Year 2009 (which ran from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009), the Army stopped approving almost all criminal history waivers, except for minor traffic tickets. They also put a freeze on accepting applicants with GEDs, and suspended operations at the Army Prep School. As a result, in FY 2009, 94 percent of new Army recruits had a high school diploma or at least 15 college credits.
In FY 2009, only 0.31 percent of new Army recruits received a criminal history waiver for serious misconduct, compared to 0.40 percent the previous year.
While exact figures are not available, the Army reportedly increased the percentage of new recruits who scored a 50 or better on the ASVAB AFQT, than the 2008 statistics.
How long this trend will continue is anyone's guess. I imagine that the Army will enjoy high recruiting success as long as the civilian economy problems and high unemployment rate continues.
Want to read more about the pros and cons of choosing the Army?
- Enlistment Incentives
- Job Opportunities
- Basic Training
- Assignment Opportunities
- Quality of Life
- Promotion Opportunities
- Educational Opportunities
- Enlisted Commissioning Programs
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