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Recruiting Violations

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Updated August 28, 2006

Despite the fact that the number of new recruits who joined the military service has declined from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2005, the number of reported recruiting violations has increased by more than 50 percent, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which was released on August 14.

During fiscal year 2004 there were 4,400 reports of recruiter violations. This rose to 6,600 cases in fiscal year 2005. Substantiated cases increased from 400 to almost 630. The GAO report stated that the number of recruiter violations considered by the services to be criminal increased from 33 to 68

The number of alleged and substantiated violations by U.S. military recruiters increased by more than 50 percent in one year, a rise that may reflect growing pressure to meet wartime recruiting goals, according to a Government Accountability Office report released yesterday.

Allegations of wrongdoing by military recruitment personnel rose from 4,400 cases in fiscal 2004 to 6,600 cases in fiscal 2005, with substantiated cases increasing from 400 to 629, according to the report. These cases included substantiated instances of recruiter harassment, coercion or falsifying documents.

The number of cases found to be criminal violations more than doubled, from 33 to 68. The Army doubled criminal recruiting violations from 19 in 2004 to 38 in 2005. The Navy had one in 2004 and 13 in 2005. However, the report notes that nine of those cases stemmed from a single investigation (in 2005 a Navy investigation found several recruiters involved in a plan to forge home schooling documents for recruits without a high school diploma). The Marine Corps had none in 2004 and 2 in 2005, while the Air Force had 11 in 2004 and 12 in 2005.

The GAO report does note that some of the increase in reported violations may be due to a new Air Force tracking system for recruiter violation reports. But the report also notes that the Department of Defense as a whole does not have an appropriate method to track violations across-the-board in all the services.

The GAO report also cited a 2005 Department of Defense survey of active duty recruiters which found that 20 percent of recruiters believe that recruiting violations occur frequently, especially around the times of monthly goal deadlines. The same survey found that a majority of recruiters are dissatisfied with recruiting duty. This is not surprising, as many noncommissioned officers and petty officers are involuntarily selected for recruiting duty.

DoD officials seem unconcerned with the GAO report. According to Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, the number of errors also does not seem high considering the large volume of recruits, as less than one-half of 1 percent of applicants are victims of misbehavior on the part of their recruiter.

“I bet most government and private sector enterprises would welcome a 99.7 percent fidelity rate in recruiting over a quarter-million people annually,” he said.

However, in a written response to the report, Michael Dominguez, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said that more attention will be paid to recruiter misconduct in the future.

The GAO report concludes that the increase in misconduct is tied directly to the pressure on recruiters.

According to the report, “Given the large numbers of service members DoD must recruit every year, there is ample opportunity for recruiter irregularities to occur.”

From 2004 to 2005, recruiting got tougher as the unemployment rate fell from 6 percent in 2003 to 5.1 percent in 2005 and the war in Iraq became increasingly unpopular, the GAO says. Recruiters cited the state of the economy, specifically the low unemployment rate, as having “the single largest effect recently on meeting recruiting goals,” according to the report.

With unemployment dropping, recruiters are finding fewer qualified applicants. Less than half of service-aged youths meet the military’s requirements, which tempts some recruiters to use improper and illegal tactics to make their goals, the report states.

So, what can you do if you are a victim of recruiter misconduct? Each of the military recruiting services have "Inspector Generals," who's job it is to investigate allegations of recruiting irregularities and recruiter misconduct:

    Air Force
    Inspector General,
    Air Force Recruiting Service, HQ AFRS/CVI,
    Randolph AFB, TX 78150

    Army
    Inspector General,
    U.S. Army Recruiting, USAREC,
    Fort Knox, KY 40121

    Navy
    Inspector General,
    COMNAVCRUITCOM Code 001,
    5722 Integrity Dr, Bldg 768,
    Millington, TN 38054

    Marine Corps (East Coast)
    Commanding General,
    Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD),
    Parris Island, SC 29905

    Marine Corps (West Coast)
    Commanding General,
    Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD),
    San Diego, CA 92140

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