Slate’s Fred Kaplan is reporting that the U.S. Army has come up with a new solution to drastically declining enlistment numbers: they’re taking the soldiers that they previously would have rejected. These soldiers, known as Category IV, represent those who score in the bottom third of the Army’s aptitude tests.
Before this year, the Army had allowed 4 per cent of its troops to be Category IV, yet in October and November of this year, at least 12 per cent of the soldiers enlisted fell into that category. The worst part? Aptitude matters:
The pattern is clear: The higher the score on the aptitude test, the better the performance in the field. This is true for individual soldiers and for units. Moreover, the study showed that adding one high-scoring soldier to a three-man signals team boosted its chance of success by 8 percent (meaning that adding one low-scoring soldier boosts its chance of failure by a similar margin).
A study by the Rand Corporation demonstrates the impact more fully.
Yet another sign of the failed Iraq adventure. Beyond the loss of life, beyond the complete policy paralysis, and beyond the perhaps irreparable damage to U.S. relations with our allies, the Iraq War is diminishing the fighting capacity of our military just at a time when it might truly be needed.