I hate this thing…
…that they've done to my Army more than most. Military.com, via Fester…
In fiscal 2006, which ended Sept. 30, the Army brought in 5900 non-high school graduates as TTAS (pronounced T-TAS) recruits. Not only do such recruits help the Army reach its numerical recruiting goals but the Army can exclude these recruits when calculating the percentage of high school diploma graduates recruited, which is an important quality measure.It's not, though, the generally bemoaned drop in 'standards' that distresses me. It's the dishonesty. I have no doubt that there are many people without a high school diploma, or even a GED, who are intelligent enough to be trained in any number of Army occupations, if sufficiently motivated. Being educable in the sense of the K-12 tradition may have little to do with being trainable in a military sense.
For example, the Army announced last month that 81 percent of its non-prior service recruits for 2006 were high school graduates. That was disturbingly below the 90 percent Department of Defense standard for every service. But the proportion of high school graduates would have been reported as 74.3 percent if the Army had to count the 5900 TTAS enlistees high school dropouts. The number instead is ignored.
Of course, knowing, admitting, that for many the Army remains a, if not the, reliable vehicle for upward mobility, shatters one of the myths of the all-volunteer military, that enlistees are among the elite of their generation, better educated and motivated more, perhaps, by duty than their predecessors than by the traditional enticement of 'the bennies.' It may be so in some cases, but those motivations have always been sufficient for some, even in the era of conscripted service.
Still, making this kind of deception a policy demeans the entire service, and the entire chain of command. It's an official lie, and somewhere in that chain there must be a West Point graduate willing to point out that he and his classmates have sworn that they will "...not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." Through the efforts of generations of officers, that oath has been considered part of the command philosophy of the US Army. Confidence in the kind of character such an oath represents is part of what inspires some men to follow others into combat. Such a baldly admitted official lie represents problems far deeper than recruiting standards or strategies.
Of course, there's the issue of a 'two-tier' enlistment policy itself. The only thing the TTAS recruits appear to have in common is an education that the Army has deemed adequate for enlistment. Why should there be a distinction between them and their comrades whose educations, of whatever level, are similarly adequate? Is there, perhaps, another distinction? Has anyone tracked the percentage of TTAS troops in combat arms assignments, for instance?
Make eligibility dependent on a minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Adjust the score as necessary, but apply it universally. There should be two kinds of applicants - qualified or not - and one kind of soldier.
Or something else. But stop the lie.
It's hurting my Army.