By MG Jeffrey J. Snow
Commanding General, U.S. Army Recruiting Command,
October 11, 2017
If you have read the Oct. 10 USA Today article titled "Army is accepting more low-quality recruits, giving waivers for marijuana to hit targets," you may be inclined to think the Army is lowering its standards as its need for additional Soldiers increases.
As the commanding general for U.S. Army Recruiting, I am here to tell you, we have not. In fact, quality is a priority for us, just as it is for Army leadership. Our recruiters exceeded all Department of Defense quality benchmarks in fiscal 2017, despite receiving the largest in-year mission increase in the history of the all-volunteer force in January. This was an incredible challenge for our team of 9,000 recruiters stationed across the country and its territories. I am proud of them.
Did we bring in some individuals who scored in category 4 on the ASVAB? Yes. Did we enlist some people who met all the qualifications to serve but had to get a waiver for past marijuana use? Yes.
We are a microcosm of society, and eight states have legalized marijuana. As long as it is not a pattern of misconduct, I think they should be afforded an opportunity to serve.
We recruited 68,862 Soldiers into the active Army and all met the cognitive, physical and moral requirements to serve, which is something only 29 percent of today's youth are able to do. We were well within directed DoD quality benchmarks.
So, what should have been a success story about the tireless efforts of recruiters to help nearly 69,000 individuals find a full-time career with the Army became a skewed story focusing on a small fraction of recruits.
Our team did not fail. In fact, we exceeded the mission we were given AND we recruited a high-quality force for our Army.
So why don't we talk about the 33,000 people who received an average bonus of $12,800 because they met our high standards, selected in-demand jobs, and shipped to training quickly. And, by the way, we are expanding bonuses again this year for an even higher recruiting mission - because quality matters to us.
Let's talk about how 6,900 new recruits came in with a college degree.
Let's talk about how we added a new physical requirement for all recruits this year, the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, to ensure we are putting people in the right jobs where they are most likely to be successful. We are already seeing early signs this additional requirement is lowering attrition rates.
Let's talk about how Army recruiters were successful even in an environment where 71 percent of youth do not meet the qualifications to serve because of obesity, medical issues, criminal history and more; where unemployment is below 4.5 percent; and where 50 percent of youth openly admit they know nothing about the opportunities the military can provide.
We are competing for the same top talent as the private sector. We hire and train people on a much larger scale than anyone else. And we do it well.
Each and every one of our new recruits, regardless of their ASVAB score or waiver status, made the decision to join the 1 percent of our population who currently serve our country. For that, they should all be commended.
U.S. Army recruiters work hard every day to ensure the people of this country have the Soldiers they need to protect us and our freedoms. They deserve credit for a job well done.