NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are Services Lowering Standards To Meet Personnel Targets?

July 19, 2000

It is no secret that the armed services are in need not of a few, but of a lot of good men and women. Recruiting targets just aren't being met in some branches. That has led to new policies to retain the recruits who do show up for basic training.

  • The four armed services put about 200,000 recruits through boot camp each year.
  • The Army has designed a host of programs to help trainees graduate from eight to 12 weeks of boot camp -- from remedial military drills to special courses for those with marginal English language skills.
  • The effort to salvage struggling but worthwhile recruits has adopted the motto: "Insist and Assist."
  • The new policy has been accompanied by a drop in the rate of recruit failures at some training camps -- with the rate at Ft. Jackson, S.C., the Army's largest training camp, expected to plunge from 23 percent in December of 1998 to 10 percent or lower by the end of this year.

The Army's failure rate for all basic combat training fell to 8.7 percent as of May -- down from 13 percent in 1998. While the Navy dismissed 17.1 percent of all recruits last year, this year it is failing 15.2 percent. The Air Force's overall failure rate of 8.3 percent this year is down slightly from 8.9 percent in 1999. At the Marine Corps' legendarily tough Parris Island boot camp, the rate has dropped from 20 percent to about 10 percent in the past two years.

Source: Dave Moniz, "This Isn't Your Father's Boot Camp Anymore," USA Today, July 19, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues