Uncle Sam doesn’t want you. At least 80 percent of you.
These days, the U.S. military is only taking 20 percent of the applicants who walk into their local recruiter’s office intent on enlisting in the armed services.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Terrence Hoard told the Kansas City Star that his recruitment office once needed to sign up 16 to 20 soldiers per month to meet recruitment goals. Today, he can get by with 10 to 12.
“We’re turning down twice as many as before,” he told the paper, which reported that four of every five adults who seek to join the military in 2014 do not make the cut.
The U.S. Army hopes to hit 57,000 recruits for active duty this year. It’s on pace to do just that, even while applying a stricter set of standards as it pertains to physical fitness, appearance (i.e., tattoos), intelligence test results and an applicant’s criminal history.
The Navy is no different.
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“It’s not that we have a zero defect mentality, because we don’t,” Nathan Christensen, a Navy officer in public affairs for the Defense Department, told the Kansas City Star. “But it is true that the quality of military recruits right now is the highest it’s been in 40 years.”
The tough environment for potential recruits is due in large part to troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Pentagon’s plans to cut the size of the active duty Army.
The Kansas City Star reported that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel aims to lower active duty soldiers from 520,000 to 490,000 by autumn 2015.