No diploma, no problem to join the Navy

The US Navy had to deliver some bad news last October. Like the other armed service branches, they missed their recruiting goals again. And they missed all of them. By a lot. The enlisted ranks goal for fiscal year 2023 had been 37,700, but they came up more than 7,000 short of that. They missed the enlisted reserve goal by more than 2,000 and fell short by hundreds in the goal for new officers. This forced them to raise the goals for 2024 even higher. But how do they plan on accomplishing that feat?

Sadly, they have resorted to the same tactic they’ve used in the past. They are lowering the standards for admitting new recruits. You previously needed a high school diploma or at least a GED to be accepted. They are doing away with the requirement, providing they can pass the Armed Services Qualification Test. And they’ve lowered the passing grade for that examination even further. 

From  Associated Press:

The U.S. Navy is starting to enlist individuals who didn’t graduate from high school or get a GED, marking the second time in about a year that the service has opened the door to lower-performing recruits as it struggles to meet enlistment goals.

The decision follows a move in December 2022 to bring in a larger number of recruits who score very low on the Armed Services Qualification Test. Both are fairly rare steps that the other military services largely avoid or limit, even though they are all finding it increasingly difficult to attract the dwindling number of young people who can meet the military’s physical, mental and moral standards.

Under the new plan, Navy recruits without an education credential will be able to join as long as they score 50 or above on the qualification test, which is out of 99. The last time the service took individuals without education credentials was in 2000.

These are some seriously low standards for admission. Asking someone to manage to graduate high school isn’t a terribly high bar to set. And the qualification test used to require a considerably higher score. Scoring 50 out of a possible 99 is barely half. I still recall taking that test and sweating out the results even though I was ranked in the top ten or fifteen in my high school class. (Not to brag, but I almost aced it.)

The Navy had previously lowered the standards for physical fitness for recruits, both in terms of weight limits and stamina. They appear to be assuming that the recruits will burn off the weight and get in better shape during basic training. That’s generally true, assuming you don’t drop from a coronary event or respiratory issues on the drill field.

Perhaps these changes will help the Navy meet its goals this year. Perhaps not. Time will tell. But what sort of force are we putting in the field if the admission standards are this low? The world is currently in turmoil and the Navy is being tasked with significant challenges taking on the Houthis in the Red Sea, with other possible conflicts on the horizon. You really want your best and your brightest to answer the call. For some of the more basic, manual labor ratings you can probably fudge a bit, but for the assignments dealing with weapons control and communications, the military’s technical schools are as difficult as many college courses.

We really need people who are in good physical shape as well. While it’s not nearly as rough as serving in the field with the Army or the Marines, sailors have to stay on station and alert for long periods of time during General Quarters. Reloading the larger weapons systems can be grueling work. The bottom line is that publicly lowering our standards in this fashion sends a bad message to our adversaries. It’s already bad enough that we have a Commander-in-Chief who is neither feared nor respected around the globe at the moment. We’ll be taken even less seriously if Russia, China, and Iran believe our troops are a bunch of uneducated fatties. Something needs to be done to get our enlistment rates back up where they used to be and ensure that high-caliber people are once again willing to serve their country in uniform.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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