It regards how the military has had to sweep an ever broader net to find recruits for Iraq duty -- drawing in thousands of high school dropouts while also cooking the books to hide the practice. This guy's no leftist, reformed or otherwise; just a guy who makes a living writing about soldiers for soldiers and their families. Check it out.
A wartime Army struggling to attract enough “quality” volunteers is enlisting additional thousands of high school dropouts using an experimental screening tool to identify those most likely to complete their enlistments.
The Two Tier Attrition Screen (TTAS) is an added “quality indicator” that officials hope will allow the Army take in many more high school dropouts with greater confidence they won’t drive up attrition rates.
Years of research have shown that high school dropouts are more prone to be discipline problems in service and to be discharged early. The first-term attrition rate for non-graduates typically is 50 percent, almost double that of high school diploma graduates.
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.
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.
In March, Defense officials gave the Army permission to sign up 8000 TTAS recruits a year to ease increasingly difficult recruiting challenges.
The Army began to recruit up to 4000 specially screened non-graduates, and to exclude them from quality calculations, in fiscal 2000. The recruits needed to pass a high school equivalency exam, called the GED. They also were screened using a special test to assess motivation, developed by the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.
The “GED-Plus” recruits, as they were called, had attrition rates not much lower than that of high school dropouts. So in April 2005, the Army fielded TTAS, an improved screening tool. It combines a better motivation test with minimum score requirements on the math and word-knowledge portions of the military entrance exam. Finally, TTAS screens non-diploma recruits using weight-to-height proportions also called a body mass index.