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Army looking to measure enthusiasm of recruits

By LEO SHANE III | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 19, 2007

WASHINGTON — Army researchers are looking for ways to measure young troops’ enthusiasm and “heart” to find ways to include more borderline recruits, the service’s top personnel soldier said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, deputy chief of staff for personnel (G-1) for the Army, said the idea is not to lower standards for admission but to better identify young recruits who test poorly on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB.

“It’s really looking at what makes a good soldier,” he said in a question-and-answer session with reporters. “Universities have already taken a similar approach; most now aren’t relying exclusively on the results of the SAT.”

He compared the idea to the ongoing Assessment of Recruit Motivation and Strength testing, a second-chance alternative for recruits who flunk the service’s fitness requirements.

That test, Rochelle said, can help spot recruits whose body mass index labels them unfit to serve, but whose drive and strength show them to be worthy of an opportunity.

The work is just in the research phase now, he said, and officials could take five to 10 years before deciding on any new recruit testing or admission standards. The new assessments will likely be added as a supplement to the ASVAB and high school diploma requirements, not in place of them.

In 2006, in response to sagging recruiting numbers, the Army increased its number of acceptable category IV recruits — those scoring the lowest acceptable level on the ASVAB — from 2 percent of the recruiting class to 4 percent. Officials at the time noted the 4 percent level was still within Defense Department standards.

Rochelle said he does not anticipate any lowering of standards or increase in recruiting waivers as the Army continues to up its personnel numbers this fiscal year. The service hopes to add about 4,000 new soldiers this year, mostly through reserve-to-active-duty programs like the Active First initiative.

Shorter tours?

Rochelle also said Thursday that he is optimistic that soldiers will be able to resume shorter 12-month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan by next summer instead of the current 15-month stints, but cautioned that no decisions have been made yet.

“It will depend on whether we can still complete the mission,” he said. “And the enemy still has a vote.”


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