WASHINGTON -- Nearly 12 percent of Army recruits who entered basic training this year needed a special waiver for those with criminal records, a dramatic increase over last year and 2 1/2 times the percentage four years ago, according to new Army statistics obtained by the Globe.That's more than one recruit of every nine coming in with a criminal record - and not just parking tickets, or kids given the choice between enlisting or jail time. These are people with either multiple misdemeanor convictions, or a single "less serious" felony conviction:
With less than three months left in the fiscal year, 11.6 percent of new active-duty and Army Reserve troops in 2007 have received a so-called "moral waiver," up from 7.9 percent in fiscal year 2006, according to figures from the US Army Recruiting Command. In fiscal 2003 and 2004, soldiers granted waivers accounted for 4.6 percent of new recruits; in 2005, it was 6.2 percent.
Army officials acknowledge privately that the increase in moral waivers reflects the difficulty of signing up sufficient numbers of recruits to sustain an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq; the Army fell short of its monthly recruiting goals in May and June.
Since Oct. 1, 2006, when the fiscal year began, more than 8,000 of the roughly 69,000 recruits have been granted waivers for offenses ranging in seriousness from misdemeanors such as vandalism to felonies such as burglary and aggravated assault.
Moral waivers must be approved by an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher and are required when an Army applicant has been found guilty of committing four or more minor offenses such as littering or disorderly conduct -- or two to four misdemeanors such as larcency, trespassing, or vandalism.That high a percentage of folks with criminal records is going to leave a legacy of disciplinary problems for years to come. Then, there are the Aryan Nations types that are joining up for the training (and leaving graffiti in the streets of Baghdad).
Applicants who have committed a single felony such as arson, burglary, aggravated assault, breaking and entering, or marijuana possession must also receive a moral waiver to join. Applicants with more than one felony -- or with a single conviction for a more serious crime such as homicide, sexual violence, or drug trafficking -- are not eligible.
Oh, well. Just another example of how the current Administration is doing its best to break the armed forces, I suppose.