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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Did the military really meet its recruitment goals?

It appears that I, along with the Washington Post, was a bit duped the other day when I passed along the information that the military had met its recruitment goals this year, and even admitted that their success had to do with the rotten state of the economy.

It turns out that that was only part of the story, because in their press release which the Post appears to have pretty much printed without further inquiry, the military omitted one rather salient fact - while the Army exceeded its recruitment goal of 65,000 by signing 70,045 new recruits, it turns out that they only met their goal by lowering it - for the preceding two years, their goal had been 80,000.

And actually, although the Salon article just linked doesn't take note of this, I think there's even more to this deception. According to the Pentagon report, the Navy, Marines, and Air Force were all at exactly 100% of their goal. The Navy recruited 35,527 with a goal of 35,500 (a variance of 0.9%); the Marines sucked in 31,413 out of a goal of 31,400 (a 0.04% variance!), and the Air Force 31,983 out of 31,980 (a remarkable 0.009% variance!!). Even if these organizations stopped recruiting the day they met their goal, considering they're recruiting on average 100 people/day, such a feat would be equivalent to quite literally stopping a speeding car on a dime. Bloody unlikely. Far more likely is that those goals were created after the fact, or at a minimum revised month-by-month so that the chance of missing the goal at the end of the year would be continually lessened.

I wrote in my original post that the attribution of their "success" to the economy was "a rare remarkably honest statement from the Pentagon." Perhaps it was. But real honesty, as we're reminded in court, requires not only telling the truth. It requires telling the whole truth.

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