Print

Print


I suspect that the frequent revolts/coups by the military were more  
significant in Rome's ultimate collapse. Here we call that following  
military leaders' advice about how to escalate.

Best,
Michael

On Nov 5, 2009, at 9:00 AM, Phil Gasper wrote:

> I wonder if the Roman Empire had similar problems before it  
> collapsed. --PG
>
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110402899.html
>
> Girding for an uphill battle for recruits
>
> Obesity, poor education make many younger people unfit for military
> By Christian Davenport and Emma Brown
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Thursday, November 5, 2009
>
>
> It's tough enough selling military service to teenagers who might  
> not be so keen on getting their heads shaved or buy the whole "we do  
> more by 9 a.m." line. And the fact that enlisting today could very  
> well mean a visit to the front lines doesn't help, either.
>
> But according to a new report, there are other factors that make  
> recruiters' jobs even more difficult: the country's poor education  
> system and the worsening obesity crisis.
>
> About 75 percent of the country's 17- to 24-year-olds are ineligible  
> for military service, largely because they are poorly educated,  
> overweight and have physical ailments that make them unfit for the  
> armed forces, according to a report to be issued Thursday.
>
> Other factors, such as drug use, criminal records and mental  
> problems, contribute to what military leaders say is a major problem  
> that threatens the country's ability to defend itself at a time when  
> the all-volunteer force is already strained fighting two wars.
>
> To combat the problem, a group of retired military leaders has  
> joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan to call for greater  
> investment in early education, which advocates say helps boost  
> academic achievement and social development.
>
> "We are very concerned," said retired Army Maj. Gen. James A.  
> Kelley, a member of Mission: Readiness, the Washington-based  
> nonprofit organization that issued the report. "We do have the  
> greatest military in the world -- we have the greatest planes, the  
> greatest tanks, the greatest ships -- but the key goal is having  
> great people. Right now, we're attracting very highly qualified  
> folks but that could change over time."
>
> The report, "Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve," comes after the  
> military had one of its best recruiting years since the draft ended  
> in 1973. During the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the military  
> met all of its recruiting goals and had a higher quality of recruit  
> than in years past. About 95 percent of all Army recruits had a high  
> school diploma, up from 83 percent the year before.
>
> Military officials say their recent success is due to increased  
> spending on recruiting and bonuses, which in the Army went from an  
> average of less than $8,000 in 2000 to more than $18,000 in 2008. A  
> dismal economy, which drove up civilian unemployment, helped fill  
> the ranks as well. But in its report, the group warns that "a weak  
> economy is no formula for a strong military. Once the economy begins  
> to grow again, the challenge of finding enough high-quality recruits  
> will return."
>
> One of the main reason recruits don't qualify for the service is  
> inadequate education. One in four between the ages of 17 and 24 does  
> not have a high school diploma, according to the report. And many  
> who do still fail the military's version of the SAT, known as the  
> Armed Forces Qualification Test.
>
> Asthma, eyesight and hearing problems are also factors. But about a  
> third of all potential recruits can't join is because they're too  
> fat and out of shape.
>
> "When you get kids who can't do push-ups, pull-ups or run, this is a  
> fundamental problem not just for the military but for the country,"  
> said Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of accessions policy.  
> Many kids are not "taking physical education in school; they're more  
> interested in sedentary activities such as the computer or  
> television. And we have a fast-food mentality in this country."
>
> Recruiters, then, become part-time tutors and coaches, helping with  
> homework and whipping kids into shape. Some even hold after-school  
> workouts, where teenagers prepare for basic training. To pass an  
> Army physical fitness test, an 18-year-old male must be able to do  
> 42 push-ups in two minutes, 53 sit-ups in two minutes and run two  
> miles in 15 minutes and 54 seconds.
>
> Earlier this year, the National Guard opened a "Patriot Academy" in  
> Indiana, which helps high school dropouts earn a high school diploma  
> after graduating from basic training. In Maryland, the majority of  
> Guard recruiters are also certified substitute teachers, helping  
> recruits with their homework, said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Weeks.
>
> "We'll go work out at the gym with them to get them in shape," Weeks  
> said.
>
> But that's become increasingly challenging. Nationwide, more than  
> one in four adults is classified as obese by the Centers for Disease  
> Control and Prevention. Locally, 22 percent of adults in the  
> District are obese; 26 percent in Virginia; and 27 percent in  
> Maryland.
>
> Mission: Readiness, which comprises 89 retired military leaders  
> including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is  
> holding a news conference Thursday to bring attention to the issue.  
> And the group is pushing Congress to pass the Obama administration's  
> Early Learning Challenge Fund, a program that would grant states $1  
> billion annually for 10 years for early childhood development  
> programs.
>
> Educators say preschool programs are one of the best ways to ensure  
> academic success later in life. Military officials think they're one  
> of the best ways to ensure the country has a large pool of people  
> who will be savvy enough to fly helicopters, drive tanks and gather  
> intelligence.
>
> "You can't wait until high school in order to change a young  
> person," said Kelly, the retired major general. "It has to be done  
> at a very early age, and that's why the need for high quality early  
> learning is so vital."
>
>
>