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Pot Waivers Go Up, Testing Standards Go Down As Army Eases Recruiting
America’s Army is looking more like America, warts and all.
The ground service, looking to enlist nearly 20% more recruits than it did last year, is relaxing ASVAB/AFQT scoring requirements and easing the process to get a waiver for past marijuana use.
Army officials hope to bring 80,000 new soldiers on board in the 2018 fiscal year, a significant increase from the 69,000 recruited in fiscal 2017, USA Today reported Oct. 10. Hitting those numbers is no small goal in an economy with 4.5% unemployment while hotspots for U.S. deployment pop up all over the world.
To pick up the slack, the service is increasing its enlistment of so-called “Category Four” applicants: those who scored between the 10th and 30th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. DoD regulations permit the services to have no more than 4% of their force made up of Cat 4 service members. The Army’s share of Cat 4 recruits more than tripled last year, USA Today shows:
“We made a conscious decision to bring in some more Category 4 soldiers during the months that it is most difficult for us to meet the training seat requirement,” Gen. Jeffrey Snow, head of Army Recruiting Command, told USA Today.
The service also implemented a rule change to increase the number of marijuana waivers granted to aspiring soldiers. Such waivers previously required a sign-off from a flag officer; now, a recruiting command O-5 can approve them. As a result, USA Today reported, Army pot waivers more than doubled last year, to 506 from 191 in fiscal year 2016.
To be clear, the Army hasn’t suddenly become more chill about weed — enlistees still have to promise not to violate the military’s regs against drug use in the future — but they are concerned with saving bonus money, which has exploded in recent years — and accessioning recruits with drug waivers, who don’t typically qualify for bonuses, helps the bottom line:
Don’t expect the standards to stay this relaxed forever; recruitment guidelines shift as wars and economic conditions change. But for those otherwise-qualified recruits who expected reefer-enjoyin’ to disqualify them from serving their country: Smoke ’em if you got ’em. Just give ’em 30 days to leave your system before heading to MEPS.
The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.
The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.
But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."
Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.
He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.
Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.
Then a thumbs-up.
McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.
By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.
A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.