US is recruiting misfits for army

Felons, racists, gang members fill in the ranks
from san francisco chronicle: While the secretary of defense's longstanding goal of transforming the planet's most powerful military into its highest-tech, most agile, most futuristic fighting force has, in the words of the Washington Post's David Von Drehle, "melted away," the very makeup of the armed forces has been mutating before our collective eyes under the pressure of the war in Iraq. This actual transformation has been reported, but only in scattered articles on the new recruitment landscape in America...

In February, the Baltimore Sun wrote that there was "a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms 'serious criminal misconduct' in their background" - a category that included "aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats." From 2004 to 2005, the number of those recruits rose by more than 54 percent, while alcohol and illegal drug waivers, reversing a four-year decline, increased by more than 13 percent.

In June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that, under pressure to fill the ranks, the Army had been allowing into its ranks increasing numbers of "recruits convicted of misdemeanor crimes, according to experts and military records." In fact, as the military's own data indicated, "the percentage of recruits entering the Army with waivers for misdemeanors and medical problems has more than doubled since 2001." ...

The Army has even looked behind prison bars for fill-in recruits - in one reported case, they went to a "youth prison" in Ogden, Utah...

Law enforcement officials report that the military is now "allowing more applicants with gang tattoos," the Chicago Sun-Times reports, "because they are under the gun to keep enlistment up." They also note that "gang activity may be rising among soldiers." The paper was provided with "photos of military buildings and equipment in Iraq that were vandalized with graffiti of gangs based in Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities."

Last month, the Sun-Times reported that a gang member facing federal charges of murder and robbery enlisted in the Marine Corps "while he was free on bond -- and was preparing to ship out to boot camp when Marine officials recently discovered he was under indictment." While this recruit was eventually booted from the Corps, a Milwaukee police detective and Army veteran, who serves on the federal drug and gang task force that arrested the would-be Marine, noted that other "gang-bangers are going over to Iraq and sending weapons back ... gang members are getting access to military training and weapons." ...

In the latter half of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military started to crumble from within and American troops began scrawling "UUUU" on their helmet liners -- an abbreviation that stood for "the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful."

With a growing majority of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq and even ardent hawks refusing to enlist in droves, new policies creating a lower-quality officer corps and the Pentagon pulling out ever more stops and sinking to new lows to recruit and train troops, a new all-volunteer generation of UUUU's may emerge - the underachieving, unable, unexceptional, unintelligent, unsound, unhinged, unacceptable, unhealthy, undesirable, unloved and uncivil -- all led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful.

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