2005 October 05 Wednesday
US Army Lowers Recruiting Standards Due To Iraq

Recruiting shortfalls as young men decide Iraq is not worth dying for have led the US Army to announce yet another lowering of standards on recruits.

The Department of Defense "standards on qualification tests call for at least 60 percent Category 1 to 3 (the higher end of testing) and 4 percent Category 4," the lowest end, Harvey said. "The other services follow that standard and the Army National Guard always followed it as well. But the active Army chose a standard of 67 percent in Categories 1-3, and 2 percent Category 4." It now would use the Defense Department guidelines, he said.

This basically lowers the IQ standards for recruits. This will reduce average effectiveness of military units. Perhaps the military can compensate somewhat by assigning dummies to Korea and other places where combat is unlikely.

The 6000 to 8000 soldier recruiting shortfall for the last year is behind the policy change.

Coming off a recruiting year in which the Army fell short of its goal of 80,000 active-duty soldiers, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey announced that the Army would allow up to 4% of its recruiting class to be Category IV recruits — those who scored between the 16th and 30th percentile in the battery of aptitude tests that the Defense Department gives to all potential military personnel.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) has 4 sections (known as the Armed Forces Qualification Test or AFQT) that are pretty heavily "g" loaded. In other words, the sections are similar to IQ tests and measure what IQ tests measure. The standards lowering is being done for results from the AFQT subsections of the ASVAB.

The US military has spent large sums of money on psychometric research for decades and has found that IQ correlates heavily with ability to carry out military duties and not get oneself and fellow soldiers killed. So the US military is very keen on keeping out the dummies. The military correctly sees that maintaining military standards is a matter of life and death. If only medical school admissions boards which lower standards for blacks and Hispanics took the same approach the number of deaths from malpractice would be lower. But I digress.

A previous report by Steve Sailer mentioned that the category IV recruits are below 92 IQ and the US Army already doubled its category IV intake last year from 1% to 2%.

Almost nobody in the media is aware of the vast investment the U.S. military has made over the last 88 years in IQ testing of potential recruits, and the huge number of correlation studies they have done comparing soldiers' IQ with their actual performance. I was only barely aware of it myself until I spent hours last fall interviewing military psychometricians for my article showing that John F. Kerry scored a bit lower on his officer application IQ test than George W. Bush did. (This was the report that Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about on the NBC Nightly News.)

Because the U.S. military knows that bad things tend to happen to low IQ soldiers—and to their comrades who have the misfortune to be standing nearby—since 1991 only about one percent of new enlistees have IQs below the 30th percentile (i.e., an IQ of about 92). (See Table 2.8 in this Defense Department report.)

Last year, the Army announced that because of tribulations in meeting recruitment quotas due to the Iraq War, it would up its share of new soldiers scoring below the 30th percentile all the way to 2 percent.

Since the black IQ average is 85 and 85 is well below 92 that 30th percentile cut-off point makes a substantial majority of blacks ineligible for service in the US military. By one estimate three fifths of blacks and one fifth of whites aren't smart enough to join the military under the tougher pre-Iraq standard. Letting in more lower IQ recruits will especially help with black and Hispanic recruitment.

Update: Fred Kaplan of Slate criticises the lowering of standards and accidentally violates the taboo on racial differences in intelligence.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 October 05 11:21 AM  Mideast Iraq Costs

Hugh Angell said at October 5, 2005 2:30 PM:

I would note that in WW2, when about 20% of the entire male population of the US was in
uniform and an even higher percentage of men between 18 and 35 ( which I think was the
cutoff for being drafted), the 'average intelligence' of US forces would undoubtedly have
been lower than that of today and yet we did win the war.

I would also note the US Army missed in enlistment quota in 1999 because, presumably, there
were plenty of jobs in the civilian economy and not because of the strain of Bosnia or

Relying on an all volunteer force has always made me somewhat uneasy for a lot of reasons.
Unequal burden sharing where the affluent escape the burden of defending their country (and
their wealth), more rural and southern than urban and coastal, creates a social and
political gulf between the soldier and the citizen and as you point out, it can be hard to
get qualified recruits when there is a war on. I think to remedy this we do need to make
national service a precondition for holding federal employment or receiving government
education loans. Doesn't have to be military but the service contract could be adjusted
based on the nature of one's service. Say infantry service of but 2 years, Navy and Air
Force 3 years, civilian service 4-5 years. Benefits too could be on a sliding scale.

Say an infantry soldier with a SAT of 1100 might be given priority admission into any
public university over a lesser national service category with an SAT of 1200 and those
that eschew any national service would only be admitted as space allows. Instituting such
academic and service requirements would likely top off our recruiting efforts for the
combat arms.

Randall Parker said at October 5, 2005 2:43 PM:


The statistical analyses done on the performance and casualty rates of the dumber soldiers in WWII was what led to tougher standards on who can join the military.

Invisible Scientist said at October 5, 2005 9:22 PM:

Have you seen the movie "Starship Troopers"? This movie was based on the famous science-fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. In this book of Heinlein, only those voluntarily complete the military service, are given full citizenship rights (including the right to vote), even if they were born in the country. But seriously, it really seems that if this tension in the world continues, a lot more robots will be built for combat. Arnold Schwarzenegger will become obsolete soon.

John S Bolton said at October 6, 2005 12:06 AM:

Is the Bush administration being traitorous by allowing a program of racial patronage to obstruct recruitment in time of war? Seeing that the overwhelming majority of those eligible for enlistment are white, how can there be affirmative action against the majority, in these circumstances of war? The WSJ of 12 6th, 1995, p. A20, reports that the military policy is that "special permission will be required for the promotion of all white men without disabilities". Allow promotion on a merit basis, and the recruitment will go way up. Retention is also greatly affected by a near moratorium on promotions for the white men without disabilities. This policy is at the president's discretion, yet he prefers to cripple recruitment by disallowing merit promotions to go through, if they disturb the quotas.

Engineer-Poet said at October 6, 2005 6:51 AM:

So rather than recruiting the low-IQ into jobs where they will become casualties at disproportionate rates, we keep them safely out of the system and let smarter people become casualties instead.

It's a good thing the absolute casualty rates are small, otherwise something like this looks like a way to repeat the phenomenon which reduced the average height of the French.

Bob Badour said at October 6, 2005 7:47 AM:


Which phenomenon is that? Monsieur le Guillotine?

crush41 said at October 6, 2005 9:04 AM:

Look at the DOD data Sailer used. The data was recalibrated in 1980. Why have scores grown so drastically since then (From 50% categories 1-3 to over 70%)?

Randall Parker said at October 6, 2005 9:53 AM:


The Army changed its admissions criteria.

The Army is now undoing some of those changes. It is not just letting in more category IV. It is also lowering requirements on the relative ratio of categories I thru III. Click thru and read the full articles I link to in this post. I didn't spell out all the changes in the post.

The Army is also upping the percentage of GEDs and helping potential recruits to get their GEDs.

Randall Parker said at October 6, 2005 9:54 AM:


Tall people died a lot in the front ranks of Napoleon's army.

crush41 said at October 6, 2005 10:01 AM:

Yes, but the for admission have increased as well, not just the bar to recruiting. Steve Sailer discusses some of the reasons in one of his recent posts.

Jorge D.C. said at October 7, 2005 12:51 AM:

Relying on an all volunteer force has always made me somewhat uneasy for a lot of reasons. Unequal burden sharing where the affluent escape the burden of defending their country (and their wealth), more rural and southern than urban and coastal, creates a social and political gulf between the soldier and the citizen...

Yes the ultimate result is the increased ability of a nation to wage war without sacrifice, without feeling the pain across a wide cross-section of society. What could be more dangerous? The nation as a whole inches closer to imitating the elite Northerner in the Civil War who paid cash to have a substitute fight for him. What could be more dishonest and anti-patriotic?

This is just another component of the de-evolution/evolution of Western democracy. We haven't officially declared war since WWII, I believe. There is a grinding of gears going on in the nation's subconscious as a result of relentless official dishonesty. The lies from Washington only increase as surveys show overall trust in government declining for forty years.

Rtother said at October 9, 2005 3:19 PM:

Having an all-volunteer force also has its benefits. Anecdotally speaking, I know some bright South Korean guys who came to the US to avoid mandatory military service in South Korea, among other reasons.

Doug said at October 9, 2005 4:50 PM:

Randall, you serve up Murray & Herrnstein in a colder and more matter-of-fact way than anyone else I've come across. I'm happy to see such forthrightness.

Randall Parker said at October 9, 2005 5:23 PM:


I decided that the evidence from psychometrics research deserves the same respect and public acceptance as the evidence about evolution by natural selection. People should stop running away from unpleasant truths.

Devilboy said at October 10, 2005 9:14 AM:

"Perhaps the military can compensate somewhat by assigning dummies to Korea and other places where combat is unlikely."

Randall, that might be a solution... but don't you think that assigning a bunch dumb as bricks thugged out clowns to bases in our "allied" nations will reinforce the popular foreign stereotype of Americans? Do we really need more US soldiers committing crimes, as would undoubtedly happen with lower IQ individuals, in nations we need on our side in future?

We not use these individuals to guard the southern border? Even though that doesn't help with troops levels in Iraq, it would help with the overall economy... something Iraq certianly won't do.

Todd said at November 1, 2006 1:48 PM:

It seems to me the Army hasn't lowered standards, but increased the number of exceptions to those standards. This functionally expands the margins and I highly doubt those class IV exceptions will be from the low end of that class.

It seems to really lower standards would be to change the ASVAB scoring so the same test score which is now a class IV would be then callled class III.

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Web parapundit.com
Go Read More Posts On ParaPundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©