Attrition: Old Recruits Never Appeared


February28, 2007: In the last two years, the U.S. Army has raised the maximum age of new recruits from 35 to 42. Pundits deplored this as a desperate measure by an army unable to attract enough recruits. The army has since snagged 653 new recruits older than 35. The army has also been obtaining more than its required 80,000 new recruits a year. Interestingly, the higher age limit made the difference. Last year, the army took in 80,635 new recruits. Without the older ones, they would have only gotten 99.98 percent of the recruits it needed.

The older recruits, as expected, had a harder time adapting to military life. Experience has shown that older men have less physical stamina, and less psychological flexibility, than younger guys. Thus 11.5 percent of the older recruits washed out within a year, compared to 6.5 percent of the younger recruits. One way the army made its recruiting goals last year was lowering standards (allowing people with more tattoos, less education and more of a past, in). More money helped, with pay going up (not just base pay, but bonuses for hazardous duty and reenlistment).


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