The New York Times ran a lead editorial today suggesting that to keep its ranks full, the US military is digging more deeply into the available American labor pool than it perhaps should and has already issued more than 125,000 "moral waivers" to new enlistees.
The article suggests that in some cases, the military is putting weapons into the hands of serious criminals.
The editorial, in part, reads:
To keep filling the ranks, the Army has had to keep lowering its expectations. Diluting educational, aptitude and medical standards has not been enough. Nor have larger enlistment bonuses plugged the gap. So the Army has found itself recklessly expanding the granting of "moral waivers," which let people convicted of serious misdemeanors and even some felonies enlist in its ranks.
Last year, such waivers were granted to 8,129 men and women -- or more than one out of every 10 new Army recruits. That number is up 65 percent since 2003, the year President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. In the last three years, more than 125,000 moral waivers have been granted by America's four military services.
Most of last year's Army waivers were for serious misdemeanors, like aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and vehicular homicide. But around 900 -- double the number in 2003 -- were for felonies. [..]
But the Pentagon is discharging more than 700 people a year who are determined to be homosexuals -- who in nearly every case have performed their service honorably on behalf of their country and uniformed service.
But it goes beyond troops on the front line. The military apparently has little problem putting major weapons systems into the hands of criminals while at the same time discharging Arabic-speaking linguists.