Good News, Bad News

See if you can find which is which:

For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota.


But that still leaves the active-duty Army about 7,800 recruits behind schedule to send 80,000 enlistees to boot camp with only three months to go in the recruiting year, which ends on Sept. 30. The Army has not missed its annual enlistment quota since 1999, when a strong economy made recruiters' lives miserable.

Army officials insist that they can still reach their annual goal, especially with hundreds of new recruiters on the street, armed with big enlistment bonuses and greater leeway to recruit more high-school dropouts and lower-achieving applicants.

First time since January. That's not good. Moreover, I'm a bit nervous about our new strategy of attracting the most hopeless, directionless, and uneducated recruits we can find. When "a few bad apples"* can do as much harm to the cause as the bushel running Abu Ghraib did, it kind of underscores the need for a military representing the best of our society, not one formed by trawling the bottom of Lake America and enlisting whatever floats up.

* Abu Ghraib, of course, was not the work of a few bad apples, but a host of bad directives, poor leaders, inadequate oversight, and so forth. Nevertheless, since conservatives seem to think we really do have an Army of Ones, they should be fairly nervous about recruiting individuals who the Army, mere months ago, would've rejected out of hand.