Posted Jan. 23, 2008 – For years, the Army has said you can "be all you can be." Does that include being a high school graduate?
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As the war rages on in Iraq, casualties mount and fewer people sign up for military duty, the number of Army recruits with high school diplomas is diminishing, according to a report released Tuesday.
The National Priorities Project, a research group that analyzes federal data, found that the U.S. Army is about 20 percentage points away from its target number of 90 percent of recruits who have a high school diploma, which it has failed to achieve since 2004.
In the 2007 budget year, only 71 percent had earned diplomas, according to the project, which based its findings on statistics it obtained from the Defense Department through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Military officials prefer that recruits have a high school diploma because studies show that graduates are more likely to finish an enlistment term, The Associated Press reports.
Speaking to AP, Douglas Smith, spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox , Ky. , acknowledged that recruitment has been tough. He also pointed to what he described as an overall decline in high school graduation rates. Over the past seven years, he said, the armed services have had to hike the number of waivers and spike enlistment bonuses to fill its ranks.
"Every soldier that we put in the Army is qualified," Smith said. "We don't put unqualified people in the Army, but it's something we're watching."