An Ominous Adjustment

The Washington Post reported today that the U.S. Army, faced with the prospect of missing its recruiting goal, has raised the maximum enlistment age from 40 to 42. This is on the heels of a 5-year adjustment (from 35 to 40) just five months ago.

I find this very troubling. Not that I think 42 is too old – I happen to be 42, and I appreciate the Army’s acknowledgement of the fact that I’m not quite over the hill yet.

Rather, what I find troubling is the last sentence of the article: “Some analysts have said if the military cannot attract enough recruits, the United States might have to consider reinstating the draft.” While carefully couched in qualifiers (“some”, “if”, “might”), this sentence really contains the crux of the article. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I don’t care what kind of spin they put on it, if the Army wouldn’t take anybody over 35 years old in December 2005, and they’ll now accept recruits who are just a year away from their 25th high school reunion, times are getting desperate.

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