Recruiting Oddities

Last week, in an e-mail concerning Army recruiting for November, I wrote to Mr. M that I strongly believed that two things were going on that were a little bit wierd. The numbers are looking a bit strange, and the quality seems to be dropping.

The November 2005 goal was 17% below the November 2004 goal. Lukery did some digging for the YoY comparisons for October, and the 2005 benchmark was ~30% less than the 2004 benchmark. Both months in 2004 saw their objectives achieved but this early success still lead to significant future shortfalls. With the lower monthly benchmarks, but an identical yearly goal of 80,000 recruits, the Army therefore is pushing larger comparative benchmarks forward. Lukery has a good summation of the current recruiting environment:

“if we put it another way, by this time last year they recruited 13735, and they have 10781 so far this year – putting them 22% behind where they were at the same time last year, and remembering that they failed by 8% last year.”

So the numbers are running behind pace from last year, despite the headlines of targets being achievd. So what about quality?

October 2005 had 12% of recruits come into the Army as Cat. IV recruits, which is the lowest quality that is acceptable. The DOD has an internal quality assurance check of taking in no more than 4% of all recruits as Cat. 4. The Army has had a long term quality assurance goal of no more than 2% of recruits would be Cat. 4, and it has had several years in the past decade met overall recruiting objectives while only accepting less than 1% of all recruits who were Cat. 4. If that objective of no more than 4% is to be met, then the Army in the first month of recruiting used up 18% of their entire allotment of Cat. 4 recruits for the fiscal year, with eleven recruiting months left in it. So I was very curious as to what the November Cat. 4 numbers were, for I suspected that they would be high as we have a two year pattern of behavior of the Army dropping standards to hold onto their numbers.

Matt Yglesias at Tapped did some reading so I did not have to and found the following LA Times article with the following two informaton points:

“The Army exceeded its 5,600 recruit goal by 256 for November, and the Army Reserve brought in 1,454 recruits, exceeding its target by 112. To do so, they accepted a “double digit” percentage of recruits who scored from 16 to 30 out of a possible 99 on the military’s aptitude test, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

Pulling the November and October official DOD press releases and then grabbing the data that has been released, we can do a quick anaylsis of how much does this quality drop allow for the Army to meet their objectives.

If we assume “double digit” percentage is exactly 10%, and we assume that the Army only recruited these individuals because they had tapped out all higher than Cat. IV prospects, and we assume that the 4% objective was held as a firm ceiling, then the Army would have been short 100 recuits of the November objective. If the percentage of Cat. 4 was 12.5%, then the shortfall under these same assumptions would have been 240 recruits for November, and if the Cat. 4 percentage was 15%, then the shortfall of recruits would have been 390 for the month. Quality is dropping significantly to make numbers.
The next interesting quote is the following:

“”We will be at 4% at the end of the fiscal year, that’s what matters,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the Army.”

This claim is extraordinarily dubious. The October Cat. 4 group used up 18% of the total year’s allotment of Cat. 4 recruits if the objective of 96% Cat 3 or better recruits are met for FY-06. Assuming, and this is a very favorable assumption that “double digit” means exactly 10% of November recruits are Cat. IV, and assuming equal distribution of recruits between active and reserve formations, that means 586 new recruits are Cat. IV in November. The Army wants to recruit 80,000 individuals this fiscal year, which means 4% for the year is 3,200 recruits as Cat. IV.

November, at this conservative, lowballed estimate would eat up 18% of the total allowable pool, so combined with October, the Army has used up 36% of their allotment of Cat. IV recruits to pull in 13.5% of their entire recruiting goal, or roughly 3 times as many Cat. 4 recruits have been pulled in then they should be proportionally. To hold 4% for the year, the next 70,000 recruits can not exceed 2.9% Cat. IV, or a reduction of 80% in current Cat. IV trend rates. And that drop must happen in December or the target goals get even lower quicker. These numbers get tougher if you assume double digits means something greater than 10%.

These two trends strongly suggest that the problems that the Army faced last year in recruiting will be mild compared to what could be coming down the pipe this winter and next spring. The yield of recruits per recruiter is down, as the Army has added 1,500 new recruiters since last November, but the total number of recruits is down YoY. Quality is dropping, and the economy is performing exactly the same as it had last year — going sideways for the relevant demographics, and support for the war has declined over the past year. Last spring may be considered “good times” for recruiters when this May rolls around.

[Note: This post was submitted by Fester who is being bloggered at the moment.]

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