Army Qualification Test Scores Plummeted Further In 2022

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Army leaders have seen a 13% drop in qualification test scores from the most recent high school graduating class compared to pre-pandemic performances, Defense News reported.

Disqualification rates for potential recruits also shot up from between 30% and 40% to about 70% because of obesity, drug use and failing to meet academic standards, Lt. Gen. Maria Gervais, second in command for Army training, said at a conference Thursday, according to Defense News. The Army is projected to fall short of its recruiting goal for the year ending Sept. 30 by 25%. (RELATED: School Shutdowns Hurt Army Recruitment And Created A National Security Risk. Here’s How)

Gervais, deputy commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command, said the Army has been in a “nosedive” since July 2021, but that the service may be seeing a steady revival, according to Defense News.

Preliminary data had previously showed that the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 lowered Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) scores by as much as 9%, Army Headquarters spokesman SFC Anthony Hewitt previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation. 

Problems continued through 2022 as academic test scores for grade school students plummeted in 2022 to their lowest level since the 1990s, according to a recent study from the Education Department published Sept. 1.

The Army has resisted lowering educational standards, scrapping a plan to drop the high school education requirement in June. In July, the Army set up a 90-day pilot program to bring educational and physical fitness scores for potential recruits up to minimum standards that it plans to roll out on a wide scale if it sees success.

While all of the U.S. military services have seen a decline in recruiting, the Army has been hit the worst, NBC News reported. Potential recruits fall short of academic and health requirements, have histories of using illegal drugs or banned substances, and the public has little knowledge of the service, according to Defense News.

The Army slashed its total force size projections by 10,000 troops this year and up to 21,000 in 2023.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at the same conference Tuesday that bad press has painted a disparaging picture of military service, according to Defense News. Reports of training deaths, climbing sexual assault and suicide rates and “woke” ideologies rampant in the military may make parents less likely to support military service for their children.

“There is some concern about what I would call psychological harms, there are parents who see headlines about suicide in the military or see headlines about sexual assault or harassment in the military,” said Wormuth, adding that media coverage of Army issues has made the service less attractive.

Although the service met active duty force size goals for 2021, it still suffered a decline in recruiting that was offset by better-than-expected retention rates, Gervais said, according to Defense News.

Overall attrition rates fell by roughly half between 2019 and 2021, Maj. Gen. John Kline said, according to Defense News.

Army Training and Doctrine Command did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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