One of my early hobbyhorses at Fester's Place was tracking the recruiting numbers for the Army and the Marine Corps. The basic story was that if the Army attempted to maintain pre-war quality standards (no trouble with the law, high school diploma, reasonably intelligent, good initial physical conditioning, and young) the Army could not meet its intake benchmarks by the Summer of 2005. The Army's response to this problem was to dramatically drop standards. Moral waivers increased, individuals with criminal backgrounds were allowed in, GED recipients and Class IV recruits who should make up less than 2% of the force were actively recruited, and the age limit for a new private was ratcheted up to 42 years old. And once someone signed on the dotted line, it was almost impossible for the Army to find a good reason to kick them out even if by any other standard that individual was not a good fit for the Army.
This strategy looks like it has run its course with significant short term effects as successful counterinsurgency efforts require very smart and very disciplined small units, and lower quality recruits lower the quality of small units, especially when the sargeants (the fire team and squad leaders) are also seeing a collapse in quality standards for promotion.
The Political Radar is reporting that the US Army missed its recruiting mark for June by roughly 10%. This recruiting failure is after the bottom of the barrel has been thrice scraped. There is no one left who wants to volunteer. Combine this basic fact with the Broken Army clock that runs out in March of 2008, the fat lady is warming up for her encore.