AP article in The Gazette failed to note lower standards for military recruits

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An Associated Press article about the Army's 2007 recruitment goals that appeared in The Gazette of Colorado Springs failed to mention that the Army had met its 2006 goals after lowering its recruiting standards. The Gazette's version also omitted AP's references to Americans' pessimism about Iraq and Bush's handling of the war.

On December 13, The Gazette of Colorado Springs (accessed through the newspaper's electronic edition) published a December 12 Associated Press article that reported the U.S. military is meeting its recruitment goals "for the 2007 budget year that began Oct. 1." The article, however, failed to note -- despite previous reporting -- that the Army recently lowered its aptitude standards, which in turn allowed it to meet its recruitment goals for the 2006 budget year.

As the AP reported December 12, "Though Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops." The article further noted, "The Army, which is bearing the brunt of the work in Iraq, did the best. It signed up 6,485 new recruits in November compared with its target of 6,150 -- meaning 105 percent of its goal." It also stated, "The Army also met its goal in the 2006 budget year after missing its target in fiscal year 2005 for the first time since 1999. It added recruiters and offered recruits bonuses to help attract more to the service."

The article did not mention that during the 2006 budget year, the "Army recruited more than 2,600 soldiers under new lower aptitude standards," as the AP reported on October 10. According to that article:

According to statistics obtained by The Associated Press, 3.8 percent of the first-time recruits scored below certain aptitude levels. In previous years, the Army had allowed only 2 percent of its recruits to have low aptitude scores. That limit was increased last year to 4 percent, the maximum allowed by the Defense Department.

[...]

About 17 percent of the first-time recruits, or about 13,600, were accepted under waivers for various medical, moral or criminal problems, including misdemeanor arrests or drunk driving. That is a slight increase from last year, the Army said.

In addition to the AP's omission of the lower aptitude standards, The Gazette's version of the article did not include any mention of the increased public pessimism and dissatisfaction regarding the war in Iraq.

The opening paragraph of the original AP article, for example, read, "Though Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops." In The Gazette, the opening paragraph read, "The Pentagon said Tuesday it is having success enlisting new troops."

The Gazette also omitted the following two AP paragraphs about polls showing that a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the war and President Bush's handling of it:

The progress in recruiting comes as U.S. pessimism over the Iraq campaign mounts, according to a recent AP-Ipsos poll. Some 63 percent of Americans said they don't expect a stable, democratic government to be established in Iraq, up from 54 percent who felt that way in June.

Dissatisfaction with President Bush's handling of Iraq has climbed to an all-time high of 71 percent, according to the AP-Ipsos survey this month. A bipartisan commission last week released its recommendations for a new course and the president held a series of meetings this week to hear from his advisers.

In contrast to the AP piece published in The Gazette, a December 9 article about local military recruiting in the Boulder Daily Camera noted the Army's lower recruitment standards, reporting, "Some reasons cited for the local and national [recruitment] increases: better incentives, more recruiters, lower standards and patriotism." According to the Daily Camera:

Army officials say recruiters have been added to some stations, which has partly affected enlisting numbers. The Associated Press has reported that lower standards also might be contributing to successful recruitment.

In the military year that just ended, 3.8 percent of the Army's first-time recruits scored below aptitude levels. The limit was raised to 4 percent last year -- the maximum allowed by the Department of Defense. In previous years, the Army allowed only 2 percent of its recruits to have low aptitude scores.

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