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Pentagon Reports Increase in 'High Quality' Recruits

November 04, 1994|RICHARD A. SERRANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — U.S. military recruiters, criticized earlier this year for finding too few high school graduates willing to join the armed forces, are persuading more "high quality" young men and women to enlist, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Defense Department officials said they are meeting recruitment goals despite public perceptions that the military is not seeking new enlistees because of the current downsizing, and they added that minority representation is staying strong while the number of female enlistees is growing.

Fiscal year 1994, which just ended, was the third best year in military recruiting since the all-volunteer service was begun in 1973, they said. They also noted that 96% of the new recruits have high school diplomas and that 72% scored high on scholastic aptitude tests--both improvements over previous years and both signs of the "high quality" of new soldiers and sailors.

Ironically, the new figures come at a time when there is a smaller pool of young people to choose from and when the military has been publicly skewered for everything from sexual harassment against women to job reprisals against homosexuals in uniform.

But Pentagon leaders said an aggressive advertising campaign begun this summer is paying off and that the military is becoming more selective in its choice of new enlistees.

"Quality is important to us," said Deputy Defense Secretary John M. Deutch.

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