MODERATOR: Well, good afternoon, and thank you for joining us for what we believe is an important topic and an important announcement today, in that the Defense Department is announcing changes today that will improve the enlistment screening process by standardizing enlistment criteria and generating a uniform reporting of waivers and types of waivers across the military departments.
We're fortunate enough today to have with us to walk us through this the -- our deputy undersecretary for Military Personnel and Policy, Bill Carr, who has worked these issues for many years. And we appreciate you taking the time to come down here to explain these -- this new initiative to all of us here.
So with that, he's going to kind of open up and give you an overview of it, and then is prepared to take some of your questions on it. Bill, thank you for joining us.
MR. CARR: You bet.
As you know, this week we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the all-volunteer force. On July 1st, 1973, draft calls were allowed to lapse, and we've been an all-volunteer military ever since.
The AVF over the course of its lifetime has fundamentally changed the military, and I think you've seen that. But let me quantify some ways in which it's changed that might not be so obvious.
As it does change, standards guide us, so the standards we set really determine what kind of force is going to emerge as a consequence of the nation's investments and our efforts.
So what are those standards? Why do we set them? When would we change them and so forth?
Today I'll share with you the culmination of a two-year effort in which the Office of Secretary of Defense, working with the services and a joint group, set about to put additional structure on conduct waivers and really the waiver process generally and it's been successful. And I'll describe some of the details with you. It will achieve what we set out to accomplish by every current indication.
First of all, in the past, when we looked at the volunteer force, we would look at a number of dimensions in determining who could enter the military. Those included, for example: medical qualifications; history of conduct; number of dependents or family size; and drug use by a standard drug screening that most employers use for new employees, and the military's no exception, during initial entry screening. And they were standardized in the area of medical because DOD would establish a standard. For example, in asthma, we would define what the standard was beyond which a person would be considered ineligible. And the same is true for mobility in a leg, hypertension or what have you.
In the other areas, we didn't publish that in department policy. Didn't need to; didn't hurt us. But it also was a void when we sought to present information to the public.
For example: If we said, as we have in past reports, here is the number of misconduct waivers, then one could look at the data that we presented for the Marine Corps and infer that there was a high number of conduct waivers, tenfold beyond other services. Yet what that masked is simply a rule that the Marine Corps had that was tougher than the other services, establishing that a single use of marijuana would require commander review. And if you set that as a standard, you're going to have, in American youth, a lot of reviews and a lot of waivers.
And it was disingenuous -- it just wasn't accurate for us over the years to continue to categorize them as that, yet it did transcend a very tough standard that the court established. And so it was recordable to DOD as a waiver of its standard, and then it slowed through the process and served to misinform and exaggerate the nature of what was going on. So it's pretty clear a couple of years ago that what we had to do was to set some reasonable benchmarks that were commonly subscribed to that represented a minimum threshold, and then we would report and track beyond that to see if there were differences.
By the way, since I used the Marine Corps for an example, let me say that while I mentioned that policy, and therefore there were a number of waivers for that, I would have to say by virtue of their policy, that is as drug-free or more drug-free a service than any other. But again, the data would lead you otherwise, and therefore you were misled. And we had to do something about that, and that brought us to the changes that I'm going to talk with you about today.
But first, let me talk about how the AVF has changed, because that's the platform, that's the basis that we set these standards to produce a certain force. Here's the -- some of the major differences that have occurred over the past 35 years. First of all and, I think, foremost in military performance is seasoning. If we went back to the time of conscription, one in eight draftees would continue beyond their first hitch. With a volunteer force, it's roughly one in two. Now, if you're retaining one in two instead of one in eight, then you're going to have a more seasoned career force. And sure enough, we do.
If you went through the Atlanta airport in the early '70s and there was a normal distribution of military that you saw, one out of five would have been a careerist. The other four would have been a first-termer on their first hitch. One out of five would have been a careerist. Today slightly more than half are careerists. So you're looking at some -- a group that is more seasoned.
Now let me walk that down to a more concrete term. What that translates to is that for someone holding a pay grade of E-6, an Army staff sergeant, that staff sergeant, instead of having what at the start of the AVF was three to four years' experience, holds between seven and eight years of seasoning.
Now, that's the critical position in squads or gun sections, maintenance sections. And so if you have double the seasoning, then you have a much higher performing force.
And I think that's what you're witnessing in the U.S. military that distinguishes it from others, is that the noncommissioned office corps is seasoned. But it goes beyond that. They're also better educated and smarter, as a group, than forces that have come before: better educated in terms of high school diploma grad -- high school diploma graduates. And we prize that because those holding a traditional high school diploma will complete their first term about 80 percent of the time; a non-graduate, half the time. And so it's a good investment. For whatever reason, that is the single best predictor this department has found for predicting stick-to-itiveness or retention. And so we value it.
Also, with regard to math and verbal aptitude, that's important to us because that correlates with the type of performance you're going to have on the job. There was a little booklet that was handed out to you. And if you looked at the first picture in that booklet, what it would show you is our response to the Congress in the mid-80s when they asked, "Why are you going after the kind of quality you're after?" And our answer was that we're going after smart people. And I've used the term "smart" simply to say high math, verbal aptitude. And we're going after them because they perform better.
And to prove that point, with the National Academy of Science, which makes sure in this nation that we're using science correctly -- the department, in a contract with the National Academy of Science, produced a report to the Congress that included the picture you see there, which shows that if you were in the bottom third in math-verbal aptitude versus the top 20 percent, your performance -- and that's measured in hands-on skill test across a range of occupations: infantry, truck driver, radio repair, Navy sonar, Air Force jet maintenance.
There were a series of occupations that are laid out in this report that went to the Congress. And you've got, in that book, a website that takes you to the job performance measures test.
But this was our report to the Congress that said, it's a good investment to spend for those in math-verbal aptitude, because they are so much more productive. Yes, but they're more expensive, the Congress would note. To which we said, fine, we've looked at that and we've compared the increased cost of high math-verbal aptitude, to recruit them, versus the productivity gains that you achieve, with the National Academy of Science.
And when we blend those factors in a model, we could tell you that the optimum mix, for any service at that time, was in the upper 60-percent range. So that would tell us that we'd want to have at least 60 percent of recruits drawn from the top half in math-and- verbal aptitude. And if we did, it would be a cost-effective force mix.
Now, that's a hat trick for an employer to pull off, because that's a lot of research and a lot of parameters. But that is what the research told us. We reported to the Congress. And since 1994, the department has held to the following imperatives.
First, that recruits, 90 percent must be high school diploma grad. We grant certain exceptions for pilot tests, if we think we have a group of GEDs and we're testing a hypothesis of whether that group, of people with a GED, would retain like a high school diploma grad.
But as a rule, 90 percent, 60 percent top-half aptitude, 4 percent from the bottom third. If we looked at the bottom third, that 4 percent is a remarkable achievement because at the start of the AVF, 20 percent of recruits were from the bottom third in math-verbal aptitude.
Because of a mistake in norming the test we use in the 1970s, in '79 and '80, over half of the military recruits in DOD were drawn from the bottom third aptitude. When we renormed the test, that's what it told us. We didn't know we had taken in quite so many.
But you compare that, over half, with today's standard, of a ceiling of 4 percent, and you begin to get an appreciation.
When you look at a group of military carrying out a task and they seem to figure out the ambiguity quickly, it's not a coincidence. They're the ones you went to school with that figure things out.
I make no mention of their grades. They just have aptitude, math/verbal aptitude, that allows them to deal with ambiguity effectively. And it's worth the investment for this employer to make that call, and the Congress agreed and has underwritten those budgets since.
The nation and the Congress have really underwritten the kind of achievements that I mentioned. So if we do have a force that's more seasoned and it's better-educated and it has higher aptitude, by a wide margin, compared to the average of American youth -- and for good reason, because it's cost-effective for the nation to underwrite that, and we've demonstrated that -- when you have that, it's only possible because the administrations over the years, the Congress over the years, the citizens over the years have underwritten it. And the force that they have underwritten has the attributes I described, for the reasons I mentioned, and therefore it's productive.
Now, when it comes to standards, though, and waivers -- let's get into that, because that brings us to really the purpose of today's discussion -- you set a standard because it's going to have something to do with downstream performance. So I'll start with a medical standard. You would set a standard because it has to do with whether or not they're going to be able to make it through without a medical difficulty.
Years ago, until 2003, we had a medical standard that said that if you had used psychotropic Ritalin since age 12, you were disqualified from military service. Now, there was by some accounts a considerable prescribing of Ritalin in America, and a number of young people disqualified. So epidemiologists at Walter Reed said, "Let us look at that." And they did. And their conclusion was that if the person had been off Ritalin for a year and had no adverse consequences in terms of school performance or truancy, it was a safe bet. So we changed that standard, but I wouldn't call that lowering the standard, because you're keeping up with science and achieving the same end and simply allowing more people to participate in the military, if that was their choice, without changing the performance on the other end one bit.
And I'll come back to that, because when we get to conduct, understanding that notion of how to carefully expand a standard is not the same as lowering a standard, because it achieves a noble purpose for exactly the correct population and produces the desired outcome for young people who wish to serve in their military.
And a number are disqualified from serving in the military, unfortunately, and that's a function of a number of things, not the least of which is body fat.
And so we have to work with a number of young people that are qualified, and we do. And we're careful, therefore, about who's qualified, because if we draw the standard too tight or too loose -- if it's too tight we're disqualifying people that could have made it and if it's too loose we're allowing people to enlist who are probably going to fail. So it's always an effort on the part of the services and OSD to set those things correctly.
This all leads to the new policy that is announced today and the essence of which is in those little booklets you've got. It's also on a website that Public Affairs has provided to you. But what the new policy does -- it says essentially this: If we look back in the past, we always subscribe to common joint standards for medical. Now we will do the same for the other areas.
With regard to family size or dependency, the services really were all in about the same place anyway, so we're simply formalizing it, and that is that if you're married, you may have no more than two dependents at the time you enlist and if you're single than even one dependent would require a waiver. Doesn't mean you can't make it, but it does mean somebody's going to be sure that you've got a family plan while you're in basic training and so forth. And that's the reason that that standard is set.
With regard to medical, there's a litany of conditions that are written in great detail in a regulation that we all follow. But you could name any body system and it's well-laid out in terms of what permitted and what's not, because evidence tells us that if it's on the bad side of that, you're probably going to fail. But we're always pushing on those because -- for example, hypertension has been an area where if you were worse than 140 over 90, you would disqualify or if you were at, actually, 140 over 90 you would disqualify. And with the services, in some recent meetings, we're probably going to change that so that if you're truly 140 over 90, since we proved that we nearly always waived up to that level, then we'll migrate the standard to that level with no adverse consequence.
With regard to medical, therefore, it's well-documented. With regard to dependency, a common rule now applies. With regard to drug use, testing positive on the day of your medical screening.
And with regard to conduct -- and that brings us to the reason that we're here today -- how is that working? I mentioned the apples to apples comparison problem when I talked about the - a very rigorous Marine Corps standard dealing with youthful marijuana use one time. And what we - if we can find a means to get all of the services on one sheet, then we should. Now, it's easier said than done, because terms like "felony" and "misdemeanor" get confounding. What is a felony in one state is not a felony in another, and what's a misdemeanor is the same thing. So that didn't deter us. What it does tell us, though, is we should simply be concerned about the offense.
Take an offense, grand theft auto, ask, "Is it a felony in most states?" If the answer is yes, bring them all together under a header called major misconduct. It's not correct to call it a felony, because it's not always a felony. But every - since it's a felony in most states, we'll simply call it major misconduct, and that is the most egregious type of transgression that we'd want to look at.
Similarly, for misconduct, which heretofore were misdemeanors, they are the things where, in most states, it's a misdemeanor. And we call that misconduct.
The third group is nontraffic. An example there would be a very minor infraction, like avoiding a tollbooth or not depositing your change and driving through a tollbooth. So that would be an example of that. And then finally, there's traffic offenses of the usual variety that you're familiar with.
So again, we've said there's four graduations, four groupings that the department will recognize in terms of gravity: major misconduct, mostly felonies; misconduct, mostly misdemeanors; nontraffic, smaller things; and traffic, which is as the name implies.
Now that we know the terms, how many can you have? And that was the second thing that the group had to solve. Once we knew what it was that we were concerned about, then how many of the transgressions could you have? There was enormous similarity in the services that led us to a DOD standard that mimics what had existed in the services. A single felony requires a waiver. Two misconduct, by DOD standards, is going to require a waiver. One misconduct coupled with four non- traffic -- you've got this, by the way, in the directive. It gives this. One misconduct and four non-traffic or five non-traffic -- so to put it in simpler terms: one major, grand theft auto, we'd want a waiver; two misconduct, petty theft, a waiver; one misconduct, petty theft, along with four non-traffic, running a toll booth, is a waiver.
That's very similar to what had existed in the services, but it's not the same. But the important part is that now it is the same. Everybody's on the same sheet.
Those are the minimum standards. The services could set a higher standard, as is the case with medical conditions, but not a lower standard. Each time the standard was encroached, then it would have to be reported as part of an annual report so that we can keep an eye on it.
That brings us to the second improvement that you'll notice in there. You'll see a lot of different codes. For example, major misconduct, grand theft auto, has a specific code associated with it. That means that we're always going to be collecting it and reporting it the same way; all services, DOD and we're talking apples and apples.
So if we did want to do comparisons, over time or across services, we can instantly do it. And again that didn't exist in the past. It starts up this fall. And that gives us a capability for systematic review.
So we know what the offenses are. And if I present to you as a recruiter with that offense, you'll document it on a form. And there's a place to put that. It will be collected in information systems. And if it requires a waiver, it will be adjudicated.
Now, importantly, because it has a code, going back to the Ritalin example, we can then track downstream performance and attrition and determine whether or not a particular type of thing is a real big problem.
Now, the research to this point suggests that the problem is less likely to emerge from a single major misconduct as it would be from a pattern of minor stuff. So then it's real important.
In other words, if one had a major misconduct, arson -- I set a beehive on fire; the shed next to it caught fire; I was charged with arson -- real case -- then that's a major misconduct. And that's one type of person.
Another type is that I had a pattern of behavior. I had petty theft and I ran a toll booth four times. The research is suggesting at this point but it's limited, because we didn't have standard data sets. But the research we've had done to this point, at OSD, says that the pattern offender is the one more likely to have problems downstream.
Doesn't mean that you won't have someone guilty of serious misconduct, that does something seriously wrong later in their career, because you will. Likewise you'll have somebody with a misdemeanor from Idaho, coupled with a number of others from Idaho, and therefore infer that Idaho has a correlation.
There's -- there are behaviors that accrue that can be predicted based on past performance. And again, a major misconduct has predictive power. But as a group, as a large group, it's not as predictive as are a series of small things. But that's why we have set this policy in force, so that we and the services can gather that, display it systematically, talk about it and decide if a particular type of offense is more bothersome to us than others, just like that a psychotropic drug is more bothersome to us than an aspirin. So we can track it and see what effect it has on attrition and performance. And that really is what we've achieved here over the past two years that's coming through today.
Armed with that, you can see the way we're tracking it. We have a taxonomy for the offenses, tracking system to collect and compare with downstream attrition patterns, for example, or adverse discharges, all of which we have in our information systems, allow us, then, to make more informed choices on the front end, just as we do with medical standards. And it's no more complicated than that.
So that's what brought us to today, again, a concern that we could not -- I could not present to you apples and apples, and when I presented to you what I did, I would mischaracterize a service, as in the example I used earlier. That's not constructive for anybody, and the only way to fix it is to create standard terms and standard thresholds so that, not unlike the medical standards, we're all going at this enterprise the same way.
And the services were terrific in the cooperation on this. They're not remarkably different from standards that they had. In some cases they are. But there is one standard, just like medical, for DOD, but that does not mean a service can't set a higher standard.
That also does not mean they could not waive to a lower standard. But those are what we're keeping an eye on, talking about together to be sure it's a good bet, just as we would with bottom third aptitude group or a particularly compromising medical condition.
So I'll stop there and say that's what's in the policy. That's what went into it. That's what it's intended to achieve, is an AVF that in 20 or 35 years from now, those in this room could look and have be as impressed as what our forebears did.
But unless we do things like this, we risk that kind of success -- or at least this enhances it. And so this is going to be a constructive policy, we think, in accuracy of communication between us, but also the validity of the standards we establish in allowing people to serve in the military.
Q Sir, if I understand the last part you said, each of the services can either set a higher standard or waive for lower standard. So if I understand you correctly, each of the services can still determine their standards for a waiver. For example, the Marine Corps can continue to require a waiver for an admission of one-time marijuana use. Is that correct?
MR. CARR: They could, and we wouldn't report it because it doesn't violate our standards. So it could, and therefore it's important to the commandant, but it's not important to the Chief of Staff of the Army or the Secretary of Defense. What is important to them is the standards they have set. So you're quite right. As an internal matter, certainly the Marine Corps could keep that standard, measure against it, but we're not planning to collect that kind of information.
Q So if each of the services has the freedom to set their standards, is it accurate to say what's being standardized more is the terminology of these waivers so that everyone can have an apples-to- apples comparison?
MR. CARR: Yeah, that's probably fair. It is, though, so that -- when we say each service can set its own standards, I can't let that go real easily, because this does have some meaning, and we in the services knew it as we were developing this. When you publish a joint standard, then some of your discretion is forfeited. And so, in other words, we have established a common plank beyond which we do want to be informed. So heretofore you wouldn't have had to inform on some of these things but now we've set one common standard, take the offense, and if it is waived then we would know about it.
Q So then, it seems as if now, if there's these standard numbers that DOD presumably will put out next year for 2008, then the discrepancy's now going to be between the Marine Corps and DOD, because they'll have waivered in x number of people for one-time marijuana use, but Department of Defense isn't going to report that. So you still have the discrepancy there. I mean, was there any talk of changing all the standards and saying that this is what each service has to do and has to allow and has to provide a waiver for?
MR. CARR: There was, but in achieving that, the Marine Corps -- I'm not sure if they'll keep the standard for 10 years or not, but it's certainly their option, because at the end of the day they, as a service, field a Marine Corps with a certain set of attributes endemic to the Marine Corps as determined by the Commandant, the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense.
And so they set that, and they should be empowered to achieve it.
What we've done here, though, is said if you have any of these types of transgressions, it's major, and if you have even one major, you have to tell us about it, if you brought them in. That creates a pulse for the secretary of Defense, for example, with the secretaries of military departments, to take a look at what's going on, and we can, as staff, talk to them that much more intelligently about what occurred.
Q But are you concerned that once the policy is set into effect, the first time you report the numbers, there's going to be criticism that the Pentagon's underreporting the number of waivers, because the services will presumably come out with --
MR. CARR: I would if it was remarkably different, but you be the judge. You've got the things right there, and you're -- you see what we're collecting and how we're collecting it. The universe of possibilities is there. So if -- in the case of conduct, the universe of possibilities is there. And the case we're talking about is captured systematically by drug test. And so frankly the joint standard would say there will be drug testing not unlike what other employers have had, as opposed to self-disclosure, which has its own limitations. So we'll just systematically do it one way.
But it really is now relegated, insofar as this joint vernacular, to whether or not I tested positive for the drug, not whether I told my recruiter or the physician during the examination about what I -- how many times I'd used marijuana as a youngster. And so it's more systematic and consistent in the way we're collecting it. And I think it's a practice that matches what most of America's doing.
Q In trying to pinpoint a little bit more closely what problem this fixes or is supposed to fix, is the problem that you don't feel that you all have a good enough handle on the waivers and on the numbers, or is the problem that you believe there are too many waivers? And do you believe that this is going to reduce that number?
MR. CARR: The problem is that we couldn't judge whether we should -- we had a good standard or a bad standard, because to do that, you've got to track the attribute against the behavior; the offense, that I had a major misconduct, and those with major misconduct always attrite and leave early.
So we couldn't do that and now we can. And that's important for a large enterprise to do. Moreover we can do it across service boundaries. And it makes us that much more simple, consistent and uniform in the way we describe ourselves, to ourselves and to you.
Q (Off mike) to this point now reducing the number of waivers. Do you think it will reduce the number of waivers for these… (Off mike)?
MR. CARR: Remains to be seen. I think it wouldn't have much of an impact, because the universe of possibilities resides there in, if you look at the codes and the offenses, that's pretty much the universe of offenses that one could commit.
So it would affect waiver reporting to the extent that a service had an extraordinary standard. It would know about that. But that's not of concern to other services. Nor by this decision is it of concern to the department.
The department must pick the things that it holds important, be clear about them and then measure them, to be sure they're as important 10 years from now as they were this year, because it might change.
So that's more about what's accomplished. So if it changed the number, it would only be because the earlier number included content that we're not interested in any longer and shouldn't have been interested in and probably weren't interested in, as it was being reported all along.
Q It would appear that the end result of this will be a change in the statistics, not a change in the composition of the force. You're likely to get the same kind of people coming in as you were before this. But your statistics will be different. That's the way I'm interpreting this.
MR. CARR: Well, the -- over the years, I disagree and I would answer it this way quantitatively.
Over the years, if we looked at the way standards have existed in the services, we find, for example, that two, three, or four misconduct, misdemeanors, would not require a waiver -- not necessarily today, but we find that over time. So the services have been at liberty to establish that. Today, it's a steady, constant two.
So if we were reporting against what heretofore had been three or four -- and I wouldn't hear about it unless -- the department wouldn't hear about it unless that had been encroached, now we uniformly hear about it at the level of two. So we've anchored, and we've anchored at a tight point so that we can consistently measure.
If we don't do that and if we had no -- relative to the past, then you would accept a greater number of misdemeanors than where we've presently anchored at two, because in recent years past, three have been allowed in a couple of services. Now it's two. So it'll change the statistic.
In other words, it's not just about repainting it. It actually sets a bar. And you can see what that bar is and judge its merit.
Q Do you expect all the services to adopt this new standard? And do you want them to adopt this new standard?
MR. CARR: We all adopt the standard because we're all subject to the rules that the Defense Department would set for us. So in this case, by establishing it as a rule, it is adopted in the department, of which the services are members.
Whether that service would generate a tougher standard would be up to them, as it is with medical and is often done, but they couldn't and wouldn't adopt one that was lower than what the secretary had asked of them.
Q I guess my real question is, would you rather they not adopt a higher standard?
MR. CARR: No, I'd really leave that to them. It's for the service chiefs and secretaries. They must deliver a service that meets the expectations that they've set, that their institution has set. And the services are not monolithic. If it ever became monolithic, we wouldn't have four services. But they are different in their attributes, in some aspects of their ethos and their physical training. So there are differences across the services, and those who lead those services maintain the liberty to set a higher standard if that's their wish. But in setting a higher standard, costs go up, and they're mindful of that, too.
Q Do you any of the services have a standard that is currently lower than this new standard?
MR. CARR: Do any of them --
Q Army, Air Force, Navy. Do they have a standard that is not as -- that for example, they could require, instead of one major misconduct incident for a waiver, they could say, "Well, we need two. You can -- you're allowed up to two" or --
MR. CARR: I think the answer is no, but there is some -- another dynamic in here. When we put the codes in the places we have, we've labeled whether it's major and so forth. So in answer to the question, are the other services going to find two today to be a tougher standard, no. But within the things that count against that two, they might. It would depend on what they had categorized within their own rule making as misconduct before. So petty theft, if they had characterized that as nontraffic, and now we have said it's characterized as misconduct or misdemeanor, well, then that tightens it up for them, because heretofore it wasn't reportable as misconduct, yet maybe as nontraffic.
Q I have to admit I'm confused, because, from what I'm hearing, what is sounds is the main benefit of this is for reporting purposes and that the military services still retain the right to determine the criteria for waivers, for conduct waivers. So I guess the question is, what am I missing? What am I not understanding?
MR. CARR: It is about reporting. And with regard to conduct waivers, no longer is it a unilateral authority. In other words, prior to this, there was no Defense standard, and so a service could set it.
Let me go to medical again, because that sometimes is helpful. We -- when we set a medical standard and we publish it and say that's what we all subscribe to, that is the standard. Perhaps in years prior, you would have found it necessary to relax it or tighten it based on facts that you were receiving in service. Now we're all going to hold it steady and change it together. So there is less option, because the floors are now set by an external agent.
Q But you said the services can waive to a lower standard, earlier in the --
MR. CARR: They can waive to a lower standard, but it's reportable. So in other words, if a service chose -- well, I'm sorry, with regard to whether one major -- that's it. I'm sorry. Now, I see your point and it's my fault. They can allow waivers of the offenses, but if we have said one major misconduct requires a waiver, then any time they take a person with misconduct, a waiver must be generated and documented for the cited offense.
Q To change, to body weight standards -- body fat -- you didn't get into body fat standards. Is that a uniform standards of that?
MR. CARR: That's medical. And yes, it is service-specific. So body fat is a service-specific criterion. It's measured by a joint activity that conducts the medical screening, but it's accomplished to service standard.
Q To clarify an earlier answer, did you say that none of the services currently have lower standards than this new standard?
MR. CARR: Effective now they don't, and they can't.
Q No, I mean before. The previous service standards, were any of those lower than this new standard?
DENNIS DROGO (Air Force chief of enlisted accessions policy): It's difficult to make that comparison. Going back to what Mr. Carr --
Q You need a --
MR. CARR: This, by the way, is Dennis Drogo, who is a career recruiter who has operated in our enterprise for a long time. And Dennis was instrumental to the development of policy. So, Dennis Drogo, D-R-O-G-O.
MR. DROGO: Thanks, Mr. Carr.
I think it's difficult to make that comparison because as part of the process we recategorized the offenses. That goes back to what you said a minute ago. So you can't necessarily say what required a waiver before is either more or less stringent now. It's different, is really the answer, just because of the way we've categorized.
Some of the services, previously, would categorize their offenses in five or six different categories. Some would categorize them in four. So to say something's more stringent -- I mean, they're comparing apples and oranges, to go back to what Mr. Carr was saying. You really can't make that comparison. It really becomes something different than what it was previously.
MR. CARR: So in other words, I guess we'd say if you take the universe of offenses, a service, heretofore, could have had five buckets. Now we have three buckets. Is that any more stringent? Well, it depends on what buckets.
So I think that's the point Dennis was making, is he can't directly say it's more or less unless you inspected the buckets. And even so, you're talking about three groups versus five. It is almost -- it can't be directly answered, because the offenses were in groups that now is a different set of groups, and so more stringent is answerable -- if you say, "What do you mean by 'stringent,'" bucket three versus bucket four, what was bucket four defined as -- so I don't know how to really do justice to that.
And it's not quibbling. It's just that it's not directly translatable, which is the point of systematizing the information so that henceforth it always be will directly translatable.
MR. CARR: Does that -- (inaudible) --
Q Well, can you say which institution has had to change their standards more than any of the others to meet these new standards?
MR. CARR: Go ahead, Dennis.
MR. DROGO: I think each of the services had to realign the way they -- their business practices, if you will. It goes back -- and I hate to keep repeating myself, but it's just different. I mean, what they did in the past is not what they will do in the future. Some of it remains the same, but some of it will be required to change based on our new policy.
MR. CARR: I think if you went to -- will the soldier of tomorrow, the Marine of tomorrow be remarkably different from the Marine of today? Probably not, and probably doesn't need to be. But we all have an interest in knowing whether we can improve the standards.
Now, should we admit someone to the military that has a particular offense? If we know over a period of time and can correlate the offense with the career success, then we'll know the answer to that, and this will allow us to do that. So we have a taxonomy of the types of offenses that someone would have committed. We can cross-walk that and then adjust our policies for intake, our screening, so that we can ensure a higher probability of success among those we're bringing in.
So again, an offense deficiency is not unlike a medical deficiency, in that it has some predictive power. But its predictive power is known only when you create the correlations with a good-sized population and a known attribute. And the attributes have been all over the map until we put them in this taxonomy. Now we've got them in specific categories, and we'll be able to do the research more reliably.
But will the Marine or the soldier tomorrow be much different from today?
No, and I would submit in 2007, they were not much different from 2006. But there were some differences. There were a few hundred more felonies. By all indications, it's a safe bet, but you want to know what those are. And it certainly was important to some journalists.
And therefore we have a duty to be able to respond empirically, if it is of interest to any American to respond quantifiably. And that's what this will allow us to do, but heretofore we didn't. And so if we said, what were those felonies, then we were hard-pressed to answer that.
But in any event, by virtue of the taxonomy, we can keep track of things; judge whether or not we should turn up the volume or down the volume, to allow more or fewer people in, based on whether that attribute matters, to performance and retention.
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