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Pentagon Standardizes Enlistment Waiver Reporting System

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2008 – A new enlistment waiver-reporting policy for all of the services that establishes four groupings and uses numeric coding for specific transgressions will assist the Pentagon to better gauge force quality, a senior defense official said here today.

By dividing waiver terminology into four separate groupings and employing codes to identify transgressions, “we can keep [better] track of things, judge whether … to allow more or fewer people in, based on whether that attribute matters to performance and retention,” Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, told reporters during a Pentagon news conference.

Each armed service is to align its waiver-reporting procedures according to the new policy guidelines that become effective this fall, Carr said. Each service, he noted, had categorized offenses differently before the change.

The policy change won’t affect the high quality of recruits that join today’s all-volunteer military, Carr emphasized. Today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, he said, are the best quality ever.

Under the new policy, waiver groupings are divided into four categories: traffic offenses, nontraffic offenses, misconduct offenses and major misconduct offenses, Carr explained. Transgressions in the misconduct column are what are commonly known as misdemeanors, he said, while major misconduct transgressions are akin to felonies.

Today, about one in five recruits requires some kind of waiver to enlist, according to Pentagon statistics. About two-thirds of those waivers involve petty infractions of the law; the other third involve health concerns, low aptitude scores and other issues.

Most waivers issued to recruits involve youthful misconduct, according to a Pentagon news release issued today. One-third of medical waivers are issued for too-high body fat, according to the release.

“Waivers have long been a part of the enlistment process, allowing communities a greater voice in identifying young persons who, despite factors such as youthful misconduct, are judged trustworthy and capable, and found fully qualified for service in the armed forces,” Carr stated in the news release.

The all-volunteer military that’s been in place since July 1, 1973, is a proven success story, David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, reported Feb. 26 during a U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The vast majority of today’s military enlistees meet a high-quality education standard, possessing a high school diploma or a general equivalency degree, Chu told legislators, adding that the percentage of military members with either a high school diploma or a GED surpasses the national average of 80 percent.

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David S. C. Chu
Bill Carr

Related Sites:
Special Report: All-Volunteer Force Celebrates 35 Years
Defense Department News Release

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