Newly released documents show that the Army is being more selective about who it allows in.
According to documents, last year there no recruits with misconduct convictions, or drug or alcohol issues.
Current soldiers aren't exempt from the tougher standards: they too must maintain high levels of conduct in order to stay on for another tour in uniform.
During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Army loosened their standards in order to have enough boots on the ground. Recruits with misdemeanors and certain felonies were given waivers to join the Army; felons had typical committed crimes such as manslaughter, vehicular homicide, robbery and consensual sex with a minor.
Prospective soldiers with low aptitude scores and typically disqualifying medical issues were permitted to join.
By 2007, three in 10 new recruits had some sort of waiver to join the Army. While military officials defended the decision as preventing mistakes in the past from allowing otherwise good soldiers to serve their country, mid-level officers serving overseas argued that it was instead breeding too much bad behavior in combat zones.
In some instances, soldiers allowed to serve on misconduct waivers have gone on to committing serious crimes. Steven Dale Green, a former 101st Airborne Division Soldier, was given a waiver for his drug background. While in Iraq, he gang-raped a 14-year-old girl, before killing her and her entire family. He is serving five life sentences.
Since 2009, the number of those receiving waivers has begun to go down, with only 10 percent of soldiers in 2011 needing a waiver to join. Most of those waivers were for medical reasons, not conduct. In 2009, 546 misconduct waivers were given, including 220 for convictions--in 2011, that number dropped to 189.
The Army is also reducing the number of bonuses to attract recruits or entice soldiers to stay on active duty.
Military leaders say by weeding out the unqualified, the smaller Army will become stronger and more efficient, having the right soldiers in critical positions.
This is all part of an effort to slash the size of the active duty Army from its peak of about 570,000 during the height of the Iraq War to 490,000 by 2017.
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