Despite aggressive (and creative) recruiting tactics, and a $4B budget, the U.S. Army failed to meet its recruiting goal in 2007, according to a report by the National Priorities Project.
Even worse than missing the numbers, the Army continues to see a change in who is being recruited. For the third consecutive year they failed to get sufficient numbers of recruits with high school diplomas, which the Army reports is the single best predictor of successful completion of a first term of enlistment.
In addition, historically, the Army had a goal of at least 67% of recruits landing in at least the 50th percentile of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT, which tests word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning, and mathematics knowledge; more details here). Since 2005 this number has fallen and in 2007 it was 60.8%.
The Army puts educational attainment and AFQT scores together for a measure of "quality." According to the report:
A ‘high quality’ recruit is one who scores at or above the 50th percentile on the AFQT, and who is tier I (has a regular high school diploma or better). The DoD strives to have all recruits be ‘high quality’ as these recruits will be more likely to complete contracted enlistment terms and perform better in training and on the job.
Unfortunately the percentage of "high quality" recruits continues to drop. In 2005 it was 56.2%. Last year it was 44.6%.
The report includes state-by-state tables as well as a discussion of what the implications of this recruiting challenge are for the Army. Worth a look.