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Fighting crime
by Asa Butcher
2007-02-16 09:56:24
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When I think of criminals being recruited by the Army my mind turns immediately to the classic war film The Dirty Dozen that follows a disparate bunch of lowlifes granted freedom from prison if they agree to a highly dangerous mission. Of course, they kill without emotion, some are borderline psychotic and you are on the verge of feeling sympathy for the Nazis they have been sent to kill.

Thankfully the Army and Marine Corps have yet to descend to the depths of recruiting rapists, murders and psychopaths, but they are on that path. According to data compiled by the US Defense Department, the number of recruits needing waivers for felonies and serious misdemeanours has notably increased in the last few years. This isn’t anything novel for the US Armed Forces, but the scale on which it now occurs is beginning to make many sit up and take note.

Not only are waivers being given to recruits with criminal records, but also medical problems or low aptitude scores that would usually disqualify them from service. I have never been a soldier, but even I realise that having a physically useless idiot in your platoon is not good for morale. If a soldier suspects that somebody in his unit is not fit for duty, but doesn’t know who that is, then this seriously undermines trust in those around him.

You may ask how clever do you have to be to fire a gun, but there is obviously a great deal more than that. You must have the capacity to act under intense pressure, cope with the mental stress, evaluate danger and use common sense, which is something even able-bodied men struggle with, such as the Commander-in-Chief back in the White House. How can recruiters justify dumbing down a process that may later endanger soldiers that did meet the requirements?

Ignoring the fact that some new recruits are either physically or mentally deficient, we have the other fact that most waivers are for petty crimes, such as petty theft, writing a bad check, traffic and drug offences, and some assault. Are these people being sent to Iraq with digital cameras and orders to report to Abu-Ghraib Prison Facility? I understand that some of these are petty, but others are not, especially assault and drug offences – I guess there is always the old adage: Travel broadens the criminal mind.

The concern that this war has forced the US Army to lower their moral standards is certainly justified, especially if I was the father of one of those currently serving. I would be thinking that a threat may now originate from another American soldier as well as insurgents, but the biggest question that has come to mind while writing this article is: How come the US Army and Marine Corps is happy to relax the rules about recruiting criminals, but is still obsessed over whether a soldier is gay?

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Sand2007-02-16 10:08:28
Since war is a social phenomenon which removes a good deal of the inhibitions preservd in civilized society to behave decently towards any other human being the further chaos incurred by employing people who have discarded those inhibitions in normal civilian activity should not disturb military activity to any large extent. The theory that, within any military group, decent behavior is expected not accorded to those outside the group may cause some difficulty with individuals not so restrained.

Born in the U.S.A2007-02-19 15:43:44
Sending felons to Iraq ? to fight other criminals ? I say way toooo gooo...yahhoo,, keep the church boys at home to go the schools and get PHD's

So, sending felons over to Iraq to fight suicide bombers and other murderers is a great idea, better then housing them in a box where my tax money just keeps them eating and watching TV...Good , give them a 2nd chance and let them prove their worth...

I will vote for that idea any day...BTW, I was a U.S Marine for 4 years. And I have nooo problem with it.

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