The Army and Marines should meet their new end-strength goals without relaxing recruit- ment standards or retention and promotion criteria. Doing so will not be easy in the current environment. Dropping the ban on women serving in combat and repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law will enlarge the pool of potential recruits and make the challenge somewhat easier.
The current target of adding 7,000 soldiers and 5,000 marines per year should only be kept if it does not mean lowering standards; this will ensure that the Army and Marines do not deplete the quality of their force. Recruitment and retention standards should return to at least pre-Iraq standards. Congress must make sure that the overall quality of U.S. military personnel does not slide as it did in the 1970s. It is worth waiting a few extra years, if nec- essary, to ensure that the Army and Marines attract the men and women who possess the specialized skill sets needed for an effective 21st-century military.
Read more recommendations for defense policy in the next administration:
Building a Military for the 21st Century, by Lawrence J. Korb, Peter Juul, Laura Conley, Major Myles B. Caggins III, Sean Duggan