U.S. flag. (Photo by David Pendered.)

By David Pendered

Georgia sends a lot of recruits to the military. Unfortunately, they are among the lowest quality of individuals who enlist, according to an analysis by the Department of Defense.

The latest DoD report on the demographic and service-related characteristics of U.S. military personnel was issued for the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2019.

The report offers this observation of Georgia’s enlisted:

“It is worth noting that, while Georgia had the third-highest representation ratio in FY19, it also had one of the lowest percentages of recruits who were identified as high quality.”

The military assessed 40.5 percent of Georgia recruits as not of high quality in the report, “Population Representation in the Military Services.”

The military defines “high quality” as a person with a high school diploma who scores 50 percent or higher on a standardized, multiple-choice test of four categories: word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and mathematics knowledge.

Georgia ranks in the bottom five for high-quality recruits. These states and their percent of high-quality recruits are:

46. Louisiana (59.8)
47. Georgia (59.5)
48. District of Columbia (59)
49. Mississippi (58.3)
50. Alabama (57.9)

The top five states for high-quality recruits and their percent of high-quality recruits are:

  1. New Hampshire (77.1)
  2. Idaho (76.6)
  3. Minnesota (75.7)
  4. Montana (75.5)
  5. Vermont (75.5)

As the nation pauses on Veterans Day to honor those who serve and have served in the military, the report provides a snapshot of Georgia at this moment in a decades-long history as a leading provider of military recruits.

In addition, the DOD report is relevant in light of the U.S. Marines’ loss in war games last week to a team involving British commandos. The results have added to speculation about U.S. combat readiness as tensions escalate with actors including China.

The annual Green Dagger exercise, in the Mojave Desert, included a battle between a regiment of U.S. Marines and a regiment of allied forces. The allied force included Great Britain’s new commando group. The allied force ended with control of more than two-thirds of the mock battlefield, after repelling a last-minute assault by U.S. Marines and carrying out raids behind the Marines’ lines, according to a report by the Royal Navy. The U.S. Marines responded that their regiment did not lose because there are no winners or losers in Green Dagger, according to a report by the trade publication Military Times.

The DoD report doesn’t judge recruits. Nor does it assign responsibility to a state’s school system and other factors for influencing recruits’ performance on the intake exam. The report is intended to fulfill a 1974 congressional mandate related to maintaining an authorized strength of force. The idea is for the number of recruits to balance the number of soldiers leaving the military.

This document is cited in various reports on matters such as female representation in the military. The report shows 11 consecutive years of female gains as enlisted members, now at 16.6 percent, and the 12 consecutive years of gains in the officer corps, now at 19.2 percent. The Navy and Air Force have the highest proportion of females among the services.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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  1. “They are among the lowest quality of individuals” surely should have read differently in the lead up to this article. Maybe something like “in skills assessment and basic knowledge recruits in Georgia score much lower than in other states.”

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