July 25, 2023

Expanding the Future Soldier Prep Course solves the wrong problem

The U.S. Army has announced a pilot program for the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, expanding eligibility by lowering the minimum score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). This is another attempt by the Army to close the gap in its recruiting shortfall by accepting more recruits who would otherwise not qualify to serve. However, expanding academic eligibility does not solve the problems that the Army is facing with recruiting. The Army would be better served by eliminating its academic minimums altogether and increasing its presence out in the community, to include schools, as a way to better promote military service.

The Army is adjusting its minimum standards in order to provide a fraction of those who want to serve the opportunity to do so.

The Future Soldier Preparatory Course launched in August 2022 amid a recruiting struggle across all services. The course is designed to take would-be soldiers who were not qualified — either academically or physically — and put them through an intense course to meet those minimum standards of service. Nearly 6,100 have graduated and subsequently passed basic training (this number also includes recruits in the physical fitness track, who previously failed to pass physical, rather than academic, standards). While physical fitness can surely be improved over a short period of time and instill lasting change, questions remain regarding the academic program which is focused solely on passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), part of which is the AFQT.

Read the full story and more from Army Times.

Lt. Cmdr. Stewart Latwin is the Navy Federal Executive Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect those of the U.S. Navy or the Department of Defense.

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