So I used to tell people here to "Join The Army" when they would cry about how terrible their lives were, because it's a great way to turn things around. No one ever did, I don't think, and at some point I was told to stop making the suggestion. Probably in part because I was always a real dick about it. Anyways, fast forward a few years and we're cutting the force from 570K to 520K and possibly lower. Last year my unit, a shit hot infantry battalion, had a reenlistment mission of 55. That is, the Army told us that based on our unit's size (roughly 800 paratroopers), and the Army's overall retention goals (how many people they want to keep in to maintain our target size), we had to get 55 men to sign new contracts. Not everyone is eligible to sign, only folks scheduled to get out in that fiscal year. We made it and them some, of course, because we're awesome. Anyways, this year our mission is 15. 15 out of 93 eligible. It's divided up into Initials, Mid-career, and Careerist, with the numbers weighted toward more junior types. The point though is that back in 2003 - 2006, we would take damn near anyone because there was a war on and we needed bodies. And we had trouble, because most people only want to get shot at it when they just load a saved game afterward. Now, though, the wars are ending and with the economy in the shitter, folks are actively trying to join. Obviously, this lets us be more selective, both in our new recruits and who we keep. Commanders can just tell mediocre soldiers, "Thanks, but no thanks," when they try to re-up. That's awesome, because it avoids substandard folks hanging around collecting a paycheck and stealing oxygen. The same thing happened back in the early 1990s, and it's a trip to see history happening and the Army changing. I love this organization, and now I will love it more since there will be fewer turds. Hilariously, that's on top of American youths mostly being too fat, too weak, and too dumb to join anyways: 75% of Potential Recruits Too Fat, Too Sickly, Too Dumb to Serve | Danger Room | Wired.com It's a bad time to be living with 10% unemployment or whatever it is.