John Kerry�s suggestion that U.S. troops in Iraq are uneducated and not "smart� is directly refuted by a new study from the respected Heritage Foundation.
The report "Who Are the Recruits?� by Tim Kane, Ph.D., issued on October 26, states: "A pillar of conventional wisdom about the U.S. military is that the quality of volunteers has been degraded after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq . . .
"Some insist that minorities and the underprivileged are overrepresented in the military. Others accuse the U.S. Army of accepting unqualified enlistees in a futile attempt to meet its recruiting goals in the midst of an unpopular war.�
The conclusion of the in-depth study by Dr. Kane, Director of the Center for International Trade and Economics at the Heritage Foundation: "The current findings show that the demographic characteristics of volunteers have continued to show signs of higher, not lower, quality.�
The findings include:
The high school graduation rate of 2005 military recruits, 96.72, is higher than the rate for the general population, 79.8 percent.
The mean reading level of 2004 recruits is a full grade level higher than that of the comparable youth population.
The percent of recruits who scored in the top percentile of the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, the standardized test administered to determine eligibility for service, rose from 5.63 percent in 2003 to 6.43 percent in 2005.
In 2004, 92.1 percent of those who became active-duty officers held a baccalaureate degree or higher.
From 2000 to 2005, between 35 percent and 45 percent of active-duty officers held advanced degrees.
As for income levels of recruits, the percentage from the poorest U.S. neighborhoods, with one-fifth of the population, declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 13.7 in 2005.
The median household income of recruits in 2005 was higher than in 1999 and higher than the national median, indicating that more recent recruits "come from even wealthier areas than their peers� who enlisted in 1999, according to the study.
The percentage of 2005 recruits with household incomes between $52,071 and $200,000, 22.85 percent, is higher than for the U.S. population ages 18 to 24, 20.02 percent.
African-Americans comprised a smaller percentage of Army recruits in 2005 than their percentage of the overall U.S. population. The same was true for Hispanics.
Dr. Kane concludes: "With regard to income, education, race, and regional background, the all-volunteer force is representative of our nation and meets standards set by Congress and the Department of Defense.
"In contrast to the patronizing slanders of antiwar critics, recruit quality is increasing as the war in Iraq continues.�