December 31, 2004

More reasons the U.S. Army has improved:

A recent Atlantic Monthly article by Robert D. Kaplan quotes a colonel on how much the Army has improved during his couple of decades of service. He attributed much of the improved relations between officers and men to the recent spread of evangelical Christianity, and the consequent decline in drinking. Since officers and men are not allowed to drink in the same room, back in the days when most free time was devoted to drinking, the ranks almost never came in contact off duty.

Today, officers and men share more in common. I'd also add that since the downsizing of the military in 1992, the IQ gap between officers and enlisted has shrunk: For the last dozen years, about 65-70% of new enlistees score over the national average on the IQ test the military gives all applicants for enlistment. Only about 1% of new enlistees have scored below the 30th percentile (around 90 on the usual IQ scale), so officers and enlisted people can now communicate in a more egalitarian fashion than in previous eras. I don't believe that the IQs of officers have gone up as much -- the average SAT scores of West Point cadets are now lower than, say, U. of Illinois freshmen.

By the way, you've probably heard of how awful was the quality of enlisted personnel in the late 1970s, but you've probably never head of the most direct cause: the "misnorming" fiasco. The military's norms for scoring applicant's entrance tests results on the new ASVAB (the 10 subtest exam of which four are the highly g-loaded IQ-like tests used in The Bell Curve) were wrong (too easy), and thus the military let in many applicants from 1976-1980 that they would have rejected if they had known how stupid they really were.

The Reagan-era reforms, such as higher pay, more Be All You Can Be recruiting advertising, and more patriotism brought in a higher quality of soldier, but for several years in the late 1970s, the military couldn't figure out why its new recruits were so much more incompetent on average than the recruiters said they would be.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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