August 14, 2006

Military recruiting violations rise: GAO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Allegations of wrongdoing by U.S.
military recruiters jumped by 50 percent from 2004 to 2005, and
criminal violations such as sexual harassment and falsifying
documents more than doubled, a congressional agency said on

The Government Accountability Office, Congress'
investigative agency, said the full extent of violations by
military recruiters is unknown because the Defense Department
does not have an oversight system.

While the GAO said available information likely
underestimated the problem, it showed that allegations of
recruiter wrongdoing increased to 6,600 cases in fiscal year
2005 from 4,400 a year earlier.

Substantiated cases rose to almost 630 cases from 400, and
criminal violations jumped to 70 from about 30, it said.

The report said the military's roughly 20,000 recruiters
have been under pressure to meet recruiting goals while a
fairly strong economy has sustained a competitive job market
and the death toll in the Iraq war has been rising.

"Determined to find ways to succeed in a challenging
recruiting environment, some recruiters reportedly have
resorted to overly aggressive tactics, such as coercion and
harassment," the GAO report said.

That can hurt recruiting by damaging relationships with
parents, teachers, coaches and others who have influence on
potential applicants, the report said. It also can waste tax
dollars if ineligible applicants are recruited and begin basic
training, but do not enter military service, it said.

The report faulted the Defense Department for not
establishing an "oversight framework" that requires reports on
recruiter violations and sets criteria for characterizing the

It also said the Army, Navy and Air Force measure recruiter
performance primarily by the number of recruits who enlist and
report to basic training, rather than the number who complete
basic training.

The Marine Corps uses basic training attrition rates to
evaluate recruiters, which the GAO said may deter its
recruiters from committing violations.