Navy’s Bold Move Sparks Controversy

The U.S. Navy is making a rare move by accepting recruits without high school diplomas or GEDs for the second time in a year. The decision to enlist individuals with lower scores on the Armed Services Qualification Test, made in December 2022, is part of an effort to address challenges in meeting recruitment targets.

This move, unusual in military branches, allows individuals without educational credentials to enlist if they score 50 or higher on the qualification test. The last time the Navy adopted such a policy was in the year 2000.

Vice Admiral Rick Cheeseman, the Navy’s chief of personnel, highlighted the need for the initiative, stating, “We get thousands of people into our recruiting stations every year that want to join the Navy but do not have an education credential. And we just turn them away.”

In response to challenges faced during the pandemic, Cheeseman has instructed recruiters to enhance their efforts to reach potential recruits. He acknowledged that, after the pandemic restrictions lifted, the military had difficulty competing with well-paying private sector jobs, which offered attractive benefits like financial support for college education.

While concerns about higher dropout rates during boot camp for these recruits exist, Cheeseman emphasized that, so far, there hasn’t been a significant difference compared to their higher-scoring counterparts. The decision to open enlistment to individuals without high school credentials aims to broaden the potential pool of recruits, addressing the current capacity of boot camp that is not being fully utilized.