term of military service (Flyer, 1959; Elster and Flyer, 1981). Research shows that educational attainment of youth predicts first-term military attrition (U.S. Department of Defense, 1996; Laurence, 1997). In consultation with the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences, DoD developed a mathematical model that links recruit quality and recruiting resources to job performance (U.S. Department of Defense, 2000). The model was then used to establish the recruit quality benchmarks now in effect. Service programs are required to ensure that a minimum of 90 percent of first-time recruits are high school diploma graduates. At least 60 percent of recruits must be drawn from AFQT Categories I–IIIA; no more than 4 percent of the recruits can come from Category IV. This DoD policy does not prohibit the Services from setting their own targets above these benchmarks. These benchmarks were set by examining the relationship between costs associated with recruiting, training, attrition, and retention using as a standard the performance level obtained by the reference cohort of 1990, the cohort that served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Thus, these benchmarks reflect the recruit quality levels necessary to minimize personnel and training costs while maintaining Desert Shield/Desert Storm cohort performance (Sellman, 1998).
The Services have different standards for individuals in each tier. Generally, Tier 3 applicants must have higher AFQT test scores than Tier 2 applicants, who must have higher test scores than Tier 1 individuals.
If an applicant achieves qualifying ASVAB scores and wants to continue the application process, he or she is scheduled for a physical examination and background review at one of the MEPS. The examination assesses medical fitness for military service. It includes measurement of blood pressure, pulse, visual acuity, and hearing; blood testing and urinalysis; drug and HIV testing; and medical history. Some Services also require tests of strength and endurance. If a correctable or temporary medical problem is detected, the applicant may be required to get treatment before proceeding. Other applicants may require a Service waiver of some disqualifying medical conditions before being allowed to enlist.
Each applicant must meet rigorous moral character standards. In addition to the initial screening by the recruiter, an interview covering each applicant’s background is conducted at the MEPS. For some individuals,