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A Few Convicted Men

The need for boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan has apparently resulted in a significant jump in the number of soldiers serving with felony records. In the past two years, the military has exponentially increased the number of “personnel waivers” it normally approves, allowing those who normally couldn’t enlist because of criminal backgrounds to join up.

The house oversight committee obtained documents today showing that between 2006 and 2007 Army-issued personnel waivers went from 249 to 511. Marine-issued waivers jumped from 208 to 350. These include 87 enlistees who have been convicted of aggravated assault, of which nine were also convicted of a sexual assault.

The trend is almost certainly due to the 170,000 troops the U.S. committed to Iraq during the surge, along with 31,000 troops in Afghanistan. Both numbers are record-high troop levels. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the number of troops in Iraq has put on an unsustainable strain on the U.S. military. President Bush and General Petreaus aren’t following Gate’s orders for a quicker drawdown. But the stats would seem to boost the argument that the army is making unreasonable compromises.

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