BRIGHT SPOTS

Army Tightens Recruiting Standards

Sorry, felons and drug users, the Army will no longer hand you a weapon and fly you into a war zone. Now, for the first time since 2004, the Army will meet its standard of 90 percent of recruits with a high school diploma. Only two years ago, there was concern the Army might break down under the strain of repeated deployments and low standards. But thanks to the economy and a safer Iraq, joining the armed forces is not looking so bad. Also, more soldiers are electing to stay in uniform, so the Army has been able to reduce its quota for new trainees. The Pentagon's top recruiting official explained the economy's effect on attracting young men and women: "Those who are last hired tend to be first fired. They would then view the military option more favorably."