The Pentagon is considering a policy that would allow military applicants to use calculators on entrance exams as it continues to seek a way to combat the ongoing recruiting crisis.
The new policy would change how applicants take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. Many young Americans have struggled to score high enough on the test to qualify for military service, according to a report from Military.com and confirmed by Fox News Digital.
The test, which both qualifies applicants for enlistment and determines what jobs an applicant is eligible for, has become a barrier for some potential recruits who would have otherwise joined the military, deepening what has already become one of the worst recruiting crises the Pentagon has faced.
"The department is carefully considering the use of calculators for the ASVAB," a defense official told Fox News Digital Monday. "We are taking a systematic approach, which will assess the impact of calculator use, and we are developing a way forward for calculator inclusion based on best practices in test development and psychometric theory."
The Army, Navy, and Air Force are all expected to miss their recruiting goals for the second consecutive year, according to the report, while the Marine Corps and Space Force are expected to hit their needed number. Some of the recruiting woes can be traced back to the ASVAB test, the report said, with many applicants being turned away as a result of their scores on the test.
At the heart of the crisis is a shrinking pool of young Americans who are eligible for enlistment, while the military has also pointed to struggles that have continued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But others have pinned the blame on the military's shift to so-called "woke" politics in recent years, a narrative Army Secretary Christine Wormuth pushed back against in recent months.
"We are a ready Army, not a ‘woke’ Army," Wormuth told reporters in June. "That’s something, frankly, the chief [Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville] and I said throughout posture season in hearings, in meetings with members of Congress."
At a later media roundtable, Wormuth also said part of the blame for the crisis was on those who have accused the military of being "woke."
"I think one of the things that we see that’s contributing to a decline in trust in the military is a concern on both sides of the aisle about politicization of our military leaders," Wormuth said at the time.
"I think the more our military leaders are sort of dragged into spaces that have been politicized like that, I think the more it contributes to this perception that they’re political when they really aren’t," Wormuth added. "So, I hope that we don’t see more of the kind of talk that’s been out in the past few days."
Whatever the reason for the crisis, the military has looked for creative ways to alleviate the shortfall. The Army, which has been the hardest hit by recruiting woes, launched the Future Soldier Preparatory Course last year. The course gives applicants who didn't meet aptitude or body fat standards 90 days to come into compliance with Army standards, with successful recruits then shipping off to basic military training.
The Army has so far graduated 9,216 students through the course, according to Military.com, with 7,045 going through the academic version of the course and 2,171 completing the fitness course.