New Delhi: The US Navy has announced its decision to enlist individuals who have not graduated from high school or obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. This move, the second in about a year, comes as the Navy faces challenges in meeting enlistment targets.Opening doors to lower-performing recruitsThe Navys decision follows a similar move made in December 2022, aiming to bring in recruits who score low on the Armed Services Qualification Test. While rare, these steps highlight the Navys efforts to address the shrinking pool of young people who meet the militarys standards.Under the new plan, individuals without educational credentials can join the Navy if they score 50 or above on the qualification test, out of a total of 99. This marks the first time since 2000 that the Navy has accepted recruits without educational credentials.Vice Admiral Rick Cheeseman, the Navys chief of personnel, highlighted the significance of this decision. He expressed that many individuals interested in joining the Navy lack educational credentials and are turned away annually. Out of over 2,400 individuals turned away last year, approximately 500 could qualify based on their test scores.Addressing recruitment challengesThe COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges to military enlistment efforts, forcing the closure of recruiting stations and limiting access to high schools and public events. Despite the gradual reopening, the military struggled to compete with higher-paying civilian jobs and faced economic uncertainties.In the previous fiscal year, the Navy, along with other branches, failed to meet recruitment goals. Last year, the Navy fell short of its enlistment goal, prompting a higher target for 2024 at 40,600 recruits, compared to 37,700 the previous year.Balancing risk and capacityWhile the Navys decision to enlist lower-performing recruits may raise concerns about boot camp completion rates and disciplinary issues, Vice Adm. Cheeseman believes the risk is manageable. Initial data shows that the failure rates for low-scoring recruits havent significantly differed from high-scoring ones.The Navys move reflects a strategic effort to expand its pool of potential sailors and address recruitment challenges. Despite the risks involved, Navy leadership remains optimistic about the capacity to manage and support recruits through training.In embracing this change, the Navy aims to adapt to evolving recruitment landscapes and tap into untapped talent pools, ensuring a robust and diverse force for the future.