Less hot under the collar than This Year's Model, Armed Forces was partly inspired by Elvis Costello and the Attractions' 1978 American tour. The songs are set to deceptively poppy arrangements that use plinky Abba keyboards ("Oliver's Army," a hit single about mercenaries), Beatles-ish devices (the fade on "Party Girl"), and whimsical waltz-time signatures ("Sunday's Best") to mask their core cynicism. "Goon Squad," "Busy Bodies," and "Accidents Will Happen" are among Costello's most melodically powerful songs to this point, leading the way to the masterful Get Happy!!. --Barney Hoskyns
Whereas recruits who join as officers tend to be upwardly-mobile, most enlisted personnel have a childhood background of relative socio-economic deprivation. For example, after the US suspended conscription in 1973, "the military disproportionately attracted African American men, men from lower-status socioeconomic backgrounds, men who had been in nonacademic high school programs, and men whose high school grades tended to be low".
As to the original studio album ("Armed Forces", the supposedly main disc), it's great, though not up to "This Year's Model" which is easily my favorite EC album. The lyrics on the album are especially great. One problem I have though is that the sound quality should be better. I don't know what the problem is, if the source tape is somewhat degraded or if the remastering has been over or under done. It's not terrible, just seems like it should be substantially better fidelity for a recording of a successful (by then) artist at that point in time. That's why I'm knocking off one star, otherwise it would get five stars from me. But the Hollywood High part alone would get five stars, so you might think of this as a great live album plus bonus studio tracks.
While considered part of the non-commissioned officer corps by law, senior non-commissioned officers (SNCOs) referred to as chief petty officers in the Navy and Coast Guard, or staff non-commissioned officers in the Marine Corps, perform duties more focused on leadership rather than technical expertise. Promotion to the SNCO ranks, E-7 through E-9 (E-6 through E-9 in the Marine Corps) is highly competitive. Personnel totals at the pay grades of E-8 and E-9 are limited by federal law to 2.5 percent and 1 percent of a service's enlisted force, respectively. SNCOs act as leaders of small units and as staff. Some SNCOs manage programs at headquarters level and a select few wield responsibility at the highest levels of the military structure. Most unit commanders have a SNCO as an enlisted advisor. All SNCOs are expected to mentor junior commissioned officers as well as the enlisted in their duty sections. The typical enlistee can expect to attain SNCO rank after 10 to 16 years of service.
Examinees also receive a score on what is called the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). AFQT scores are computed using the Standard Scores from four ASVAB subtests: Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), and Word Knowledge (WK). AFQT scores are reported as percentiles between 1-99. An AFQT percentile score indicates the percentage of examinees in a reference group that scored at or below that particular score. For current AFQT scores, the reference group is a sample of 18 to 23 year old youth who took the ASVAB as part of a national norming study conducted in 1997. Thus, an AFQT score of 90 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 90% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth. An AFQT score of 50 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 50% of the nationally-representative sample.