The armed services administers a test to all potential enlistees called the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This exam consists of nine subtests in different subjects. As Steve Sailer has explained on numerous occasions, four of these subtests are combined to constitute the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), a highly g-loaded (i.e., roughly correlated with IQ) exam that determines enlistment eligibility. Additionally, the subtests are combined in different ways to determine eligibility for specific career fields.
For instance, the Air Force has an enlisted career field (AFSC) designated "3E032: Electrical Power Production". Admission to this career field requires meeting thresholds along two different aptitude dimensions: mechanical (M) and electrical (E). These dimensions are calculated from ASVAB subtests using the following formulas:
M = MC + GS + 2 x AS
E = AR + MK + EI + GS
The indicated subtests are:
MC: Mechanical Comprehension
GS: General Science
AS: Auto & Shop Information
AR: Arithmetic Reasoning
MK: Math Knowledge
EI: Electrical Information
The thresholds for these tests are:
M: 56th %-ile of U.S. population
E: 40th %-ile of U.S. population
These percentiles aren't especially high. We aren’t talking about an engineering degree here, merely the aptitude to work as a technician in a power plant. No doubt any reader of this blog would qualify for this AFSC. (Full disclosure: according to the ASVAB site, I know next to nothing about automobiles, although I made some shrewd guesses on the shop questions, which are broken out separately.) The electrical dimension is substantially g-loaded, two of its subtests being used to calculate the AFQT score. In theory, the other subjects should be teachable; significantly, however, the Air Force declines to teach these subjects as part of the technical training it provides to members of the AFSC. Rather it expects them to know the information before they enlist, or to learn it on their own.
Of the two dimensions, E is the more g-loaded, as two of its subtests are also used to calculate the AFQT score. Note that these percentiles are to some degree cumulative, depending on the degree of covariance between the dimensions. I tried in vain to find this covariance; the best I could do was this 2006 paper that identified correlations between several of the subtests. The relevant correlation is between AR and AS: .35, not especially high. On the other hand, the GS subtest is a factor in both dimensions, and its correlation with itself is obviously 1. As a back-of-the-envelope calculation, we will take the midpoint between these two numbers as representing the correlation between the two dimensions: .672.
A quick Monte Carlo simulation in Matlab tells us that with two dimensions this highly correlated, the overall qualifying percentile is only slightly above that for M: 58th. I shall refer to this value as ME58.
Armed with this overall percentile, I can now use the inverse Gaussian cumulative density function to calculate that this is about .2 SDs above the population mean, equivalent to an IQ of 103.
Question: What would this look like in Afghanistan?
Lynn and Vanhanen measured the Afghan IQ as a full SD below the American mean. If we assume: first, that the IQ variance among Afghans is the same as among Americans; and second, that the distribution of ME aptitude mirrors the distribution of IQ, then we can see that the aptitude cutoff for Electrical Power Production is 1.2 SDs above the Afghan mean, which corresponds to the 88th percentile.
Now, on the one hand, in a nation of 21 million, the 88th percentile still holds plenty of people capable of running the country’s power plants. But on the other, this requirement must compete with all the other demands of the kind of technical society that USAID and USACE are determined to foist upon the Afghans. When you add to the consideration the superior opportunities open to the 88th percentile (e.g., looting USAID contracts), you begin to wonder if there is really enough aptitude in Afghanistan to run the society we want them to have.