The overwhelming majority of young Americans are unfit to serve in the military, the Department of Defense said.
A DoD report, citing a February 16 congressional hearing, reveals that 77 percent of Americans age 17 to 24 could not physically qualify to enter the armed forces. That represents a 6 percent increase from 2017.
The DoD’s report comes as the US military struggles to fill the ranks with new recruits while having to discharge overweight enlistees.
According to Military.com, the US Army came up well short of its recruiting goal of 60,000 last year, bringing in 45,000 new active-duty troops. This year, the Army is seeking 65,000 new recruits.
In September 2022, a US Army Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson said that young Americans are either too obese, too sick, or too criminal to serve in the military.
“Some of the challenges we have are obesity, we have pre-existing medical conditions, we have behavioral health problems, we have criminality, people with felonies, and we have drug use”, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson told The Spokesman-Review.
Brunson called it a “condition”, saying that “this is not an Army problem, so nationally what we have to look at is what’s going on with our youth”.
Irina Tsukerman, a security analyst and the owner of Scarab Rising, told The Epoch Times: “Each year, more than US$60 million goes toward replacing the 1,200-plus first-term enlistees discharged for excess weight”.
Tzukerman said high obesity rates have narrowed the recruiting pool considerably, coupled with “falling intelligence and education standards”.
The US military is reportedly adjusting its fitness requirements for some jobs, especially those that aren’t physically demanding, such as technology-based positions.
Tsukerman cautioned that lowering the bar within the U.S. military could set a dangerous precedent: “While it is true that technical developments such as the use of UAV [unmanned aerial vehicles] and AI [artificial intelligence] have displaced some human participation in the field, much of the combat still relies on conventional human performance. Therefore, national security directly depends on human forces being astute, situationally aware, and agile”.
Last month, Military.com reported on an Army initiative to whip recruits into shape. The program, known as the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, is designed to expand the pool of eligible Americans who can join the service by creating short camps that help applicants reach Army standards.
“The Future Soldier Prep Course is giving young Americans who want to serve the chance to do so, by helping them not only meet our standards, but in many cases rise above them”, said Gen. James McConville, the Army’s top officer. “We started seeing positive results early on in the program, and I am happy to see it expand to additional installations so we can continue to attract and invest in our nation’s best talent”.
Applicants in the programs have 90 days to boost their scores or lose enough body fat to come into compliance with Army standards. So far, just 3,206 students have attended one of the courses, of which 2,965 have graduated and moved on to basic training.
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