Young Americans are increasingly unfit for Army service due to obesity, academic failings, and various other shortcomings.
Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, the US Army Recruiting Command commanding general, told a US Army Bloggers roundtable Thursday that the Army is facing significant challenges in recruiting. Part of this is due to an improving economy offering more young people career options outside of the military.
More significantly, an increasing number of Americans are simply ineligible for Army service. As of now, Batschelet said, only three in ten Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 meet the Army’s standards for service. By 2020, according to the general, “that eligibility number could be down to two in ten.”
“Obesity forms a big part of it, the disqualification. That’s the growing trend,” Batschelet said. However, moral disqualifications over an increasing range of criminalized behaviours have barred many young men and women from enlisting.
Similarly, an “erosion in academic qualification of the young people we are engaging with” has left the Army grasping for eligible recruits. The problem is “reflected in declining high school graduation rates,” Batschelet, alongside the failure of an increasing number of Americans to achieve high school equivalency certificates.
For Batschelet, the slipping educational standards of Americans is the most worrying trend for the future of the US Army. Although obesity is the leading disqualifier for people looking to enlist, tht challenge is one that “we as a society, and even as the Army, can deal with.”
In contrast, deficiencies in education will take “significantly more time to address … that’s the more worrisome one for me,” Batschelet said.
Reflected in the problem of education, recruits have routinely scored worse on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, Batschelet said.
According to the Military Times, the Department of Defence has strict quotas on what percentage of enlisted can score on the ASVAB. At most only 4% of enlistees can score in the 10th to 30th percentile of the test, and no more than 40% 0f enlistees can score lower than the 50th percentile.
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