More Than 75% Of Americans Aged 17-24 Aren't Fit For Military Service: DOD

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Mar 04, 2023 - 06:00 PM

As the US military struggles to fill the ranks with new recruits, a new report from the Department of Defense reveals that the vast majority of Americans aged 17-24 are unfit for military service.

Citing a Feb. 16 congressional hearing, a DoD report reveals that 77% of Americans in the above age group could not physically qualify to enter the armed forces - a 6% increase from 2017.

A key factor is obesity - which hit nearly 42% in 2020. Meanwhile, a 2022 study cited by the Epoch Times found a link between receiving government food assistance and a greater chance of becoming obese through the consumption of unhealthy foods. A 2015 USDA analysis found that 40% of total SNAP participants were obese.

Last month, reported on an Army initiative to whip fat, low-scoring recruits into shape in 'pre-basic training courses.'

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 service came up short of its recruiting goal last year, bringing in 45,000 new active-duty troops -- well below its goal of 60,000. This year, the service is even more ambitious, seeking 65,000 new recruits.

"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."

U.S. Army trainees exercise as part of a course aimed at preparing potential enlistees who don’t meet fitness or test standards at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., on Sept. 28, 2022. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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.

More via the Epoch Times,

A Dangerous Dilemma

In September 2022, a U.S. Army general bluntly 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 of Spokane, Washington.

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.

The general’s statement came as a response to difficulties the U.S. military had reaching their target goals for recruits in 2022. This struggle, prevalent in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, has prompted security analysts and some U.S. institutions to declare obesity a threat to national security.

Obesity a Security Threat

“Each year, more than $60 million goes toward replacing the 1,200-plus first-term enlistees discharged for excess weight,” Irina Tsukerman, a security analyst and the owner of Scarab Rising, told The Epoch Times.

She said high obesity rates have narrowed the recruiting pool considerably, coupled with “falling intelligence and education standards.” She also noted that, along with reduced resiliency and flexibility, the military is less prepared to meet “asymmetrical or conventional challenges.”

Police departments struggle with similar challenges, according to Tsukerman.

“We have also seen the impact of poor fitness and obesity among police forces in urban areas,” she said. “Unfit officers facing high-risk scenarios are less likely to perform well at their jobs … the same can become a dangerous trend on the battlefield.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also classifies America’s obesity challenge as a security threat. The organization estimates that 1 in 5 children and 2 in 5 U.S. adults are now obese.

CDC statistics also show that 19 percent of active-duty service members suffered from obesity in 2020, which is up from 16 percent in 2015.

Active-duty soldiers struggling with obesity are also 33 percent more likely to suffer musculoskeletal injuries.

Lowering the Bar?

In response to this challenge, the U.S. military is 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,” she said. “Therefore, national security directly depends on human forces being astute, situationally aware, and agile.”

Hunnes said it comes down to getting people on track with proper nutrition right out of the gate. She said healthy breakfast and lunch options for children and better nutrition for pregnant mothers is a good start to tackle obesity issues among today’s youth.

“We need communities, individuals, and governments to step up.”