An increasing number of soldiers are being dismissed from, or not accepted into the Army because they don't meet certain fitness requirements.
In an effort to trim budgets and decrease troops, the military branch is looking toward obese soldiers as the first to be removed from active duty.
Now the leading cause of ineligibility into the Army, seventy-five percent of civilians attempting to join are not able; the primary reason being obesity, Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling stated in a recent speech, according to the Washington Post.
“Of the 25 percent that could join, what we found was 65 percent could not pass the [physical training] test on the first day,” he said.
“Young people joining our service could not run, jump, tumble or roll — the kind of things you would expect soldiers to do if you’re in combat.”
In the first ten months of 2012 alone, 1,625 soldiers were relieved of duty due to weight problems, 15 times more than were discharged in 2007 when the country was still in the midst of war.
Wartime supposedly forced an influx of exceptions for recruiting soldiers, for not only those were were not physically fit, but also those those with criminal records. These soldiers that were technically never eligible for the service are subsequently among the first being removed now that Army plans to decrease its number of active troops from 570,000 to 490,000 by 2017.
According to the Post, previous wars saw similar patterns. Over 3,000 soldiers were released from duty in the year following Desert Storm, more than had ever been since 1984.
In 2007; however, considered the most violent year of the Iraq war, a mere 112 soldiers were dismissed due to obesity.
Stew Smith former Navy SEAL and fitness expert who works with service members and law enforcement personnel that struggle to meet fitness requirements told the Post that such waxing and waining in requirements is a regular pattern within the Army.
“During a war period, when we were ramping up, the physical standards didn’t have a lot of teeth because we needed bodies to go overseas, to fill platoons and brigades,” he said.
“During a period of drawdown, everything starts getting teeth, and that’s kind of where we are again.”