Sunday, July 30, 2017

When a Problem is Too Big, Reduce It

It would be good if more young Americans could physically qualify for military service:

In 1991, when I retired from active duty, only 50 percent of our nation’s young people—ages 17 to 24—were considered eligible for military service as officers or enlisted.

This was based on enlistment standards set by the military to ensure recruits would be competent to serve in our increasingly sophisticated military environment. Reasons for this lack of eligibility ranged from academic achievement to physical ability, to medical problems, drug use, and criminal records.

Today, eligibility to enlist has dropped to 25 percent, mostly because of an emergent condition among young people called obesity!

While a national effort to encourage better lifestyles would be good, even if it works it will be a long time to get results. You don't turn that ship on a dime.

And honestly I have my doubts that such a broad societal effort will have much of an effect. It's not like the government doesn't encourage better eating and more exercise.

I think a better approach would be to establish pre-basic training lifestyle camps for new recruits designed to get recruits otherwise qualified into shape with lower weight, more strength, and better eating habits.

When I was in basic training (in 1988) I know the Army had pre-basic strengthening camps that lasted 3 (if memory serves me) weeks.

The Army already has a plan to deal with overweight active duty troops. How much more effective would it be with the "total control" that trainees are under?

Like the Army was able to do with lower standards at the height of the Iraq War, perhaps the Army (and the rest of the military) should study different types and scales of obesity and figure out which potential recruits in those categories could benefit from such pre-basic camps. I don't know how long they should last, but I assume months rather than weeks.

This could be contracted out to civilian companies with Army Reserve drill sergeants rotated in for oversight to remind the new recruits they are in the Army.

Of course, if only 25% of X number of potential recruits are eligible, increasing the eligibility rate is only part of the equation. Increasing X also increases the number of recruits.

Another problem is that the military doesn't recruit well in all parts of the country. If 75% of potential recruits aren't eligible, the military can't afford to fail in effectively recruiting in large parts of the country where a lot of the 25% eligible live.

I had a suggestion on that front, recently, with "Course Could Be a Lifesaver for Recruiting." (And just discovered it is online. See pages 14-15.)

We need quality people as the foundation of the military.