U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has proposed relaxing military recruiting standards in a move that has garnered significant pushback.
Carter reportedly wants to impose new scrutiny on recruiting criteria like physical fitness, marijuana use, tattoo regulations, and single parents. “That is a big can of worms and it’s politically dangerous,” a senior U.S. military official told Military Times following the announcement.
The U.S. military has significantly changed personnel policies in recent days, including opening combat jobs to women, and allowing transgendered troops to openly serve.
“The one thing that’s made all those efforts palatable is that we weren’t changing the standards. This has been people’s fear all along,” the official lamented. “They said ‘Yeah, they say they’re not going to lower the standards, but they’re going to do it — just watch ’em.”
“These benchmarks must be kept relevant for both today’s force and tomorrow’s, meaning we have to ensure they’re not unnecessarily restrictive,” Carter said Monday.
Service branches have their own fitness requirements that adhere to guidelines set by the Department of Defense. The current department guidelines only mandate a recruit have under a BMI of 27.5, and only say recruits must not be using illegal drugs when they arrive for training. Most services, however, don’t recruit people with a history of moderate illegal drug use.
A September study of the U.S. military found service members are more overweight than ever before and the trend is likely to continue — 7.8 percent of the military is overweight, which represents a staggering rise from 1.6 percent in 2001.
“If I have to climb up to the top of a mountain in Nuristan, in Afghanistan, and if I have someone who is classified as clinically obese, they are potentially going to be a liability for me on that patrol,” the U.S. Army’s top Non-Commissioned Officer cautioned in a statement to Military Times.
Send tips to saagar@
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.