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December 11, 2012

Depressing Thought of the Day

Three quarters of those who try to join the Army can't meet the physical standard:

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said he was floored by what he found in 2009 when he was assigned to overhaul the Army’s training system. Seventy-five percent of civilians who wanted to join the force were ineligible, he said. Obesity was the leading cause.

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 in a recent speech. “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.”

If you're not already contemplating self defenestration with extreme prejudice, there's more where this came from:

Between 1998 and 2010, the number of active-duty military personnel deemed overweight or obese more than tripled.

In 2010, the highest percentage of overweight troops were females, members of the Air Force, and those older than 40. Marines and troops under 20 were deemed the most fit.

Perhaps we should put Michelle in charge?

*running away*

Posted by Cassandra at December 11, 2012 06:49 AM

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Can't speak to civilian obesity trends, but a factor for Army and Reserve components is that once the shooting started enforcement of height/weight and PT standards went out the window. Around the beginning of 2011 they started worrying about it again what with garrison mentality staring to break out and there's been a spike of people being drop kicked for not meeting standards. I would be interested in seeing how obesity is being judged, particularly for female. By Army standards a woman can be a real butter ball and still make tape, which is how we determine body fat. We don't call anyone obese - they're either under weight, in range or over weight. The medical people can make an obesity call, but they don't have to be in the loop to discipline or discharge someone for failing PT or body fat.

Posted by: Pogue at December 11, 2012 08:46 AM

Yanno, according to the CDC, a man standing 6' 0" should weigh between 140 and 177 pounds. Hit 180 and he's officially "overweight." Of course, that wasn't always the case. In fact, it wasn't the case until one day in the summer of 1998 when the Nat. Institute of Health decided that about 25-30 million more Americans were overweight overnight. Granted, there are a lot of folks out there that could stand to skip the second helping (myself included), but by and large (pun!) those folks are civilians. This is just a handy tool for the services to rid their ranks of excess (pun?) personnel in preparation for "peacetime" strength. Because, as you know, Obama killed Osama, and there's nothing left to threaten us.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 11, 2012 10:08 AM

Hit 180 and he's officially "overweight."

Well, I agree that's just plain silly. The Unit is 6'0" and has always weighed between 180 and 190 (usually 185). He doesn't have much fat on him at all. He does carry a lot of muscle, which weighs more than fat.

The Army's standards for men are far more forgiving: min weight for someone 6 feet tall is 140 and max is (depending on age) 190-203.

I don't think the standard has changed recently, but I'll admit I don't know much about the Army.

Posted by: Cass at December 11, 2012 10:42 AM

The military's fatboy criteria can be flawed. An Army Reservist coworker of mine some years back told me of a grunt who was put on the Army's then fatboy program because he couldn't do a proper pushup. Not a one. At retest time, he brought a couple of cinder blocks to the test and did his pushups with his fists [sic] on the blocks, and he passed easily and rapidly. The soldier was a body-builder, and his chest size wouldn't let him do "proper" pushups without the cinder blocks.

This doesn't alter the fact, though, that too many--civilian or military--are woefully out of shape. It's just that in the military, the life and death aspects of being out of shape are more immediate.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at December 11, 2012 10:44 AM

The Army's standards for men...(depending on age)....

The USAF's standards when I was active were ridiculous--and the Army's, which I'll get to in a bit. When I was active, I was invited to prove my physical fitness once a year by "running" 1.5 miles within a standard time. My fitness program consisted of running 1.5 miles twice each year--the first time a week or so before the annual test (which was the second time). The sole purpose of that first run was to determine how much actual running I'd have to do this year in order to cover the distance in the required time (and the actual running was a small minority of the distance).

The USAF added an alternative: I could walk 3 miles in a required time. However, for that test, I had to walk the entire distance; if I ran any part of it, the test was converted to a 1.5 mile "run" with the "run" criterion applied.

On adjusting the standards for age, I've never understood this in a military environment. Incoming ordnance doesn't care a whit for my age; it's not going to adjust its approach rate to match my aged-slowed progress.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at December 11, 2012 10:56 AM

The standards haven't changed in ages, although they do allow initial entry soldiers to be 10 pounds heavier and score 10 points less on the PT test. Once they're out of basic the regular standards apply.. The height/weight numbers are screening - meet them and you're good. If you don't meet them you get taped for body fat. If you meet the body fat guidlines you're also good. There's a lot of soldiers that can't make weight because of muscle mass, but they're normally good for body fat. There are a couple of types of build that always have trouble. FWIW the body fat guidelines range from 20-26% for males and 30-36% for females based on age. Where the change has come is if you fail two record PT tests or don't make tape twice in a row you can be administratively discharged. They've actually stared doing that again now.

Posted by: Pogue at December 11, 2012 11:02 AM

Five years in the Army, and I made weight ONCE. And that was because my short squad leader measured my height and could not get the ruler flat against the top of my head. Every other month I was in the Army, I was 5'10". That month I was 6'2". But I only failed tape once. And within a month I lost 10 lbs and 1" off my waist. I never missed another tape. But I was always "overweight".

I read once that the Army's height/weight standards were drawn up in the early 1900's. Malnutrition wasn't all that uncommon back in those days. It may not be true, but I can believe it. 185 was the lightest I ever was in the Army. I was ripped with little body fat left after Basic. But I was "overweight". Yeah, ok.

Posted by: MikeD at December 11, 2012 03:37 PM

To add to what Pogue said above, just look at the graphs...the rise starts right about 2001/2002. I.E., when the shooting started. Keeping manpower levels up became more important that making sure everyone looked nice in their Class As.

I will say that I think the Army (and AF and Navy) could get rid of a lot of the out of shape soldiers by increasing the run distance on the PT test to the USMC standard 3-mile. This would especially apply to the, um, plumper types, mostly female, that you find in places like Finance and AG units. I've seen numerous barely fit females stagger across the finish line of the 2-mile with only a few seconds to spare who would have fallen out if they had to go 3 miles.

And I don't think I've ever seen a tubby Marine. Especially no tubby WMs (like the aforementioned Army plumpies from Finance and AG). I've seen some big male Marines - because they spend most of their time in the weight room so they can max pull-ups and sit-ups, and meet the minimum on the run.

Personally, I think if you can pass the PT test (which, as I said, could be a bit more strenuous), you can be heavy.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at December 12, 2012 03:50 PM

A bit - no a long way off topic, but military and Marine related. Please note it IS Duffelblog, but I can see this in the not too distant future.....


Posted by: kbob_in_Katy at December 13, 2012 08:55 AM

As a former/recovering Nasty Guard unit admin, I will say that we had great difficulty getting rid of people in a timely fashion who were failing on their PT and/or weight (separate but obviously related issues). Separation actions would get kicked back to the company: what if they have a medical problem? Have they been evaluated? Good luck getting medical evaluation in a timely fashion for a one-weekend-a-month soldier, particularly when the medical command might not be drilling the same weekend (or in the same location). Several people have been unable to extend or re-enlist because of it, but I don't think our battalion has actually kicked anyone out for it in some time.

The Army PT standards are stupid, but not that hard, and even making modest effort should be enough to pass them. They keep commissioning studies to revamp the test and then reject the results and start over.

Posted by: Sig at December 13, 2012 12:53 PM