American youth are either too fat or underqualified to serve in defense forces, military leaders express worry

Mission: Readiness, which comprises former admirals and generals, has written to acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller to address the growing recruitment crisis


                            American youth are either too fat or underqualified to serve in defense forces, military leaders express worry
(Getty Images)

The Army of the United States of America is known to be the most powerful in the world but if the words of some military leaders are to be believed, the country’s youth is not in the perfect physical shape to take care of the national defense. The former generals have also cautioned the Pentagon about it. 

A nonpartisan national security organization named Mission: Readiness is worried over the state of affairs and has asked the Pentagon to set up an interagency committee to address the military recruiting crisis in the making, according to a Washington Times report on Monday, December 28. Mission: Readiness comprises over 750 retired admirals and generals who eye smart investments in the country’s children for the future and work under the nonprofit Council for a Strong America. 

The body wrote to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on December 17 requesting him to work with the chiefs of other relevant federal departments and agencies to come up with a “holistic approach” to address issues that ultimately affect the military’s recruitment ability. 

Obesity is a major health threat for America's youth (Getty Images)

The defense department has said that 71 percent of young Americans (aged between 17 and 24) are not able to serve in uniform because of reasons like drug abuse, obesity, poor education and criminal background. Those factors “largely fall outside of the Department of Defense’s purview, but have an immense impact on the ability of the military to recruit new service members, as well as a significant monetary impact on the Department,” former Air Force Gen William M Fraser and former Coast Guard Adm James M Loy, wrote in the letter to Miller.

“Without coordinated action, these trends pose a significant threat to the future of the all-volunteer force,” they added. Mission: Readiness also said that an interagency advisory committee, featuring executive branch departments like justice, education and agriculture, could come up with a long-term strategy to address the issue and ensure that more American youth are able to join the armed forces. 

“We believe this is a critical step to the sustainability of the all-volunteer force and critical for our future strength and national security,” Gen Fraser and Adm Loy wrote.

Warning has come before as well

Mission: Readiness, however, is not the only group of military leaders that has expressed concern over the state of America’s military recruitment. Maj Gen Frank Muth, who leads the Army Recruitment Command, had warned in 2018 that obesity was the biggest reason why the service had to disqualify future soldiers. 

Recently, Military reported that both Navy and Marine Corps officials, who have the responsibility of recruiting, are worried over the Mission: Readiness letter written to Miller.  “It is something that, as a nation, we should continue to work through… to make sure our children are healthier,” Navy Recruiting Command chief Rear Adm Dennis Velez was quoted as saying by Military.com. 

Marine Corps Recruiting Service chief Maj Gen Jason Bohm even went to the extent of warning that much less than 30 percent of eligible young Americans are suitable for the service. “If you break it down further into those skill sets, intelligence level, and the physical ability level, those that we’re looking toward bringing into the Marine Corps… quickly decreases to about 7 percent,” Bohm told Military, adding: “That’s enormously challenging.”