Armed Forces

John F KennedyJohn F Kennedy once said “A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today’s military rejects include tomorrow’s hard-core unemployed.”  While times have changed and President Kennedy’s ideals about non-military members may no longer hold the same literal truth, what is undeniable is that as the country has gotten less physically healthy, more and more Americans have fallen into the category of unfit for military service. In 2009, the Pentagon using information gathered from the CDC concluded that over one third of our nation’s youth is physically ineligible to serve in the military. With the report further stating that 35 million Americans aged 17-24 (the sweet spot for military recruiting) on the basis of physical and medical issues fail to qualify for service.

Obesity seems to be the common denominator. The Center for Disease Control reported in 2009, that a quarter of 18-34 year old Americans are obese. That represents a nineteen percent increase since 1987. Curt Gilroy the director of accessions for the Pentagon has voiced his concern with this issue stating “we have an obesity crisis in the country.” Gilroy further went on to lament this by calling into question the physical capabilities of our youth, claiming “young people, by and large can’t do pushups and they can’t run.” If the trend continues we may someday have a severe shortage of military personnel. As it is, the ability to run and do pushups is tested by the armed forces in a physical fitness test, prior to the completion of enlistment.

To join the military, certain minimum enlistment requirements must be met, these differ slightly by branch:

Branch Requirements:
Air Force
  • Age range of 17-27.
  • Have fewer than three dependents.
  • Successfully complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude test.
Army
  • Age range of 17-34.
  • Have fewer than three dependents.
  • Successfully complete Armed Services Vocational Aptitude test.
Coast Guard
  • Age range of 17- 39
  • Have fewer than three dependents.
  • Successfully complete Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.
  • Have the ability to serve on or around the water.
Marines
  • Capable of meeting the physical, mental, and moral standards.
  • Age range of 17-29.
  • Successfully complete ASVAB test.
Navy
  • Age range of 17-34.
  • Successfully complete Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

 

*Applicants aged 17 must receive parental consent prior to enlisting.

Beyond the base requirements of enlistment, specific medical conditions prevent service. An applicant must not have any contagious disease which could endanger others; physical defects that hamper ability also preclude service. Military members must be physically and medically capable of performing their duties in an exemplary fashion. In order to determine the capabilities of every service member and allowing for the graduation from boot camp, each branch of the military conducts their own physical fitness test (PFT).

Air force:

                         Males Run (2 miles) Run (1.5 mile) Push-ups Sit-ups Pull-ups
Liberator (minimum graduation standard) 16:45 min. 11:57 min. 45 50 0
Thunderbolt (honor graduate standard) 14:15 min. 8:55 min. 62 70 4
Warhawk (extraordinary – highest standard) 13:30 min. 8:08 min. 75 80 10
Females
Liberator (minimum graduation standard) 19:45 min. 13:56 min. 27 50 0
Thunderbolt (honor graduate standard) 16:00 min. 11:33 min. 37 60 2
Warhawk (extraordinary –highest standard) 15:00 min. 10:55 min. 40 75 5

Army Basic Training:

Age Group Gender Push-Ups Sit-Ups 2-Mile Run
17 – 21 Male 35 47 16:36
Female 13 47 19:42
22 – 26 Male 31 43 17:30
Female 11 43 20:36 

Army Advanced Infantry Training:

Age Group Gender Push-Ups Sit-Ups 2-Mile Run
17 – 21 Male 42 53 15:54
Female 19 53 18:54
22 – 26 Male 40 50 16:36
Female 17 50 19:36

Navy:

Performance Push-Ups 1.5 Mile Run
Category Level
Outstanding High 92 8:15
Outstanding Medium 91 8:45
Outstanding Low 86 9:00
Excellent High 82 9:15
Excellent Medium 79 9:30
Excellent Low 76 9:45
Good High 68 10:00
Good Medium 60 10:30
Good Low 51 11:00
Satisfactory High 49 12:00
Satisfactory Medium 46 12:15
Probationary 42 12:30

Marines:

Fitness Requirements for Each PFT Event (Males)
Age Pull-Ups Crunches 3-Mile Run
17-26 3 50 28:00
27-39 3 45 29:00
40-45 3 45 30:00
46 3 40 33:00

 

Fitness Requirements for Each PFT Event  (Females)
Age Flexed-Arm Hang Crunches 3-Mile Run
17-26 15 Seconds 50 31:00
27-39 15 Seconds 45 32:00
40-45 15 Seconds 45 33:00
46 15 Seconds 40 36:00

 

Marine Corps PFT Classification Scores  (Both Male and Female)
Class Age 17-26 Age 27-39 Age 40-45 Age 46
1st 225 200 175 150
2nd 175 150 125 100
3rd 135 110 88 65

*Physical Fitness Requirements sourced from:  http://www.military.com/

Every year, an estimated 180,000 Americans enlist in the military. The good news is that a healthy desire to serve still exists among our nation’s youth. The bad news is that every year, more and more young people become too physically unhealthy to pass the basic requirements necessary to serve. As it stands, this issue represents a pressing national security threat. We depend on our troops to maintain the quality of life and safety we enjoy in this country. It is of paramount importance to this nation (for reasons extending far beyond service) that we reverse the obesity endemic and raise future generations of healthy, fit children, who will go on to become healthy, fit adults.

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