Well, the actual figure is 27 percent of Americans are too overweight to join the military, but that’s just a detail. Whether the reason is too much fat, too little education, or a criminal record, 75 percent of American kids can not meet the minimum standards to join the military.
That should be cause for rejoicing among the anti-war crowd. But, really, do we want to stop our kids from putting on a uniform by turning them into couch potatoes?
Even among those kids who aren’t overweight, another 32 percent can’t enlist because of other health problems. Criminal records disbar another 10 percent. One-quarter of the draft-age population lacks a high-school diploma, and many of those who do can’t pass Army entrance exams. That only leaves about 20 percent of young people who can enlist without waivers or tutoring by recruiters.
The Pentagon is worried that there won’t be sufficient manpower for a military that is already overstretched. But the 2000 census recorded some 39 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 24, so even if only 20 percent were eligible to enlist, that still leaves plenty of cannon fodder manpower.
No, we should be worried more about national self-respect than national security. The military has tightened its standards since I graduated high school in 1981, when most of my classmates going into the service were in the remedial math class. But today’s standards aren’t THAT hard. To pass an Army physical fitness test, an 18-year-old male must perform 42 push-ups in two minutes, 53 sit-ups in two minutes and run two miles in 15 minutes and 54 seconds. Now I was hardly a jock back then, and I would have had to work a bit on the push-ups, but the rest of it doesn’t seem too hard for a teenager.