With the number of eligible military recruits in decline, congress has opened itself to the possibility of increasing the available number of fitness waivers for new enlisters, particularly for candidates with proven skills in other high-demand areas.
At a press event Wednesday, House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry asked, “Should we make it easier for someone who has, for example, expertise in computers to serve in the military even though they can’t meet all the physical requirements?”
According to the MilitaryTimes, more than 70 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 are ineligible for service under the current military requirements, with roughly half of that number falling short due to health and physical fitness requirements.
As the House Armed Services Committee begins work on the annual defense authorization bill, policies could be affected by these statistics as lawmakers consider how best to keep critical rolls — such as pilots and cybersecurity specialists — fully staffed.
Said Thornberry, “If there is some sort of requirement that has been there since the 1950s simply because it has been there since the 1950s, should we look and see if that continues to be applicable today? Of course.”
At the same time, Thornberry acknowledged that it would be a mistake to rewrite policy just to fill spots to the potential detriment of force readiness. “I’m for experimentation,” he said. “We need to try some things, because doing what we have always done because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t work.”