Want to improve national security without spending billions on a new weapons system? Slim down America’s kids and teach them to read, some retired generals say.
The Army says more than three-fourths of 17- to 24-year-olds today are not eligible to join the military because they aren’t fit enough or don’t meet other basic requirements, such as having a high school diploma or being able to read or write properly.
That’s got some of the nation’s highest-ranking retired military officials advocating a radical way to improve national security—improve the lives of children.
“It’s not just a school problem. It’s not just a Department (of Education) problem. It’s a national security issue and it needs to be prioritized that way,” said retired Maj. Gen. D. Allen Youngman.
Young people are too fat to fight, even “as military operations become ever-more technologically advanced”.
… Despite those trends, experts say it’s still going to be just as important to have fit, able soldiers in a generation to come.
“There’s nothing about war that is becoming fundamentally less physically demanding, for at least half the people on the battlefield,” said Michael O’Hanlon, director of research for the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.
O’Hanlon said that’s because the military may not be able to avoid messy, on-the-ground conflicts in countries where there are massive humanitarian violations or other lawlessness.
Even if their military duties don’t require on-the-ground combat, Elenberg said, troops need to be in good shape. Nurses must be able to carry a large load of equipment to help the wounded. Service members on ships need to be able to nimbly climb vertical ladders from deck to deck. And personnel on submarines need to be fit enough to stay alert for hours on end.