(NewsNation) — A pilot program to get army recruits into better physical and academic shape has been successful, with nearly 10,000 recruits graduating from it about a year after its debut.
The program preparing recruits for boot camp came in response to the military’s low enlistment numbers.
One of the biggest problems in recruiting is the growing number of young people who aren’t in the physical or academic shape to meet the military’s requirements.
“The results from the Future Soldier Preparatory Course have been very encouraging, providing more than 8,800 young men and women a path to serve in our all-volunteer force,” said Gen. Gary M. Brito, the commanding general for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Along with the additional training, the Army has simplified the often dreaded tape test, which is used to gauge soldiers’ body fat.
More soldiers are expected to fail the more accurate tape test but can appeal their results with newer technology if available.
Top military officials estimate by the end of the fiscal year, the Army will fall short of its enlistment goal by 10,000, the Navy by 6,000 and the Air Force by 10,000.
“Challenged by the fact that a small number of young Americans — 23% — are qualified to serve,” the Army’s vice chief of staff, Gen. Randy A. George, said. “Fewer still, we’re finding, are interested in serving. And that’s something that we are working very hard to change.”
Pentagon leaders blame the pandemic for severely restricting in-person recruiting efforts in high schools, a lack of connection with military service and a competitive private job market as reasons potential enlistees are not signing up.
Meanwhile, the services meeting their enlistment goals are the Marines and Space Force, which don’t seem to have the same recruitment problems as their counterparts.