Army program aims to help recruits meet entry standards

(NewsNation) – Facing a major recruiting shortage, the Army is set to launch a new program to help recruits who don’t meet its physical or academic standards in hopes of getting them back in shape for the basic training.

The first batch of recruits will arrive in Fort Jackson on Monday for the Preparatory course for the future soldiera three-week program that teaches prospective soldiers how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve their academic skills.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis joined “NewsNation Prime” on Sunday to talk about the program, which he says will unlock the potential of young people nationwide who aspire to join the military but don’t meet its requirements.

“We have to invest in society if we want to build the military we want,” Michaelis said. “We need to meet society where they are and move them forward on their journey to be the best version of themselves as a soldier.”

The U.S. military projects it won’t meet its recruiting goals of 30,000 troops, and officials have cited societal challenges as a factor. The military says 71% of young people are ineligible for military service, in part due to rising obesity rates.

The preparatory course will accept recruits who have a body fat composition between 2% and 6% above the Army standard and educate them on how to safely lose 1% to 2% body fat per month. Interns will meet with dietitians and fitness experts to learn healthy habits.

“We believe we can get them to a point where they can go through basic combat training in a healthy, realistic and resilient way to enable them to serve,” Michaelis said.

The program also contains an academic track, which gives trainees the tools to pass the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery Test. The Army says ASVAB scores have dropped 9% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many schools and universities began remote learning.

Classes will focus on word knowledge, reading comprehension, math and test-taking skills.

“We are going to unleash the aptitude of young people who may not have the basic skills to take tests,” Michaelis said.

The program’s creation raised concerns about lowering Army standards, but Michaelis said that was not the case at all. Preparatory course participants who do not meet Army standards within 90 days are not guaranteed to continue their basic training.

“We’re not going to lower the standard in any way,” Michaelis said.

Comments are closed.