U.S. Army’s New Path to Enter Basic Training for Applicants Not Meeting Fitness, Academic Criteria

The new course lasts 90 days.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The United States Army is creating a program with a lower threshold for recruits that don’t meet the military’s physical and educational standards.
  • Before starting boot camp, Army recruits who don’t meet the service’s intellectual or physical fitness requirements will be placed in a training program for up to 90 days.
  • One of the five Army basic combat training locations, Fort Jackson in South Carolina, will host the Future Soldier Preparatory Course pilot program beginning in early August which is split into two groups.
  • One program will be for recruits who are slightly overweight and don’t meet the qualifications to serve due to up to 6% too much body fat.
  • The second program will be for those who scored between 21 and 30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which has a normal admission standard of 31.
DETAILS ON THE TWO PROGRAMS:
  • New recruits that don’t meet the fitness standards will be put into a 90-day training program that includes exercise and dietary instruction if their body fat levels are no more than 6% above the standard.
  • The recruit’s body fat can be measured every three weeks, and if they drop to within 2% of the Army’s standard, they can go to basic training.
  • The recruits that don’t quite meet academic standards will be in their own program and have the opportunity to retake their ASVAB every three weeks.
  • During that time the potential soldiers will receive extra education on topics covered in the ASVAB, including literacy, high school-level math, and logic puzzles.
  • “The young men and women who will participate in this pilot have the desire to improve themselves and want to honorably serve their country,” Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, said in a statement. “[It’s] a great way to increase opportunities for them to serve without sacrificing the quality needed across our force.”
BACKGROUND:
  • There are currently roughly 2,000 applicants who may be qualified to take the course, according to Army authorities.
  • The course was created in response to what the Pentagon has reported is the most difficult recruiting environment since the start of the all-volunteer military enlistment in 1973.
  • “The effects of the COVID pandemic over the past two years have exacerbated barriers to enlistment for many young Americans,” Army officials said.
  • “We have to acknowledge that society has changed and help our youth improve so they can benefit from the training and opportunities that Army service provides,” Gen. Funk said.
  • It’s estimated that only about 23% of young Americans fully meet the Army’s eligibility requirements, disallowing more than three-quarters from potential ability to serve.