An organization comprised of hundreds of retired general officers is once again sounding the alarm on the state of America’s youth.
Retired generals and admirals want to ban sugary sodas and snacks from public schools. The kids today, say the former brass, are too fat to fight for their country.
Mission: Readiness, a bipartisan organization of 750 retired generals and admirals, released its latest report detailing the dire straits facing military recruiters.
According to the report, titled “Unhealthy and Unprepared,” an estimated 71% of all young people in the U.S. between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service.
Obesity disqualifies about 31% of youth, the report specified.
In North Carolina, an estimated 72% of the population is ineligible to join the military, due to being overweight, lacking adequate education or having a history of crime or drug use.
The new report was unveiled by a group of retired officers and Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
Retired Lt. Gen. Samuel Ebbesen said Mission: Readiness has been warning the country about the impact of obesity on national security for nearly a decade. He said acting now to address the issue was critical to the nation’s future defence.
“We know that the military cannot solve this problem on its own,” added retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr. “Children as young as 2 are experiencing rising obesity rates, and these rates increase with age. This demonstrates the need for obesity prevention beginning very early in life and continuing through high school and beyond.”
“Unhealthy and Unprepared” advocates for programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity, both at school and at home. Officials said healthy lifestyles must be encouraged early in life.
The report paints a bleak picture of the state of the nation’s youth and said the ineligibility of potential recruits was a large reason the Army failed to meet its recruitment goal last year.
The report notes that of the remaining 29% of eligible youth, only 17% would qualify for active duty. And only 13% would achieve a satisfactory score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
And while the recruitable population declines, so too is interested in military service.
Last year, just 11% of 16- to 24-year-olds said they would definitely or probably serve in the military in the coming years. That is down from 13% in 2016.
There’s a legitimate readiness issue here. In 2009, the military found that 75 per cent of American 17- to 24-year-olds would be declared unfit to serve, for reasons involving obesity.
Mission: Readiness estimates that something like 7 million military-aged youth is too fat for the military. Beyond that, Americans have an obesity problem in general, no matter how people act offended when Michelle Obama encourages kids to eat healthily.
But it’s less of a readiness issue than it was in the past. In 2009, there were over 100,000 troops in Iraq and would soon be that many more in Afghanistan.