The military is faced with a fitness dilemma.
The societal increase in obesity and decrease in activity has contributed to an environment where about seven in 10 military-age young adults aren’t eligible to serve
, mostly because of weight or other health problems. Physical standards have been kept low so as not to limit the already small candidate pool.
And even within the military community itself, obesity-associated morbidities costs the military health system more than $1 billion annually
, according to a 2013 study.
Though technology continues to improve, the myth of drones fighting our wars is being debunked as senior leaders predict a much more austere, challenging battlefield
in the future.
Rather than another article warning of impending doom, I wanted to offer a relatively simple solution, or at least the start of one. The root of the fitness problem might not be physical, but rather psychological. And change starts with a four-letter word.
DON’T SUGARCOAT IT
For years, the military has looked to improve performance processes based on the corporate world, which is not inherently a bad thing. But along with these processes has come the business vernacular, which I believe is not such a good thing.
This terminology and way of thinking overly sanitizes the purpose of the military — namely, to kill the enemy.
Some readers will digest the word “kill” without flinching, but it likely will make the majority uncomfortable, and understandably so. Most would agree that the words “neutralize” or “destroy” sound much more palatable than “kill”. But if the mission of the armed services is “to fight and win our nation’s wars,” killing the enemy is definitely the implied task.
Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver/Army