Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s new proposal to relax the military’s recruiting standards for fitness and body composition is fraught with potential problems both politically and practically, observers say.
Carter floated the idea during a speech in New York on Tuesday, suggesting current recruiting standards may be “overly restrictive” and result in the military rejecting people who have vital skills in foreign languages or in fields such as cyber security and intelligence analysis.
Pentagon officials said the current accessions standards will be reviewed. No changes are imminent, and it’s likely that any final decisions will be made next year after the Obama administration’s top appointees have left the Defense Department.
In the case of fitness and body composition standards, defense officials emphasized that the standards for the active-duty force will not change but some prospective recruits, once considered unfit, might be shipped to boot camp in the hope that initial military training will help them get into shape.