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As Recruiting Numbers Shrink, U.S .Air Force Expands Body Fat Ranges in New Requirements

As Recruiting Numbers Shrink, U.S .Air Force Expands Body Fat Ranges in New Requirements

The Air Force also plans a new social media campaign, as the Space Force meets its targets and the Marines order 250 biometric machines.

We have been chronicling the woke policies permeating US defense organizations, making them so unappealing to potential service personnel that recruiting numbers have plummeted.

For example, my colleague James Nault described how the Pentagon burdened war-fighting commanders with transgender policies.

Now the US Air Force has expanded its body fat range limits as it struggles to find new members to join its ranks amid a surge of obesity among America’s young people.

Male recruits are now permitted to have up to 26% body fat, up from the previous requirement of 20%, while females can have 36%, up from the previous max of 28%, according to Air Force Recruiting Service spokeswoman Leslie Brown.

“The Air Force is looking to open the aperture on qualifying a broader pool of young Americans for service in the Air Force. These changes bring the Air Force in line with DOD policy,” Brown told Fox News Digital in a statement. “While recruits will be allowed to join with greater body fat percentages, they will still be expected to meet the same fitness standards as everyone else to stay in the service. That means meeting the waist-to-height ratio requirement the Air Force announced in January and implemented this month.”

The changes come as Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in March the military service branch is expected to miss its active-duty recruiting goal by 10% this year, after dipping into a pool of delayed-entry applicants to meet last year’s goal, reported.

The Air Force also plans to expand a social media campaign targeting women.

But while leaders see no “silver bullet” to solve those issues, the Air Force Recruiting Service is pressing ahead with a push to attract more women to serve. Acting Undersecretary of the Air Force Kristyn E. Jones described in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week the Women in Sports Campaign, which she said “aligns DAF recruitment with female athletes through direct marketing as well as enduring partnerships that encourage female participation in sports.”

The target of the campaign, she said: “Approximately 7.6 million 18- to 24-year-old women [who] watch women’s sports on YouTube.” Taken as a group, “these viewers constitute a key demographic for DAF recruitment efforts,” Jones added.

The Air Force Recruiting Service plans to expand outreach to young women via social media, officials told Air & Space Forces Magazine.

Interestingly, the US Space Force is currently not having any issues with recruiting.

Unlike other U.S. military branches, it is not struggling to hit its recruitment goals; in FY 2022, it hit its targets for both officers and enlisted personnel. (By contrast, the U.S. Army fell about 25% short of its goal for fiscal 2022, according to Army figures, a gap of roughly 15,000 enlistments.)

In a hearing in September before the Senate Armed Services Committee, ahead of his being confirmed as Chief of Space Operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman put forth the idea that, because Space Force is small, it can be both picky and flexible in choosing its personnel.

Picky in that it should seek enlistees with highly specialized technical skills. But flexible in that it can take a more holistic view of candidates who might not perfectly align with the requirements to enter other military branches.

Meanwhile, the US Marines are taking a more tech-based approach. It ordered 250 biometric machines to get better readings on body mass index.

Under the new policy, which went into effect Jan. 1, Marines who exceed weight standards and fail a body fat assessment taken with a measuring tape will be evaluated with a body scan before being sent to the body composition program or being discharged from the service, according to an August announcement about policy change.

The Marine Corps concluded after a yearlong study done in collaboration with the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine that the scan, which is conducted on a bioelectrical impedance analysis machine, can detect the percentage of body fat that a person has more accurately than the tape test.

While all the new limits, social media campaigns, and biometric equipment might lead to a few more recruits, I suspect that recruiting numbers will continue to decline under the current administration and its woke policy priorities.


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What is the practical effect of this change? The USAF will let in people who must lose that extra weight or be discharged?

    CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | April 6, 2023 at 8:27 am

    Probably. That’s how the article reads. The Army has adopted a program to accept otherwise ineligible recruits on a provisional basis. They get put into a 90 day pipeline to reduce weight, increase physical fitness and increase test scores in order to become eligible for enlistment and proceed to Basic. Maybe the AF is doing something similar.

      MarkS in reply to CommoChief. | April 6, 2023 at 8:42 am

      When I was in the Army, they took care of all that in eight weeks, it was called Basic Training
      the weight came off, physical fitness was at an all time high, and attitudes were adjusted

        Fat_Freddys_Cat in reply to MarkS. | April 6, 2023 at 8:55 am

        Navy boot camp, same/same. But I wonder if they’ll be allowed to do that now. Won’t that make them “fatphobic”? I’m given to understand that’s a crime too.

          8 weeks training brings a marginally fit man up to physical standards, but someone who is dropping out and puking halfway through the morning run is neither going to come up to snuff in just 8 weeks, nor keep up with everything else he’s supposed to be learning.

          In my Air Force basic training, there was one man in my flight who was seriously challenged by the physical requirements, although in some way he had been found to meet the standards for enlistment. He got through only because, in the spirit of teamwork that was the most important thing boot camp should inculcate, several guys who were getting through with less difficulty than most took it upon themselves to help him. They ran beside him giving verbal encouragement. If he had to puke, they got him running again afterwards, and didn’t stop until he’d finished the daily morning physical fitness exercises. If there was time, they’d take him on another run later in the day. They watched that he didn’t miss anything else, no matter how miserable he was. He graduated with the rest of us. A group of 50 can do that for one man, but we could not have done it for several. We’d have had to let them fail and be dropped back to repeat boot camp until they came up to standards or begged to be discharged.

          Letting in many guys who are below standards physically would be disruptive to the training of the rest, and most of them would fail. I think that if you have to recruit them, it’s much better to have a pre-boot camp diet and exercise program so when they enter boot camp, they are not too far below average.

        CommoChief in reply to MarkS. | April 6, 2023 at 9:36 am

        The program I mentioned is for those too fat, out of shape or with too low an ASVAB to qualify under normal enlistment standards. Less than 1/4 of normal recruiting age Americans can meet minimum eligibility standards. Only about 9% would even consider enlisting in several successive polls.

        That’s the reality of the situation and IMO, allowing some folks the opportunity to prove themselves willing and able to meet the minimum eligibility standards with a program like this is a good idea. I don’t see another solution that doesn’t involve a draft.

        Basic training has unfortunately been modified over the last 20ish years. During GWOT all sorts of waivers were granted for enlistment and the AD force ended up with some real problem children who were pushed through the pipe to meet the numbers demanded from on high. Lots of folks with no business being in the Army were accepted due to the lack of others who were better candidates being willing to enlist. Some we turned into good Soldiers, others not and they got booted as soon as they came back from a deployment. Sucks for everyone involved.

        Today there are no ‘shark attacks’ of the DI surrounding and screaming at recruits on day zero, instead they have a nice sit down presentation. Very touchy feely in order to avoid sending some kid with ADHD or anxiety into a fit by being overwhelmed. This is state of recruiting. IMO, a draft is almost inevitable at this point.

          henrybowman in reply to CommoChief. | April 6, 2023 at 11:45 pm

          “Very touchy feely in order to avoid sending some kid with ADHD or anxiety into a fit by being overwhelmed.”
          I do hope the enemy will be civilized enough to muffle his artillery.

    GWB in reply to Dathurtz. | April 6, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Yes, basically. They will kick them out of boot camp rather than graduate them, most likely. It perks their recruitment numbers but might negatively impact retention numbers.

As predicted. If what you can talk into signing up can’t reach the standards… lower them.

Give you a real National Defense warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?

Suburban Farm Guy | April 6, 2023 at 7:35 am

Everyone is clamoring to give their life for a country that had slavery, is systemically racist, transphobic, unfair to minorities, exists on land stolen from noble indigenous tribes, is solely responsible for climate change and the 6th Major Extinction, plus it has waaaay too many white people. Not worth defending. Mm hm. Join the Marxist revolution instead — see your local college recruiters about that one.

    Don’t forget clot shots… under reported is the number of recruits last year that experienced S.A.D.S (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome). Last I heard the Clot Shots are still mandated. I have kids of college age, and I’ve steered them away from the Academies, ROTC and OCS.

    You should be a recruiter. You convinced me. I am off this morning to join the local Antifa cell.

This is the way we address problems today. Instead of finding the root cause and fixing it, we instead dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator and hope no one notices the incompetence that follows.

Don’t worry — recruiting numbers will skyrocket because the DoD is featuring Dylan Mulvaney in its new ads.

When I got drafted, the Army wasn’t concerned with my body fat, it just got rid of it in about eight weeks

Fat_Freddys_Cat | April 6, 2023 at 8:40 am

This reminds me too strongly of my own time in the military. I joined the Navy in 1978; recruiting was in a bad way in the post Vietnam era and the service definitely lowered standards to get warm bodies. It was primarily standards as regard to education and criminal records (some of the guys I served with were criminals who had been given an ultimatum by the judge: join the service or go to jail; to be fair, it worked sometimes and those guys became productive).

AF_Chief_Master_Sgt | April 6, 2023 at 8:50 am

Women in Sports Campaign

Does that refer to real women in sports, or chicks with dicks?

henrybowman | April 6, 2023 at 8:57 am

“because Space Force is small, it can be both picky and flexible in choosing its personnel… Picky in that it should seek enlistees with highly specialized technical skills. But flexible in that it can take a more holistic view of candidates who might not perfectly align with the requirements to enter other military branches.

E Howard Hunt | April 6, 2023 at 9:05 am

A biometric machine cannot give a better reading of BMI, which is already exactly known. It can give an accurate reading of the percentage of body fat.

    Caver37 in reply to E Howard Hunt. | April 6, 2023 at 10:03 am

    You are right, BMI is purely a ratio of weight to height.

    Body composition (lean muscle vs body fat) is what they are trying to measure with any of these programs. Not sure if they still use it, but when I was in the Army about 10 years ago, if you did not make Ht/Wt table standards they would (for males) take height, neck, and waist measurements and look up on a chart (which was based on a formula) to determine what your body fat percentage was. For females, there was like five different parts measured (waist, hips, forearm, something else) and a different set of tables/formula.

    diver64 in reply to E Howard Hunt. | April 7, 2023 at 3:47 am

    Not so. I got yearly waivers while in the military because i failed the BMI due to weight training and low body fat. The standard BMI is strictly a height/weight thing from a chart. A biometric machine will cut straight through the nonsense in a short time without the hassle of appeals and waivers to stay in.

Since the US Space Force is smaller and more selective, that speaks highly of your son who recently joined as I recall.

morristhecat | April 6, 2023 at 9:52 am

I live near Wright Patt AFB in Ohio. I see the fat bodies shopping in the local grocery store. Soda’s, candy and chips in the cart. Uniforms so tight the buttons are straining to keep it all in. Sick, sad and sorry what our military services have become.

The pride, the woke, the comorbid.

My son is an NCO in Space Force, he was a transfer from US Army. In the Army he had a Top Secret security clearance with things like clearance for Special Access Progams, etc. Still has it, and uses it.

The Army paid him substantial recruitment and retention bonuses. Space Force and Air Force don’t.

Army offers Warrant Officer career paths for people that are highly skilled, with pay and perks almost identical to a commissioned Officer. Space Force and Air Force do not.

Upside to Space Force, you will never deploy. In the Army he spent a year in Afghanistan. Air Force may deploy you.

Air Force used to have the cool factor, which has taken a hit, since Space Force is way cooler. I tell people my son is in Space Force and there is a definite cool reaction. When he was Army there was a respect reaction, but no cool reaction.

A lot of his friends in the Army, with the same MOS, applied for Space Force but were turned down. A number of them now work for private sector DOD contractors, at the same Space Force base as my son. (Note his type of Top Secret clearance cost the Army over 6 figures to get, which is a real inducement for private sector to poach these guys.) His friends have suggested that if he wants to leave Space Force they can probably line him up for a job with their private sector employer. (I half suspect they would get a bonus if they recruit my son.)

He says the woke stuff is pretty much considered a joke by the NCOs. In the Army his black officers considered it a joke. The transgendered personnel get away with pretty much anything they want, because nobody wants to deal with the inevitable discrimination charge. Not good for morale or discipline.

I also learned that the Space Force assigned him a malcontent. that doesn’t want to be there. The malcontent is very passive aggressive. Evidently the thought was my son was former Army and would be better able to handle a malcontent. I listened to my son tell me about what it is like to deal with a malcontent in the military today. I was stunned. It is almost as difficult to get rid of a malcontent in the military as any govt agency. My son’s grandfather and great uncle would be shaking their heads – one a Korea veteran, the other a WWII veteran.

My daughter in law complains about his low pay. I sense an increasing dissatisfaction from my son. We are about to lose a superior NCO. Cool factor and patriotism can only go so far to make up for good pay.

In short, the Air Force is going to have to change its attitude about retention bonuses and Warrant Officer career tracks or recruitment isn’t going to be its only problem.

Wasn’t it Sparta that mothers told their sons, to come home victorious or on their shields? As that tradition died out, so did Sparta.

When my son wanted to become a Cavalry Scout I talked him out of it. I feared he would go to Iraq or Afghanistan and come back broken mentally or physically, and then we would tuck tail and run. Raising the question, why risk your mental and physical health for nothing? He switched to a tech specialty that was substantially lower risk. Good thing, since he went to Afghanistan, and Biden fled their in the biggest fiasco since Dunkirk.

They are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Soon they will have to bring back the draft to fill the ranks.

My wife’s granddaughter passed on an Air Force Academy appointment due to her concern that she would have to abandon her conservative values and upbringing. That is how bad it is.

    alaskabob in reply to Bob T. | April 6, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    My wife was the first Oklahoma woman to go to the Academy. I told her about this. She understands how much was given up but she absolutely stands by your granddaughter’s decision. The USAFA would be hostile territory.

    Compare the recruitment video for the US Army versus the Russian. The former celebrating DEI and the later… toughness, fitness, excellence.

Subotai Bahadur | April 6, 2023 at 6:18 pm

The target of the campaign, she said: “Approximately 7.6 million 18- to 24-year-old women [who] watch women’s sports on YouTube.”

Interesting, as I figure that will all the infiltration of men into women’s sports, soon there will no longer be women’s sports as the real women just give it up.

Subotai Bahadur

    diver64 in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | April 7, 2023 at 3:34 am

    They are targeting women who watch sports not women who play sports. Wonder what the problem is there and besides, What Is A Woman?

I’m stunned. The people they are courting with the DEI/Woke nonsense aren’t joining any military service and in fact hate the entire US, those that will join the military hate that DEI stuff and want no part of it as signing on the dotted line to put your life at risk only to be told your a racist, America sucks and boys can be girls then watch the fitness standards be dropped to force women into special force and infantry units where they will get men killed. Who knew that would impact recruiting?

I was in better shape going into Basic than I was getting out. It took almost 2 months to get back where I could run 3 miles with the times I had before Basic.

I retired USAF 19 years ago. I grew up on a hay farm so I had large shoulders, arms and neck so I was at or just above my max weight all 21 years. I had my BMI checked almost yearly and was in the 12-15% range. When I got my line number for E-7 the AF changed the rules and I had to be under my max weight regardless of my BMI. I sewed on my Master stripe 4 months late as that was how long it took me to loose 11 pounds with a 14% BMI.