From USA Today:
Army makes way for older soldiers
Posted 8/1/2006 11:49 PM ET
Minimum physical requirements for recruits at the Army's age extremes:
16 minutes, 36 seconds
19 minutes, 30 seconds
19 minutes, 42 seconds
24 minutes, 6 seconds
Source: U.S. Army
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — The Army has begun training the oldest recruits in its history, the result of a concerted effort to fill ranks depleted during the Iraq war.
In June, five months after it raised the enlistment age limit from 35 to just shy of 40, the Army raised it to just under 42.
To accommodate the older soldiers, the Army has lowered the minimum physical requirements needed to pass basic training.
The first group of older recruits is going through basic training here. So far, only five people 40 and older — and 324 age 35 and older — have enlisted, Army records show.
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The Army also hopes to attract more recruits by offering shorter active-duty periods for some recruits, signing bonuses and bonuses for soldiers who persuade others to join.
David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, says the improved health and fitness of middle-aged Americans makes it possible for them to enlist.
The Army has the military's highest age limit. The Air Force's and Marines' limits are 27, while the Navy's is 35.
Allowing older soldiers makes sense if done properly, says Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Arlington, Va.
"For front-line combat troops, it's a bad idea," Thompson says. "But nobody is proposing putting 42-year-olds next to 18-year-olds on combat patrols. If it is correctly run, it could be a real boon."
The Army, which supplies most of the troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is on track to meet its recruiting goal of 80,000 new soldiers this year.
In 2005, the Army missed its 80,000 goal by 8% when it recruited 73,373 new soldiers.