With recruiters struggling to meet quotas, soldiers will no longer have to meet weight limits if they score well on fitness tests
The US military would lift weight limits for its troops, allowing obese soldiers to remain in service and continue to be eligible for promotions if they perform well on their physical fitness tests. The rule change was revealed Wednesday by the Army’s highest-ranking enlisted chief, Sergeant Major Michael Grinston, according to Military.com.
Addressing soldiers at an Army conference in Washington, Grinston said: “If you score high on the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test), you should be good.”
Further weight policy changes are being considered and will be finalized by June, Grinston said. It has not been decided when the rule changes will go into effect. The Army has always required weigh-ins at least every six months and has prohibited troops deemed too large from re-enlisting, being promoted, transferred, or eligible to attend vocational schools.
The rule changes come on the heels of the Army falling 25% from its recruiting target for its fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, despite increasing enlistment bonuses to $50,000. . They also come amid the obesity epidemic in America. More than 42% of American adults are obese, and nearly 71% of Americans born after 1997 are ineligible for military service, most often because they are too fat to be eligible, according to Pentagon data.
It’s unclear whether the new rules will apply to new recruits, but the adjustment could allow commanders to retain veteran troops who might otherwise be kicked out for being overweight. Current restrictions are based on height and weight standards, as well as body fat percentage tests.
Troops who exceed the weight limit for their height undergo a so-called tape test – measuring their neck and waist – to determine their body fat percentage. For men, the fat limits vary from 20% to 26%, depending on their age category. The range is 30% to 26% for women.
Soldiers who score at least 540 out of 600 on the ACFT, which includes exercises such as the deadlift and a two-mile run, will be exempt from the weight limits. Earlier this year, the military relaxed fitness test standards for older women and men.