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Author Topic: Army Raises Enlistment Age
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WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Army, which missed its fiscal 2005 recruiting goal, said on Wednesday it has raised the maximum enlistment age for new soldiers by five years to 39, greatly expanding its pool of potential recruits.

Army officials said the move did not reflect desperation to reverse recruiting shortfalls, noting the Army had achieved seven straight monthly recruiting goals despite coming up 7,000 short of last year's target of 80,000 recruits. The Army has blamed recruiting shortfalls in part on reluctance by some potential recruits to serve in the Iraq war.

Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said older recruits must meet the same physical standards as the younger ones and attend the same basic training. The new age ceiling applies to recruits without prior military service.

"Experience has shown that older recruits who can meet the physical demands of military service generally make excellent soldiers based on their maturity, motivation, loyalty and patriotism," Army Recruiting Command said in a statement.

"Raising the maximum age for active Army non-prior service enlistment expands the recruiting pool, provides motivated individuals an opportunity to serve, and strengthens the readiness of Army units," it said.

The Army, offering new financial incentives to recruits, also doubled the maximum combination of cash enlistment bonuses, up to $40,000 for the regular Army and up to $20,000 for the Army Reserve.

The part-time Army Reserve and Army National Guard increased their maximum enlistment ages by the same amount in March 2005 in an action not requiring congressional approval. For the regular Army, Congress authorized an increase in the maximum enlistment age up to age 42, but the Army opted to allow enlistment by those under age 40.


The announcement came hours after the civilian head of the Army downplayed recruiting woes.

"In the ongoing discussion and debate about Iraq, some have said the Army is severely stretched. A few have even described it as broken. I believe these comments are incorrect," Army Secretary Francis Harvey told a Pentagon briefing.

A leading Democratic critic of the Iraq war, Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, has called the Army "broken" and "worn out" by ongoing big overseas deployments and recruiting shortfalls, a view echoed by other critics.

"Recruiting, I don't think is a measure of the strain on the Army," said Harvey, who touted strong reenlistment among current soldiers and positive indicators on recruiting in future months.

Harvey also commented on the Army's decision last week to send 230,000 sets of side armor plates to augment body armor used by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.

The move followed the disclosure of an internal military report showing that better body armor might have prevented or limited about 80 percent of fatal torso wounds suffered by Marines killed in Iraq.

Harvey said in three years of casualty reports, the Army had found one fatal gunshot wound to the side.

Asked why the Army would field new armor to address such a small threat, Harvey said one death was too many, and that nonfatal wounds to the side might also be prevented. Harvey also said "all the publicity" about the study may have informed an "adaptive enemy" about vulnerabilities of U.S. body armor.

The new armor weighs about 5 pounds (2.3 kg), which adds to the roughly 70 pounds (32 kg) or more of armor and equipment some troops carry in Iraq. Some soldiers have said the extra weight could make them slower targets for insurgents.

While this could indicate (despite the insistence of the article) that we're facing a recruitment shortfall, I think this is one of the best decisions the Army has made in years. While middle aged people do heal up slower than younger people, the life expectancy and general health of the population has been rising for years, without a corresponding rise in the maximum age limits for employees. While companies may claim to hire older employees, it is very difficult to find a job when you're older and unemployed.

I am hopeful that the change in US Army procedure will be followed by a corresponding change in civilian corporations.


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Member # 1860

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Just because the armor is shipped and available doesn't mean troops have to wear it at all times. Soldiers still remove the back-plate from their current armor under certain situations. I have a hard time seeing the problem with making a more protective option available when troops themselves or their commanders deem it necessary.

Totally not the main point of your thread, I know FDR, but you pasted it [Smile]

I don't think the age limits would have been increased if not for shortfalls in recruiting, but at the same time I don't think that means our armed forces are "On the verge of collapse".

I don't see a lot of 38 year olds getting trained for the infantry, more likely were talking about people with pre-existing mechanical, linguistic, technical, or medical skills using those skills to the benefit of our military.

Without some trouble maintaining recruitment levels, this probably wouldn't have happened, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

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witless chum
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If you can plug a 37-year-old who already knows much of his army job from civilian life (before it got shipped to India) you can put a kid fresh out of high school that would have trained for that spot somewhere else, like infantry. Seems sensible.

Would be ironic if it hurt recruiting of younger people because older recruits were taking all the tech jobs that people want to get trained in the military. Or is that just crap that they show in their commericials?

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Because, at 35, I had just missed the cut off when I decided to look into doing this very thing. Now, at 37 (nearing 38), I'm going to have to give this some extremely serious thought....
assuming I can get in good enough shape to survive basic...

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Member # 1860

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If you can pass your enterance physical, you can get through basic barring any major physical injury.

I've known a lot of people, including marines, who barely got through their physical, and did fine. One of them was 32.

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