At age 40 I was still jumping out of perfectly serviceable airplanes. I hated it. I was still putting on diving gear and doing approaches to beaches in the dark. I was still leading patrols and advancing to contact the enemy. I had to work out and run daily. I had to watch my diet. And it took me longer to recover and deal with the inevitable pain than the 25 year-olds in my unit.
The US Army has announced that they are increasing the "No prior service" recruiting age to 39 which means, as long as you haven't reached your 40th birthday on the day you apply, you will be processed.
There's nothing terribly wrong with recruiting 40 year olds and there are a multitude of occupations in the army which do not involve the physical demands of combat arms, but it does send a message: The US Army can't attract the people it needs.
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. (emphasis mine)
Gee. Ya think? And, I suppose the increase in age is just to provide middle-aged people with an opportunity they missed 20 years earlier.
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.
Oh! OK. It is an opportunity thing.
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.
Hmmm. But if they're motivated why do you have to give them 40 big ones?
"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.
Believe it all you want, Mr. Harvey, the proof is in your recruiting numbers and the frequency of rotation.
"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.
And the army instituted "stop loss" procedures on how many people?
The US Army was granted authorization by Congress to move their recruiting age to 42, but has opted to hold at age 40.... for now.