from the new-military-overlords dept.
Clifford Davis reports that seven out of 10 young people between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible to become soldiers primarily due to three issues: obesity or health problems; lack of a high school education; and criminal histories.
"There's a reliance on an ever-smaller group of people to serve and defend the country," says Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, "What do we do about that and how do we address that concern?"
While cognitive and moral disqualifications have held steady, weight issues account for 18% of disqualifications, and the number is rising steadily, according to Batschelet. It's projected to hit 25% by 2025, which Batschelet calls "troubling."
The current Army policy is that every recruit, whether enlisting for infantry or graphic design, has to meet the same physical requirements to join -- that may be changing.
"Today, we need cyber warriors, so we're starting to recruit for Army Cyber," says Batschelet. "One of the things we're considering is that your [mission] as a cyber warrior is different.
"Maybe you're not the Ranger who can do 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups and run the 2-mile inside of 10 minutes, but you can crack a data system of an enemy." Batschelet admits that such a drastic change may be hard for some to swallow.
"Societally, the bottom line is that the Army had a demand-based model under the all-volunteer force for the last 40 years," says Batschelet. "We didn't have to worry too much about it because supply was adequate to demand. It just doesn't look like that is going to be the case going forward."
It began with menacing phone calls, strange malfunctions of the office computers, and men in parked cars photographing the entrance to the small consumer advocacy group's offices. Then at dusk one day last December, Dr. Esperanza Cerón, the head of the organization, said she noticed two strange men on motorcycles trailing her Chevy sedan as she headed home from work. She tried to lose them in Bogotá's rush-hour traffic, but they edged up to her car and pounded on the windows. "If you don't keep your mouth shut," one man shouted, she recalled in a recent interview, "you know what the consequences will be."
The episode, which Dr. Cerón reported to federal investigators, was reminiscent of the intimidation often used against those who challenged the drug cartels that once dominated Colombia. But the narcotics trade was not the target of Dr. Cerón and her colleagues. Their work had upset a different multibillion-dollar industry: the makers of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Their organization, Educar Consumidores, was the most visible proponent of a proposed 20 percent tax on sugary drinks that was heading for a vote that month in Colombia's Legislature. The group had raised money, rallied allies to the cause and produced a provocative television ad that warned consumers how sugar-laden beverages can lead to obesity and diet-related illnesses like diabetes. The backlash was fierce. A Colombian government agency, responding to a complaint by the nation's leading soda company that called the ad misleading, ordered it off the air. Then the agency went further: It prohibited Dr. Cerón and her colleagues from publicly discussing the health risks of sugar, under penalty of a $250,000 fine.