It's no secret that military recruitment numbers have been on the decline in recent years. There're many factors that play into this, but one of the main reasons is eligibility. According to Tim Kennedy, however, the military isn't out of luck just yet. And his solution doesn't (and none should ever) involve lowering the standards.
On a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Kennedy discussed, at great depth, the problems that plague recruiting depots, specifically recruitment within the Special Forces community. There simply aren't enough able-bodied recruits. Obesity remains the leading disqualifying factor among young Americans.
All jokes about the branches with the "biggest boys" aside, the military cannot relax its stance on physical fitness standards. (Photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)
Recruits need to be able to meet physical requirements. While basic training and boot camp help slim down prospective troops, recruits must join up at a trainable level — after all, a drill sergeant isn't a miracle worker.
"It's harder to get into the military than it is to get into college," says Kennedy. "You can't go into the military if you smoke weed. You can't go into the military if you have bad eyes. You can't go into the military if you're diabetic," and the list goes on. "You can go to college if you have all those things."
If college was so much more difficult than the military, then so many veterans wouldn't finish their time in the service and easily get in to nearly any university. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)
Those factors above disqualify, off the bat, roughly 71 percent of young adults. Then, when you factor in the willingness to join among the remaining 29 percent, you're stuck with the headache-inducing task of bringing in just 182,000 new troops this year. "The perception of the military is way less of an issue than us just having a qualified population of viable candidates to chose from."
The obvious solution is to tell young adults to get healthy. But, as anyone who has had any sort of interaction with young adults can tell you, you'd be better off asking a brick wall to do something. Being unfit for service is a cultural problem that no amount of snazzy recruitment videos can fix.
Kennedy's suggestion makes far more sense — and it was how he was brought into the military: selectively recruiting physically fit student athletes. Convincing a small subset of students to join is a much easier task than convincing the youth at large to slim down.
I'm not going to lie, having a recruiter sh*t-talk me while I was trying to impress him with my whole two pull-ups as a teenager may or may not have played a huge role in my enlistment. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)
Back in Tim Kennedy's high school wrestling days, he was approached by an Army Special Forces recruiter in a really bad suit. All it took was for the recruiter to show up and say, "hey guys, ever thought about Army Special Forces?" He handed Kennedy the card and took off.
That's all it took to snag the most-beloved Green Beret of our generation.
To watch the rest of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, check out the video below.