The U.S. military is a couple of years into a major transition period. After September 11, 2001, there was an increased demand in recruiting new members to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were many gray areas on minimum standards, and incentives, such as signing bonuses, were offered to draw Americans of enlisting age into the ranks of military service. Although recruiters were still seeking quality applicants, the focus was definitely on quantity.
Now, after more than twelve years of war and maintaining a wartime military force, combined with budget concerns due to a struggling economy, the Pentagon is down-sizing. All branches have begun to “trim the fat” by implementing stricter height/weight/body fat standards. In June, the Army announced that 1,600 majors and captains were being let go. This would generally be the point when each service branch of service would announces the narrowing of its eligibility requirements.
So what are we to think when a branch actually widens one of its requirements?
Under federal law, the top age that any new recruit can be is 42 years old when they enlist. However, each branch can decide their own specific standards. At the start of 2014, the Army had the widest age range of any military branch by allowing recruits as old as 35 into its ranks. The Navy and the Marine Corps were next, allowing recruits as old as 34. The Air Force had the narrowest age range at 27.
On June 24th,the Air Force announced that it was expanding its eligibility age limit to 39 years old. The change comes after a recent decline in Air Force enlistment that was even greater than what the down-size called for.
While Air Force recruits can now be older, the branch has not altered its height/weight, body fat percentage, minimum physical requirements, or ASVAB test score requirements. These standards were already among the most exacting in the military. This means that even if new Air Force recruits can be older, they still have to be lean, fast and smart in order to be accepted.
Do you have what it takes to join the Air Force?
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Military Connection: Air Force Opens Eligibility: By Debbie Gregory