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Army Claims the Title of Fattest Branch of the Military

fat soldier

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. military is growing larger, but not in a good way.

Today’s military is fatter than ever, and according to Pentagon statistics, the Army is the heaviest, with 10 per cent of soldiers considered clinically overweight.

Weighing in at a close second is the Air Force, and the Navy is in third place.

The Marine Corps appears to have the fittest service members. With that said, some 4,800 Marines appear to be heavier than regulations allow.

The Pentagon’s data is based on body mass index, or BMI. Individuals with a BMI greater than 25 are considered clinically obese.

Weight issues have broad implications for the health and readiness of today’s force.

But military officials caution against placing too much emphasis on BMI scores, which simply evaluate an individual’s height and weight to flag those who might have unhealthy levels of body fat. The measurement is often criticized as a blunt tool that wrongly identifies bodybuilders with heavy muscle mass as being fat while missing flabby and unfit people with lanky body types.

The rate of overweight troops is far less than the civilian population, with approximately 70 percent of U.S. adults having a BMI above 25.

The Army emphasizes  that fitness is an important part of its culture.

“The physical readiness of our soldiers is imperative to unit readiness and mission accomplishment,” said spokesman Paul Prince. “The Army has strict physical fitness requirements and has multiple, coordinated initiatives in place designed to improve the readiness and health of the total Army.”

An Air Force spokesman said,  “Our Air Force is healthy and fit to fight, with approximately 96 percent of airmen passing the test in the past two years, which is up significantly from the 2010 pass rate of 87.6 percent.”

And a Navy spokesman highlighted changes made to its annual fitness test last year that make it more difficult for sailors to fail the body composition assessment portion of the Navy’s physical fitness assessment.

But failure will come at a higher cost, as two failures within three years can result in a sailor being kicked out of the Navy, according to the service’s new rules.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army Vet Uses Skills to Free Bald Eagle

eagle

By Debbie Gregory.

A U.S. army veteran saved the life of a bald eagle by using a semi-automatic rifle and his sharp-shooting skills to free the bird, which was trapped in a tree.

Jason Galvin and his wife, Jackie, noticed the eagle ensnared in rope around its leg, hanging 70 feet above ground from a tree, near Rush City, Minnesota.

Galvin used a borrowed .22-caliber rifle with a scope to sever the four inch thick rope after firing 150 shots. Galvin never hit the eagle.

The bird tumbled 75 feet to the ground. The couple wrapped it in a blanket and took it to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center.

“We named the eagle Freedom and hope to be able to release him near his home once he is back to health!” Jackie Galvin wrote on Facebook.

Although Galvin was facing windy conditions which made the shot difficult, he was determined to free the bird.

“It was a good weekend for it to happen,” Galvin said. “Fourth of July, you know, that’s our bird. I can’t let it sit there.”

Since June 20, 1782, the bald eagle has been the emblem of the United States of America, chosen because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.

The Galvins initially called the police and fire departments after spotting the bird, but because it was so high up, the agencies were not able to help and “deemed this was going to be a loss.”

Before taking aim, Galvin also cleared his plan with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Phil Mohs, a conservation officer from the department, gave Galvin the go-ahead, believing the eagle would die in the tree if left alone.

The federally protected bird has been eating and drinking, although its long-term prognosis is unclear.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

How Big Should the Army Be?

armyreduction

By Debbie Gregory.

As the U.S. winds down the Afghan war, the government has been eyeing a much reduced military force, with numbers at the lowest level since World War II. The downsizing is also due to defense cuts mandated by Congress.

The 2011 Budget Control Act required $500 billion in defense cuts over a decade, on top of $487 billion already planned.

The Army had drafted plans to reduce its troop size to 420,000 by 2021. But when the plan to reduce troop levels to that number was drafted, it did not take into account a sizable continuing force in Afghanistan and the need to defend against ISIS.

According to a report by a congressionally appointed commission, the size of the Army should not fall below 450,000 active-duty troops and 530,000 reservists for the foreseeable future.

The commission has also recommended that the Army add an armored brigade in Europe and leave an aviation brigade in South Korea.

“An Army of 980,000 is the minimally sufficient force to meet current and anticipated missions at an acceptable level of national risk,” said an executive summary of the report by the National Commission on the Future of the Army.

Former senior Army and Pentagon leaders who took part in the commission included: retired generals Carter Ham, Larry Ellis, and James D. Thurman, former assistant secretary of the Army Thomas Lamont, retired Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, former Pentagon comptroller Bob Hale, former deputy under-secretary of defense for policy Kathleen Hicks, and retired Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz.

Lawmakers reached a two-year agreement that would reduce the level of cuts for 2016 and 2017, but the cuts are slated to return in 2018. But even if the cuts remain in place, the Army may still reduce to 420,000 personnel.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Army Wants to Slow Drawdown

Army to slow force size reduction

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Army is now looking into measures to slow the drawdown, though the military branch still intends to reach its planned force size of 450,000 active duty personnel.

The Army is currently slated to cut approximately 20,000 soldiers every year to reach the target number by the end of fiscal 2017. If on schedule, the Army is expected to reach a force size of 490,000 by the end of fiscal 2015. But new discussions have Army leaders talking about avoiding sequestration in 2016, and moving the timeline back by one year.

With that said, Army leadership does not have the ability to make this decision on its own. Congress must approve what would amount to a personnel increase for fiscal years 2016-2018. Right now, Army brass is considering what options to present to Congress.

Soldiers should not breathe a sigh of relief about their jobs security just yet. While a year-long pause in sequestration would improve the Army’s flexibility, should a greater force size than 450,000 be needed, that number is still locked in for the long term.

The Army sees altering its drawdown plan as a necessary measure. Commanders estimate that only 36% of the Army’s units are adequately prepared to deploy in response to a world crisis. The Army wants to have 65%-70% of its units mission-ready and available for rapid deployment, if necessary. If their force sizes continue to decrease, it will only hurt Army readiness even further, as cuts are generally being made in the middle and upper-middle levels of the officer and enlisted ranks.

Under sequestration, the Army could be forced to shrink to 420,000 soldiers.

An active duty end-strength of 450,000 personnel would generate challenges in manning and readiness, but there is a belief that sequestration could eventually impose an Army force size of just 420,000. Part of this move to delay the drawdown could also be seen as defense against an ending force strength of 420,000, which many around the Pentagon believe to be too small for ideal national security.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Too Uniform? By Debbie Gregory

Army diversityMost military forces pride themselves on their uniformity. Marching as one and fighting as one are what most commanders hope to achieve. Basic training instructors drill and inspect recruits to ensure uniformity. But presently, the U.S. Army is concerned with a lack of diversity among its personnel.

There is a glaring lack of minority officers currently serving in the U.S. Army.  Army officials are currently taking measures to expand recruiting efforts to target more minority officers.

In 2014, the Army reported that only one of its twenty-six brigades was commanded by a black colonel. Brigades are comprised of three to four battalions, with each battalion made up of approximately 800-1,000 soldiers. There is only one black officer slated to head a single battalion, out of the 78 battalions in the Army in 2015.

This is a case where diversity could be a valuable asset. While minority officers are less common than white officers, the minority population among enlisted is over 30%. It makes total sense to have the minority population among officers closer to the same dispersal of minority enlisted personnel.

In order to accomplish their mission, Army leadership is planning to target a recruitment campaign at cities that have concentrated minority populations. The Army named Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Phoenix as their target cities.

The Army wants to entice more members from minority communities to earn their degrees and become officers. Recruiters will push potential college-aged candidates to join programs like the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), that help them pay for college degrees in exchange for a contracted amount of time spent serving as an officer.

Of course, finding young minority officers now is the key to diversifying the next generation of the Army’s leaders.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Too Uniform? By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New On-Base Wi-Fi Program: By Debbie Gregory

wifiGreat news for Soldiers, Marines and Airmen! An improved Wi-Fi service could be heading to an installation near you.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Marine Corps Non-Appropriated Fund Business and Support Services Division are closing in on a deal that would feature a new service plan to thirty installations through Boingo Wireless.

Under the new plan, service members living on base in barracks and in dormitories will be given free in-room access to an all wireless basic internet plan, with a data transfer speed of 128 kilobits per second, as well as internet based television with local channels.

Service members will also be given the option to pay for upgrades, including faster internet speeds and more television channels. There will be multiple options and prices offered through the new deal, including internet-only upgrades, and packages with combined television and internet upgrades. The largest package includes an expanded Internet with up to 30 Mbps, packaged with 100-plus channels for $89.95 a month. A five MB per-second service will be offered for $29.95 per month. Pricing will be standardized from base to base, wherever it is provided.

Along with being considerably lower priced for comparative services, the services will not require long-term contracts. The upgrade programs will all be offered on a month to month basis, which is ideal for service members on the go.

And one more bonus is that service plans will be  transferable to any installation that offers the service. So service members going TDY, attending a training or being permanently reassigned can take their plans with them, making for a seamless transition.

The service is now available through Boingo Wireless at Camp Pendleton, CA, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, AZ, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, CA, Fort Eustis, VA, and Barksdale Air Force Base, LA.

Most Marine Corps installations will have the Boingo Wireless service implemented by 2015. The Army and Air Force expect to expand the service to eleven additional installations by October 1, 2014, and to most of the remaining installations by the end of next summer.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New On-Base Wi-Fi Program: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Females with Ranger Tabs? By Debbie Gregory

Female RangersWhile opportunities in all branches of the armed forces are less abundant than they were just a few years ago, there is one population that appears to be in high demand for military officials. The Army could be looking for female volunteers to attend Ranger school.

Last week, Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Navy, Ray Mabus, voiced his desire to see more females in Navy and Marine Corps uniforms. Now it seems that senior Army leaders might be looking for female soldiers to participate in a one-time opportunity to attend the elite Army Ranger training.

The invitation is part of the military-wide effort to assess how to open combat-oriented occupational specialties to women. The Army is expected to decide in January if it wants to proceed with its experiment of an integrated Ranger school. If the Army does move forward, it would more than likely happen in Spring, 2015.  At that point, the Army will need female volunteers already in place and ready for Ranger school.

As part of this potential experiment, the Army is looking for two groups of volunteers, as outlined in two separate All-Army Activity messages.The Army is seeking female soldiers in ranks E-4 through O-4 who would be interested in attending Ranger school as students. All applicants must meet the same prerequisites and physical qualifications that males are held to in order to attend Ranger school.

Any female soldier who volunteers and manages to successfully complete and graduate from Ranger school will receive a graduation certificate, and be awarded and authorized to wear the Ranger tab.

However, women who graduate Ranger school may or may not be permitted to receive the associated Ranger skill identifiers, or be assigned to Ranger coded units or positions, pending future decisions about whether women will be allowed to serve in combat arms MOSs.

Female soldiers can also volunteer to serve as observers and advisers to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. These slots are open to enlisted personnel E-6 through E-8 and officers in paygrades of CWO 2-3 and O-2 through O-4. Volunteers for this assignment will not be Ranger instructors, and they will not evaluate students in the course.

Selection packets for both groups are due by October 10, 2014. Interested soldiers should work with their personnel officers and chain of command to submit their applications.

Applicants should be able to find out the results of their applications in December.

The Army has not yet determined how many volunteers it needs, part of the open-call is also is to determine the level of interest among female soldiers.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Females with Ranger Tabs? By Debbie Gregory