The Military Times recently ran an article entitled “The U.S. military has a huge problem with obesity, and it’s only getting worse.” If true, maybe they should increase funding for the Army’s weight loss program. It’s bad enough that military.com asks “Are Troops Too Fat to Fight?” Military brass has promised that the future of the force is both smaller and leaner.
The army is getting fatter. It’s not because they’re so stressed from war. They’ve become complacent. Also, it’s important to note that the operational tempo has become so hectic it’s hard to stay in shape. It’s no excuse to widen to obesity, but it’s something to consider. The force is overweight, underpaid, and constantly on the move. They’re ready to do something when they get there. But, when they arrive it’s more paperwork and mundane tasks, but not war. All of this combined probably leads to eating as if it’s a drinking problem. Besides the chow halls abroad openly display a sweet tooth, and aren’t thinking about what’s necessarily healthy.
But, it’s because the standards aren’t being enforced by senior leaders. No one is immune from weak leadership. You could be kicked out if you never adhere to the norm. It’s a cause for relief from an assignment. It also damages combat effectiveness.
Wartime standards are looser standards than peace time. We need men to fight these wars. Fat, slim, tall, short, dumb and smart all welcome to die their country. But we’re moving towards a professional warfighter model. The lines that once separated enlisted and officer are becoming blurred. Eventually, we’ll have citizen soldiers that are more warrior diplomats. But we need to trim the fat first.
In the coming years, it’s more than likely that to promote to master sergeant and senior enlisted positions a graduate degree will be required. This begs the question the difference, on paper, between these jobs and commissioned officers. Cuts are openly said to increase. The military is being downsized. But it can be for the better if it becomes leaner at the same time.
The trend in business is lean. Everything must be streamlined, efficient and serving its intended purpose. But in the Army and the military as a whole, there’s a ton of additional jobs, functions and, apparently, paperwork. These services have probably worked in the past. But, updates are needed to avoid an unnecessarily painful budget slashed due to sequestration. The flip side is a more robust system required on the other end. A good reason to not get out is that civilian society is not only so different, but it’s also tough to assimilate.
There’s no real deployment like the one you experience when you come home or quit the military. But people will find themselves forced out or early retirement, which has happened before, without a plan or a way to stay out of poverty if the military budget doesn’t allow for an improved out-processing.
A lean future, sadly, means severe pain to see gains in the organization. The DoD is going to go through a transformation. Things are already changing. Our war footing has decreased, but we’re also asking more of soldiers than ever. Where small elements are going around the world to help contingency operations.
First things first – why has the army become fat? This is a jarring issue that limits progress towards the future model for warfighting. It also reveals a culture that’s become so complacent at war; it is overweight.
Featured image courtesy of www.wired.com.