Recruits can now take academic and fitness trails in the new Basic Training Readiness class, Army says

Fitness path students at the Army's Future Soldier Preparatory Course receive resilience training at Fort Jackson, SC on Dec. 13, 2022. The course provides targeted fitness and academic instruction for those with the desire and ability to achieve army standard and serve in the force.

Fitness path students at the Army’s Future Soldier Preparatory Course receive resilience training at Fort Jackson, SC on Dec. 13, 2022. The course provides targeted fitness and academic instruction for those with the desire and ability to achieve army standard and serve in the force. (Keion Jackson/US Army)

WASHINGTON The Army is expanding access to its new preparatory course to allow a candidate to enroll in fitness and academic courses to help more potential recruits meet service entry requirements.

Expanding eligibility for the Future Soldier Prep Course is a positive step in providing America’s youth with the opportunity to overcome obstacles and be all that they can be, said Sgt. Army Major Michael Grinston, the highest-ranking enlisted officer in the service.

When the Army introduced the course last year as a pilot program to aid recruiting, candidates were allowed to enroll in either the academic or physical fitness track, but not both. The idea was to develop them to score higher in one of those areas so that they would qualify for basic training.

Due to the pilot program’s high success rates, the Army said it has decided to open the course so that recruits can enroll in both tracks, essentially giving them twice the opportunity to make it to basic training. .

The initial results of the preparatory course for future soldiers have been promising and have given thousands of young men and women the opportunity to join our ranks, said Lieutenant General Maria Gervais, deputy commanding general of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command . This course change will increase the quality of people entering basic training and provide additional opportunities for our nations’ youth to serve in our all-volunteer force.

Each track is a week-long course designed to help recruits meet Army physical and academic enlistment qualifications.

The Army introduced the Future Soldier Prep Course last summer as an attempt to increase the size of the candidate recruiting pool. Fewer than 25 percent of American youth ages 17 to 24 can meet the academic and physical requirements to enlist in the military, according to recent Pentagon data. Officials said one major barrier for many is obesity.

The obesity rate exceeds 20% among 12-19 year olds. Armed Service Professional Aptitude Battery test scores have declined 9% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. All told, only 23 percent of young Americans are fully qualified to enter the military, said Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis, commanding general at Fort Jackson, SC. ​​The Army recognizes that the social hardships our youth faces are not going away, so we will do something about it and build the next generation of soldiers.

Under the Army’s expanded course, dual-enrolled recruits will take the academic track first, and those who complete it will have their body fat measured. Recruits whose body fat falls within 2 percent of the Army standard, which varies by gender, age, height, and weight, will go straight to basic training. Those with body fat exceeding 2% will begin the path of fitness improvement at Fort Jackson.

Recruits’ high scores on the military service aptitude battery, the military’s standardized entrance test, determines whether they take the academic path at Fort Jackson or Fort Moore, Georgia.

We would be doing a great disservice by rejecting motivated applicants who have the noble purpose of joining the military but weren’t fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that could help them achieve their goals, Michaelis said.

The Army also announced that the service will also allow 100 recruits who have slightly lower entrance test scores to enroll in the academic track. Between the start of the course last August and May, some 8,500 students attended and 6,200 graduated from basic training, the service said.

The Future Soldier Prep Course is one of many efforts the Army has launched over the past year to improve recruiting. Last year, the service missed its recruitment goal by about 15,000. This year, it aims to recruit 65,000 new recruits, but senior army officials have already said reaching that target will be a challenge.

We are challenged by the fact that small numbers of young Americans are qualified to serve, General Randy George, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, told a congressional panel earlier this year. Even fewer, they’re finding, are interested in serving. And that’s something we’re working very hard to change.

It took us more than a year to get into the situation we were in, in terms of the recruiting landscape, and I think it will take us more than a year to turn that situation around, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told reporters in February. . We are in the process of reintroducing the military to the American public.

The Army said more changes to the evolving Services Readiness Course may still be on the way, depending on the results from Fort Jackson and Fort Moore.

The Army will continue to evaluate and scale the prospective soldier’s preparatory course to ensure we are successfully preparing and building quality recruits, the Army said.

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