A drop in the number of young Americans meeting rigorous US Army enlistment standards – including their levels of body fat – has led to the creation of a new programme to help bring recruits up to scratch.
The Future Soldier Preparatory Course (FSPC) reportedly comes in response to figures that show only 23% fully meet the Army's eligibility requirements, down from 29% in recent years.
The pilot programme of the FSPC will provide focused academic and fitness instruction to help recruits meet the US Army's standards for body fat composition and academic test performance prior to basic training.
The pilot is set to start in early August at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and looks to provide education and training to help American youth overcome academic and physical fitness barriers to military service.
Two separate routes will be included: a fitness programme and an educational programme for recruits who need help improving their scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT).
Individuals in both routes will be projected to remain in the FSPC for a maximum of 90 days, with opportunities every three weeks to leave the programme and ship to basic training if they meet or exceed the US Army's "desired accession standards".
The US Army programme announcement comes as a British Army fitness instructor recently said youngsters need to stop pretending it is "OK" to be fat.
The serving Queen's Guard said the body positivity movement has led to Army recruits performing under-par physically and "shying away" from hard graft.
Lance Sergeant Farren Morgan, 36, who works as a physical training instructor for the Coldstream Guards in Westminster, London, suggested the movement is promoting obesity and making new British Army recruits soft.