WASHINGTON — The Department of the Army today announced a new program designed to help potential recruits meet the service’s rigorous enlistment standards.
The Future Soldier Preparatory Course pilot program — scheduled to start in early August at Fort Jackson, SC — will provide education and training to help young Americans overcome the academic and physical barriers to military service.
“The Future Soldier Preparation Course provides recruits, who meet all other qualifications for enlistment, a path to service,” said Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commanding general of Training and Defense Command. doctrine. “The young men and women who will participate in this pilot have the desire to improve themselves and want to serve their country honorably. This course is a great way to increase opportunities for them to serve without sacrificing the quality needed for our entire force.
The course responds to the steep drop in the number of young Americans meeting the standards for enlistment in the military. Only 23% fully meet army eligibility criteria, down from 29% in recent years. The effects of the COVID pandemic over the past two years have only exacerbated enlistment barriers for many young Americans, with declining test scores and rising obesity across the country. .
“This course is one of many approaches the military is taking to invest in young Americans,” Funk said. “We need to recognize that society has changed and help our young people improve so that they can benefit from the training and opportunities that military service offers. The Army remains the best place where young people can fulfill their potential.
The pilot program will provide targeted academic and fitness instruction to help recruits meet the Army’s desired membership standards for body fat composition and academic test performance prior to basic training. It includes two distinct tracks: a physical fitness program and an educational program for recruits who need help improving their scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT).
Individuals in both tracks are expected to remain in the FSPC for a maximum of 90 days, with opportunities every three weeks to leave the program and complete basic training if they meet or exceed the membership standards desired by the FSPC. ‘army.
As part of their pre-enrollment process, all trainees will still need to pass the gender-neutral Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT), administered by a recruiter, to qualify for the level of physical fitness required for a MOS of the army before their participation in the preparatory course. Access to this program will allow those individuals who already meet all other qualifications for enlistment – including moral and medical accession standards – a way forward. Recruits admitted under this program will also be required to meet all Department of Defense enrollment and training standards, ensuring the overall quality of the force.
Recruits with an ASVAB (Armed Services Voluntary Aptitude Battery) score of 21 to 30 can only participate in the academic track. Recruits with an ASVAB score between 42 and 49 may be allowed to voluntarily participate in both tracks, the fitness portion before basic combat training and the academic portion after basic training. Individuals who improve their score above 50 move into the desired higher standard test score categories and are potentially eligible for additional MOS opportunities or enlistment incentives. A score of 31 is the minimum required under current membership guidelines for fitness track recruits.
The fitness class is an extension of the current Recruit Motivation and Strength Assessment (ARMS) 2.0 program, which allowed recruits to exceed the 2% body fat standard. These recruits were sent directly to basic training, were closely monitored throughout their enlistment, and ultimately subjected to existing Army physical fitness standards. The
The ARMS 2.0 expansion will place recruits who exceed the membership body fat composition standard by more than 2%, but no more than 6%, into the Future Soldier Preparatory Course fitness pathway.
“This course gives us the opportunity to unlock unrealized potential by surrounding trainees with experts they likely wouldn’t have access to back home,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Michaelis, the U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commanding General. “With the right instruction and professional support, we are confident they will be able to succeed and meet the standards expected of every soldier.”