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Assessing Fitness for Military Enlistment: Physical, Medical, and Mental Health Standards
Develop a profile of the physical and medical condition of American youth today and in the future. Characterize youth, using scientific literature that offers insight into their anthropometric characteristics, fitness, nutrition, medical, and mental health status. Evaluate demographic trends in light of existing and potential physical and medical standards for military service.
Examine the changing nature of work generally and the new demands placed on the military in the post–cold war era, using the work of the NRC’s Committee on Techniques for the Enhancement of Human Performance: Occupational Analysis as a point of departure. Review the literature on the physical requirements of military jobs. Consider the implications of current and projected trends in work as they impact approaches to selecting youth with appropriate health status and physical abilities.
Review the literature on the predictive validity of medical and physical selection standards for training and job performance in the military and in the civilian population. Gather evidence on the utility of such standards from experimental and observational studies.
Develop policy options. Consider a full range of personnel options for ensuring that recruits are healthy and fit for military service, including greater coordination of standards and measurement procedures among the military services, changes in the physical and medical standards applied to recruits, changes to the measures used to implement the standards, methods of validating standards, and changes in training to accommodate recruits selected under new standards.
Conduct a workshop on the physical requirements of military service. The workshop should provide a forum for discussions on methodological and substantive issues among committee members, DoD officials, and other experts.
The committee assembled to accomplish the charge is composed of experts in the areas of psychology, military personnel policy, military occupational analysis, military and occupational medicine, military sociology, obesity, physical fitness, chronic diseases, and mental health. Biographical sketches of committee members and staff are provided in Appendix D. In responding to the charge, the committee made a series of assumptions about the scope of the project and the key variables of interest.
The Committee’s View of the Project Scope
With regard to scope, three decisions guided the committee’s work. First, we decided to focus on American youth ages 18-24 as they relate to