member must maintain some minimal level of physical fitness (DoD Directive 1308.1). The philosophy that every member of a uniformed Service—regardless of job assignment—is a warrior is emphasized in all the Services. The demands expected to be placed on Service members in the future reinforce this notion. For example, Sager, Russell, Campbell, and Ford (2003) identified Army-wide common tasks for the future force that include numerous physically demanding tasks—such as react to combat situations, move through the battlefield, employ hand-to-hand techniques, control or evacuate crowds—that all soldiers will be required to perform.

While military service is now and is expected to remain a physically demanding occupation, there is little objective documentation of the level of fitness necessary to perform in most military occupational specialties (MOSs).2 With the exception of the Air Force’s Strength Aptitude Test (SAT)—and certain specialties with extreme physical fitness requirements, such as Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces, and Air Force Pararescue/ Recovery team members—the Services do not attempt to match the existing (or potential) physical fitness of recruits (or of Service members in general) with their MOSs. Rather, a collateral purpose of the military’s training system is to function as a screening system. The Air Force’s SAT—which includes no measures of aerobic fitness, endurance, or flexibility—sets a minimum standard for each Air Force specialty, based on actual measurement of physical job demands (weight lifted, pushed, pulled, etc.) in the specialty (Air Force Manual 36-2108, October 2003). The weight/force of each task is converted into equivalent performance on the SAT; the conversions are based on regression equations. Strength standards range from less than 40 up to 110 lbs. on the SAT for various Air Force jobs.

Documentation does not exist that would allow the committee to conduct an in-depth examination of the physical demands of each MOS in each Service (literally hundreds of distinct military jobs). On the surface, it is obvious that these jobs vary widely in the physical demands they place on incumbents as they go about their routine job tasks. For example, the daily tasks performed by an infantry soldier are far more physically demanding than the tasks performed by a personnel or accounting specialist. At the same time, the Services expect that all uniformed Service


The Services vary in the terminology used to characterize specific jobs or job series. MOS is used by the Army and the Marine Corps, and we adopt it here. The Air Force generally refers to Air Force specialties (AFS) or Air Force specialty code (AFSC), and the Navy refers to Navy ratings.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement