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Assessing Fitness for Military Enlistment: Physical, Medical, and Mental Health Standards
measures, the use of a common set of basic fitness measures would aid understanding of fitness across the Services.
Recommendation 2-3: We recommend that an inter-Service panel develop a common core set of uniformly administered fitness measures for use across the Services in research studies on physical fitness and its policy implications for military service. This does not preclude the use of additional Service-specific measures or the setting of differing standards by each Service.
Initial contacts between military recruiters and youth interested in military service are exploratory. In most cases, youth seek information from recruiters in more than one Service. In addition to providing information to the prospective enlistee, recruiters determine an applicant’s initial eligibility for military service. They ask questions regarding age, citizenship, education, involvement with the law, use of drugs, and physical and medical conditions that could preclude enlistment. Most prospects take an aptitude screening test at a recruiting office. Estimates are that 10 to 20 percent of prospects do not continue beyond this point (Waters, Laurence, and Camara, 1987:12).
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
Prospects who meet initial qualifications take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), the first formal step in the process of applying to enlist in the Armed Forces. The ASVAB is a battery of tests used by DoD to determine enlistment eligibility and qualifications for military occupations. It consists of 10 tests (11 if the applicant takes the computer-adaptive test at a MEPS), four of which comprise the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT): arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word knowledge, and paragraph comprehension. The AFQT, a general measure of trainability and predictor of on-the-job performance, is the primary index of recruit aptitude.
AFQT scores, expressed on a percentile scale, reflect an applicant’s standing relative to the national population of men and women ages 18 to