tion of whether it is feasible or advisable to set different physical and medical standards for different military occupational specialties (MOSs). With limited exceptions, there is little research detailing the physical requirements of individual MOSs. However, the crucial feature regarding the question of setting lower standards for some MOSs than for others is the DoD policy decision that every uniformed service member must be combat-ready. This implies a common set of requirements for combat tasks, regardless of one’s primary MOS.

Part of the charge to the committee was to review evidence on the physical requirements of military jobs, but we found no research detailing the fitness requirements of all of the common military tasks required for combat readiness. Furthermore, there is no documentation that would allow an in-depth examination of the physical demands of each MOS in each Service. The committee therefore accepted the policy that military service itself requires a minimum level of physical fitness for all uniformed Service members. As noted in Department of Defense Instruction 1308.3, “It is DoD policy that physical fitness is essential to combat readiness and is an important part of the general health and well-being for Armed Forces personnel.”

Evaluating Standards

Task 3: 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.

Evaluation Methodology

The committee’s approach to evaluating existing standards was to assess their effects on attrition and injury during basic training and through the first term of service. Measuring job performance after training, although of considerable interest, was not possible due to the difficulty of obtaining valid and reliable measures of individual performance. Ideally, formal trade-off models, like those applied to assessing enlistment standards for education and aptitude, would be used to validate medical and physical standards. They would be particularly useful for continuous conditions, like weight and strength, for which no disqualifying level can be established clinically, as well as for dichotomous conditions, like the use/nonuse of marijuana or having/not having asthma; the presence of these conditions may reduce effectiveness but is not automatically disqualifying. Such models examine the trade-off between performance effectiveness and the proportion of potentially available recruits who have the necessary characteristics. At this time, the trade-off model-

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