The U.S. military is considering relaxing "unnecessarily restrictive" standards for people who want to serve their country.
The Military Times reported Tuesday that Defense Secretary Ash Carter has proposed a systematic review of how applicants who are overweight, use marijuana, have tattoos or are single parents are considered when they apply to join the service.
In a speech to reserve training officers at the City College of New York on Tuesday, Carter foreshadowed his plans for the "Force of the Future":
We’re going to review and update these standards as appropriate. Now, some of these things we’ll never be able to compromise on. And we will always have to maintain high standards. But at the same time, these benchmarks must be kept relevant for both today’s force and tomorrow’s, meaning we have to ensure they’re not unnecessarily restrictive.
Defense officials immediately pushed back against critics' claim that such changes would affect traditional military standards. One official told the Times that Carter is "not saying ‘it doesn’t matter how overweight somebody is,’ because it does matter. Fitness does matter in the service. But one of the responsibilities that we have when we bring people in is to make them fit, if they are not already."
“We have to judge whether, if we have [an applicant with] a fitness problem, is it a fitness problem in which they are not going to be able to achieve our standards? Or is it a fitness problem where we can help them through it and they can meet our standards?" the official added.
Carter also said the military is going to “assess the feasibility and impact of updated standards” on the issue of “past marijuana use," especially as many states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use. The Pentagon is also reviewing whether to accept applicants with lots of tattoos, as well as single parents, both of which the military has traditionally rejected.
“We are going to look at them systematically and evaluate them against our needs and make sure we’re as flexible as we need to be so we can get the best possible force in," one defense official told the Times.
(H/T: Daily Caller)