IMO the military can't lose the excess weight fast enough. I'd rather have recruits show up in standards than waste an entire recruit training period rehabilitating wrenched knees, sprained ankles, tendonitis, & twisted backs. These people will be under enough stress without the added complication of learning to eat right & lose weight. But that's just my opinion from my training-command experience.
Originally Posted by razztazz
These would be size requirements, not weight
You're right, Razz, the Navy's physical qualifications are based on size, but that includes trunk sizes as well as height. David Robinson couldn't qualify for flight training and I believe he was also DQ for submarines (not sure) but he "fit in" just fine with the Supply Corps. Eddie Meyers (who looked like Captain America in an ensign's uniform) and Napoleon McCallum were perpetually over the height-weight limits but were always waivered for excess muscle mass. No favoritism implied, I knew those two personally and they certainly earned the waivers.
The 1970s Navy had a stereotype CPO-- 5'10", at least 250 lbs, a belly whose six-pack had turned into an entire keg, a cigar in the left hand, and a coffee cup surgically attached to the right index finger. The coffee cup could be detached as necessary for beer (only on liberty, of course) when 12-15 containers could be consumed with little or no visible effect (except on the aforementioned kegger belly).
My spouse, with 26 years of active/Reserve time, has asked me to point out that this stereotype was usually male. We agreed that I rate leaving in the word "usually". BTW, this male would also have lots of facial hair (but a clean-shaven neck for an airtight seal on that firefighting facemask).
What would you look like in a job with 99% boring watchbill routine, 1% life-endangering sheer panic, mediocre pay & benefits-- and all the coffee, tobacco, & free ice cream you can handle? Here's one way to simulate those conditions in the comfort of your own home.
I don't want to know about the Army or Marine versions, let alone people that embark on that life with one foot in the gravy.
The officers were at least as bad as the CPOs so I'll just use the word "leader". When I was standing watch back aft, our space had a barometer mounted on a bulkhead. One particular "leader" was so big (I'm not talking vertically) that his protracted attempts to squeeze through the hatch would block the ventilation system's air supply through that opening. Pressure in our space would drop at least a half-inch psig, followed shortly by an earp-popping WHOOSH as the "leader" got a pneumatic boost through the hatch.
When the Navy began a rudimentary physical fitness program (early 1980s) we had to make sure that we didn't kill those we were trying to make fit, so the maximum time for the 1.5-mile "run" was 16 minutes. One "leader" used to walk fast, smoke an entire cigarette at the halfway point, and huff/puff to the finish line within that time.
Another shipmate "leader" was wider at the waist from front to back than he was from hip to hip. This caused a lot of problems in the narrower passages where he was required to make inspection tours. At one point he was forbidden from entering the reactor compartment for fear that he'd get stuck inside and either "overexpose" himself (so to speak) or get injured & contaminated.
Why didn't we throw these people out? Believe me, we tried. However this was the Cold War and we needed every sailor/officer we could keep. We started paying annual bonuses to officers that amounted to 10% base pay, and some enlisted technicians signing a six-year contract could receive a bonus of a year's pay.
It became more serious after the USS BONEFISH fire (1982) and the USS STARK attack (1987). Even after the beginnings of a physical fitness program, sailors were quickly overcome with oxygen debt during the damage-control efforts and became additional injuries at a time when every able-bodied person was needed for firefighting. When the Navy realized that it was costing far more to live with these problems than it was to retain the "leaders", the changes began in earnest.
We used to run fire drills where the crew had to strap an unconscious injured person in a stretcher, put an air mask on their face (smoke-filled compartments) and evacuate them before they bled to death (or suffocated). NAVSEA data in an instrumented fire-testing hull indicated survival rates below 10% for a 180-lb crash-test dummy, and for a time it was actually considered "safer" to drag the casualties away from the flames and bring the medics to them. Now imagine that the casualty weighs over 250 lbs.
I was no prince myself. I'm 5'10" and I entered college at 177 lbs. (A upper-limit BMI of 25 would require a weight more like 170.) By the time I started my first submarine tour I was at 185 and I left it (three years later) at 205. I slimmed down a little at Monterey and worked out like crazy at department head school to get back to (a much more muscular) 185. However 30 more months at sea quickly converted that back to 205 lbs of enhanced bodyfat. I didn't make real weight-loss progress until I started tae kwon do, and sixteen months later I'm back down to 175.
Today it's much easier to run afoul of the Navy's physical-fitness requirements. My height-weight limit is 196 lbs, above which you'd be measured for bodyfat. (My muscles saved me every time.) The fitness test is still laughable but more challenging
-- it's a warmup to a good workout without risking cardiac arrest. Low scores on the physical-fitness test count against promotion rankings. Failure renders one ineligible for promotion. Multiple failures mean discharge at the end of an enlistment and, for officers, failure to promote meant discharge before retirement eligibility (or, if already past 20 years, being forced into retirement).
Don't miss the good ol' days one bit...