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The Effect of the Assessment of Recruit Motivation and Strength (ARMS) Program on Army Accessions and Attrition

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Technical rept.

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In February 2005, the U.S. Army allowed six Military Entrance Processing Station MEPS locations Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Diego to enlist Army applicants who did not meet applicable weight-for-height and body fat percentage standards but who passed a test known as the Assessment of Recruit Motivation and Strength ARMS test.1 ARMS has two components a step test and a pushup test initially, it also had a lift component. Successfully completing these tests is meant to indicate that a recruit has the physical and motivational endurance needed to serve in the Army. The Army expanded the use of the ARMS test to eight additional MEPS in February 2006 and to the remaining 51 MEPS in April 2006. The decision to allow ARMS waivers nationwide was made in a difficult recruiting environment and at a time when the Army was seeking to grow active-duty end strength. The decision was also made with the knowledge that America s obesity epidemic was adversely affecting the supply of eligible recruits and with the belief that ARMS complements existing physical fitness tests used to identify individuals who will and will not fare well in the military. According to data available from the Military Entrance Processing Command, between 1988 and 2007, the mean body mass index BMI of Army male applicants increased from 23.8 to 24.9, and the mean BMI of female applicants increased from 22.3 to 23.9 Figures S.1 and S.2. Even-larger increases in BMI are apparent among the heaviest applicants. For example, BMI at the 75th percentile of the applicant BMI distribution increased from 26.1 to 27.7 for males and from 23.8 to 25.9 for females. BMI in the overall U.S. youth population increased by even more during this period Asch et al., 2009. The Army granted waivers to overweight and over body fat applicants who passed the ARMS test, hoping that this would increase enlistments without adversely affecting attrition and other measures of recruit readiness

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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