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    Army Expanding Course for Overweight and Low-Scoring Recruits in Bid to Fill the Ranks

    Army Expanding Course for Overweight and Low-Scoring Recruits in Bid to Fill the Ranks

    The 's pre-basic training courses for applicants who come up short on academic or body fat standards will expand this month as service leaders eye that effort as a potentially key tool to combating a crippling recruiting slump.

    Service leaders to add four additional companies following an initial pilot program that kicked off in August at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for recruits who had up to 6% more body fat than the Army allows or scored between 21 and 30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, test. Academic performance that low can prevent an applicant from enlisting or dramatically limit the jobs available to them.

    Two of the new companies will be at Fort Jackson, which will allow an additional 2,000 students per year to enter the academic program, and another two companies at Fort Benning, Georgia, though that base will offer only an academic for some 6,400 students per year.

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    The program, known as the Future Soldier Preparatory Course, is designed to expand the pool of eligible Americans who can join the service by creating short camps that help applicants reach Army standards. The service came up short of its recruiting goal last year, bringing in 45,000 new active-duty troops — well below its goal of 60,000. This year, the service is even more ambitious, seeking 65,000…

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