This isn’t new

Army rejects applicants with acne

My brother tried to join up for years. Continually rejected for acne. Did TA and all that, still couldn’t get into the regulars. Think he was a non com in the TA or reserves or some level of it all. As a qualified chef and doing the catering stuff that’s what they do I think – like Doctors always starting out as Captains.

Not acne as in the odd pimple, acne as in back stuff meaning that pack carrying was going to be difficult. Seems a decent enough reason to be turned down on medical grounds to be honest.

10 comments on “This isn’t new

  1. Closing fast on fifty years of age and still have to pass my fitness test every year, even as a part-timer whose likely wartime job is safely indoors, ashore in the UK, with no heavy lifting… you won’t wave the “disabled” card to get in. (To _stay_ in if you’ve demonstrated you’re useful, maybe, to an extent… but most of the EOD/WIS types maimed in action lost too much of too many limbs to be kept in)

    Believe it or not, at the coalface we’re keeping the standards out of the gutter. (They can’t be that high or they wouldn’t have let *me* in… but we’re no worse than, for instance, the mob of grumpy alcoholics we had as BAOR in the 1970s)

  2. @Jason Lynch. “They can’t be that high or they wouldn’t have let *me* in… but we’re no worse than, for instance, the mob of grumpy alcoholics we had as BAOR in the 1970s)”
    At the wrong side of 70, I resemble that remark. We grumpy alchy’s got on with it, but when BFT was brought in it cut into valuable drinking time. Ruined everything.

  3. For in theatre work as needed they also use other groups. Who don’t have the same fitness requirements, disability limitations or institutional rules.

    Providing location support, logistics protection and good old fashioned removal of problems. That last is very popular and strangely doesn’t require the person to have their initial limbs intact.

  4. From my experience and observation the Army got quite a shock with Iraq and especially Afghanistan and realised it needed to tighten up on fitness as there was nowhere to hide.

    In the ’70s and ’80s our job was to try to hold the Soviets back long enough for politicians to come up with a solution for whatever caused the Soviets to invade. We were expected to last 5 days at most and then it would be either stop where they were or nuclear war. We weren’t expecting to be fighting a lot of long infantry battles. It would be, at best, a fighting retreat and that’s what we trained for.

    There were plenty of places to hide the unfit, lame and lazy without it having too great an effect on battle readiness. NI was a problem but there was lots of time off between tours. Other conflicts were left largely to special forces with help from elite troops like the the Paras and Marines.

    After the Wall came down politicians quickly started reducing defence spending in order to buy votes with the peace dividend. Iraq 1 was a quick and relatively easy victory that didn’t expose too many weaknesses. By the time we got round to Iraq 2 the Army was quite exposed and sustained some fairly heavy losses. Basra was a wake up call.

    Fighting long wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan meant there was nowhere to hide the unfit, lame and lazy. We didn’t have enough troops to go round and there was little time for rest, recover and build up the headcount before they were thrown in to training and preparation for the next tour. Afghanistan in particular was brutal and took a heavy toll in both physical and mental casualties.

    It took a while but the Army changed the nature of its recruiting and training and made it quite clear that all units could be expected to fight. That was always the case but non-infantry regiments like the Signals and REME largely paid lip service to that requirement.

    This change can best be seen in Raw Recruits where all recruits undergo strenuous infantry training and are under no illusion as to their roles, before going off to join their units for trade training. When I joined military training as it was called was almost an afterthought behind trade training. I reckon in 3 years I did a lot less military training than they did in Raw Recruits.

    The reduced size of the Army means they have to be more selective and, as Jason says, they really can’t afford to let standards slip. Bear in mind those setting the standards and selecting recruits might have to serve with them in a hot war, they have an incentive to make sure those recruits are competent.

    Jason, what is the current BFT for a 50-year-old?

  5. BiND,

    Navy fitness test is basic, in two parts. There’s an aerobic fitness element – for the under-forty it’s either a 2,400m timed run or a “beep test” shuttle-run, over forty it’s meant to be the Rockport Walk (timed best effort, walking pace over a mile, wearing a heart rate monitor and the computer calculates your score). Times/scores extend with age but even near fifty you’ll not pass without at least some exercise or gym time. (Male times are a bit tighter than female, the intent is to get the same VO2 scores of ‘how efficiently your body takes up oxygen)

    Then there’s the strength test: take two 20kg weights, and run four 20m shuttles with them (run 20m, put them down, turn, pick them up, run back, repeat) in under… not sure but I think it might be 45 seconds. Gender and age independent – it represents one end of a stretcher, or two drums of AFFF firefighting foam, which don’t care who’s holding them.

    It’s applied a lot more tightly than it used to be. When I first signed up it was “get your RNFT done when you can, as long as you’ve made a vague attempt we’ll nod it through…” while after Op DEACON (the HMS Cornwall boarding-party incident) there was a top-to-bottom shakeout with a lot more ‘steely’ stuff.

    Same issues as you describe – it became clear that the safe jobs for the biffs and the broken had either been contracted out, or were already filled, and if you were wearing the Queyne’s uniform you might have to get a bit lively on occasion. We’re not all required to be steely-eyed death-dealers but, if the enemy is at the gates, we’re at least expected to be able to put up a noisy last stand (hey, it might keep some of us alive long enough to be rescued…)

  6. I remember seeing a killick on HMS Cornwall who was so fat he wouldn’t be able to get through a kidney hatch.

  7. Looking at the Times piece, it seems to be suggesting that the Capita jobsworths may be interpreting checklists too rigidly, so that rather than rejecting people for severe back acne that means they can’t carry a pack, they are rejecting spotty youths for whom it’s only a problem in impressing the ladies (and similar for other conditions).

    No idea whether this is true, but it’s a plausible negative outcome of moving from a discretion-based in-house system to a rule-based outsourced system.

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