Can't deploy? Military says see ya

Julia LeDoux
March 18, 2019 - 2:53 pm
Thousands of U.S. servicemembers removed from service because they are non-deployable.

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Grimes Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Combat Camera

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Twenty-one thousand. 

That's the number of non-deployable troops who have been booted from the nation's armed forces since the "deploy or get out" strategy was implemented last summer, according to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick J. Shanahan.

“A key element of strengthening our military and increasing lethality is ensuring our warfighters achieve established physical, mental and security vetting standards,” Shanahan said in his written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. “War is unforgiving, and our mission demands we remain a standards-based organization.”

Shanahan announced the Pentagon has lowered the percentage of non-deployable service members from 6.4 to 5.4 since the policy's inception last June.

“We encourage and welcome all individuals who can meet our exacting requirements to join our military’s ranks,” Shanahan wrote, adding that “one of those standards is deployability.”

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis devised the strategy in order to reduce the number of troops deemed ineligible for combat due to medical, physical or administrative issues. When the policy was announced last year, the Pentagon reported 11 percent of American forces, or 235,000 service members, were undeployable.

The policy came about as a way to motivate those who remain in uniform despite not being able to deploy to take the necessary steps to return to deployable status, according to Stars and Stripes. Service members who don't or can't make the necessary changes are warned that they may be booted from the military. 

Each service branch has its own deployability guidelines that combine physical readiness and administrative standards. The deploy or get out policy does not apply to everyone, including pregnant or post-partum service members and those who have been injured in combat.

“In upholding systemically applied standards," Shanahan said, "we ensure the readiness of our joint force and cohesion of our units."

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