Attrition: Sailors Prefer to be Fat and Happy


April 24, 2007: The U.S. Navy is in the midst of a downsizing, reducing its force levels by over 20,000 positions. Part of that is accomplished by raising standards for new recruits. But now it appears that some of those new recruits don't think they can keep it up. That has shown up in the reenlistment rates, which have declined for two years in a row. Only about 51 percent of eligible sailors reenlisted in 2006, and that appears to be sinking to 50 percent or less this year.

A major reason for the decline is more vigorous enforcement of the weight rules. Put on too many pounds and you can get thrown out of the navy. This was intended to help with the downsizing, and increase the general health levels of all sailors. More portly sailors get sick or injured more frequently. But a lot of hungry sailors, noting the booming civilian job market, are getting out. They would rather be fat and happy.


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