Attrition: The Long And Short Of It


February 20, 2009: The Philippines have changed their recruiting standards in order to obtain more recruits with technical skills (computers, engineering, repair and maintenance). Thus if you have skills the military needs, and you were previously too short (1.64 meters for men, 1.6 meters for women), you can still get in if your are at least five feet (1.52 meters) tall.

Height limits have long been applied in military recruiting. It all has to do with being of the right size to handle standard military equipment. Seats in combat aircraft or tanks can only be adjusted so much. Rifles and machine-guns come in one size, and if you are too short, it's difficult to train you to use them effectively. Military bean counters also do not like the additional expense of stocking uniforms for very tall, and very short, people.

Some nations take advantage of the short stature problem. For decades, Russia built their tanks so that they worked best with short men inside. This allowed for the tanks to be, literally, smaller. This saved money and made the tanks harder to detect, and hit. Thus if you were over 1.7 meters (5 foot , 7 inches) tall, you would have a hard time fitting into a Soviet tank.

The development of effective body armor and all manner of useful sensors (night vision) and electronics (personal radio, GPS), also works against little guys, because all that gear is heavy. Big men have more muscle, and can haul a heavier load more effectively. But for a lot of support jobs (and less than ten percent of the army is infantry), height doesn't matter much. So the Philippines armed forces are being very practical about solving their geek recruiting problems.



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