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Obesity – Military



Readiness



Reduced military from health care costs prevents readiness to address future problems – terrorists, military alliances, and unknown threats


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 20, RK]

Finally, reducing America’s military would leave the nation with fewer troops to complete or continue the current conflicts of the day. Not only would America be less able to fend off future aggressors, but those currently in conflict with America might suddenly have the upper hand. On the contrary, one could argue that America may be involved in less armed conflict in the future, thus drastically reducing the need for such a vast military. An axiom that has remained constant throughout history, however, is man’s desire for war.106 With the rise of the Islamic State and the continued threat of a nuclear Iran and Al Qaeda associated forces, it is unlikely that America will see a significant reduction in fighting in the future.

Moreover, all of the above listed conflicts involve countries or person directly in conflict with America. But those directly at odds with America are not the only instances where the U.S. needs troops or utilizes it’s military. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military has routinely been utilized to combat individuals abroad that were not directly attacking or threatening America.107 For reasons mentioned earlier, it remains highly unlikely that this trend would suddenly change in the future. As such, the U.S. military will continue to be called upon to use force against nations or individuals not directly attacking America, many of which are currently unknown. Because unknown threats are inherently difficult to prepare for, it remains imperative to maintain a fluent and sufficiently funded military to adequately address future, hard to predict situations.

In sum, if the nation continues to increase in weight, health care spending will increase significantly, and one of the few places where budget money could come from to pay for these is the military. If that happens, it will make America less safe and more vulnerable to attack.

Military Recruitment



Growth in obesity prevents military recruitment – leads to vulnerability


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 5-6, RK]

From 1998 to 2008, the number of states reporting that 40 percent or more of young adults are overweight or obese has risen from one to 39.20 More specifically, since 1995, the proportion of potential U.S. military recruits who failed their physical exams because of weight issues has increased nearly 70 percent. 21 Currently, more than 25% of American men between the ages of 17-24 are not eligible for the military because they are too overweight. This last statistic is particularly troubling since "not everyone wants to be in the military, and when you reduce it by 25 percent, it's a real problem.”22

Currently, America needs 2.2 million soldiers combined between active duty (1.4 Million) and the reserves (840,000).23 Thus, America needs to recruit and enlist almost 200,000 new troops every year to maintain national security. 24 This, however, has become increasingly challenging, because 80% of United States military recruits are turned away.25 The “most common cause for rejection is simple: obesity.”26 In short, the pool from which the military may draw upon for recruits is nearly 30% smaller due to obesity.”27



This has taxed recruitment in a major way. Recruitment has already become more challenging for the U.S. military in recent years, as it has been strained by numerous major overseas operations: Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 20, 2003 – September 1, 2010), which transitioned into Operation New Dawn (September 1, 2010 – present), and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) – Afghanistan (October 7, 2001 – 2014).28 And though OEF has technically ceased in Afghanistan, American troops still remain, and will remain, present there for the foreseeable future.29 Moreover, there are recent discussions about adding more troops back into Iraq to deal with the mounting exigencies presented by the Taliban and ever rising Islamic State.30 As such, the need for American military troops is not likely to significantly diminish any time in the near future.

Moreover, America needs troops not just for its current, active military conflicts, but to be ready for those that have yet to begin. In 2014, Dr. Jonathan Woodson aptly stressed the necessity of a healthy military force that must be ready to deploy at any time in defense of the nation, but noted “[y]ou cannot do that if you are not healthy.”31 This is how and why losing so many potential recruits due to obesity hurts America’s future ability to defend itself. The United States has the highest rate of overweight males among all major countries, with almost 3 out of 4 adult American males being overweight or obese.32 And according to Major General Allen Batschelet, who is in charge of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, this is “most troubling because the trend is going in the wrong direction…by 2020 [American obesity rates] could be as high as 50%, which mean only 2 in 10 would qualify to join the Army…It's a sad testament to who we are as a society right now."33


Military Budget Trade-off



Continued health care crisis trades off detrimentally for military spending


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 18-19, RK]

D) Problems With Cutting The Military’s Budget To Pay For America’s Obesity Crisis In order to cover the increase in health care costs, a significant reduction in military spending would likely be necessary. Significantly reducing the military’s budget may not inherently be a negative outcome, though. Many people (including the author of this Article) feel the current military is probably too bloated and could benefit from less money and wiser allocation of resources. 103 However, such a focus misplaced. The point is not to debate whether or not military spending should be reduced, but rather the dangerous consequences if it has to be reduced. There is a difference between the federal government deciding, based on the current international and political landscape, that military spending can safely be reduced, versus forcibly shrinking the military because too many Americans are overweight or obese forcing unsustainably high health care costs.

Even the most ardent anti-military advocates and political theorists would have to admit that a forced, substantial reduction in military spending, amidst an already growing troop shortage problem, would likely weaken America for several reasons. First and most basically, America would have fewer troops available to defend itself from future attacks. The necessity of a healthy military, ready to deploy at any time in defense of the nation should not be underestimated. September 11, 2001 showed that people do not fear attacking mainland U.S. Reducing the military to the point where we would not be able to defend the nation could have the domino effect of emboldening America’s enemies, making them more likely to strike while America’s defense are depleted.

Continuing obesity trends cause detrimental cuts to programs


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 17-18, RK]

Of even greater concern, however, is what happens if America does not reverse the obesity trend and all of Americans are overweight or obese as projected? If the remaining 1/3 of Americans that are currently not overweight or obese become so, then the already too large Medicare and Health Care expenditures will likewise increase to keep pace. Hence the looming national security concern - where is that increase in spending going to come from? What program or programs are most likely to be cut in order to pay for America’s sick?

The most logical starting point for cutting is to examine the greatest expenditure. For America’s budget, that means Social Security and Unemployment and Labor. However, any such move would be extremely difficult to effectuate. It would take a massive, bipartisan collaboration, the likes of which America hasn’t seen in decades, to eliminate so called “entitlement” programs. This is in part because the baby boomer generation, which still comprises a large part of Congress, is unlikely to reduce benefits, such as social security, to themselves or their children. It is unwise to expect Congressmen to take the counterintuitive measure of voting to cut programs that reduce the amount of money they will receive in the future. 101

The remaining major non-military categories do not offer much relief for rising health care costs. Seven percent of the budget is used to pay off interest on the federal debt, which is a fixed cost. After that, the next highest cost is veteran’s benefits. Thus, like social security, one could conceivably cut veteran’s benefits, although even the smallest cuts are likely to face fierce backlash. 102 Even if one did cut veteran’s benefits, that still only amounts to 4.5% of the budget total. In sum, unless more drastic and unlikely measures are undertaken, the most logical choice to ensure America cares for it’s sick is to significantly reduce the 15.8% of the budget devoted to the military.

Military Cuts Risk Nuclear Insecurity



Military cuts risk unstable nuclear deterrence strategy and nuclear insecurity


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 19-20, RK]



America will undoubtedly retain enough nuclear weapons to sufficiently destroy/retaliate against any nation that attacks her. Currently, America has approximately 7,100 nuclear weapons available. 104 Thus, this Article is not saying that if America’s military budget is reduced, America would lose if Venezuela invaded and attempted to take over the country. America will likely maintain its nuclear capabilities to discourage/stop such an attack. But nuclear weapons as a primary defense have their limitations. Having the largest nuclear arsenal in the world did not prevent 9/11. Nor has it played a role in, much less ended, the war on terror. Individual groups and/or smaller factions require something less than nuclear bombs to defeat. Asymmetric warfare and on the ground guerilla tactics are often better utilized when fighting terrorist organizations, the type of enemy the U.S. is likely to face in the future.

Thus, even though America will likely retain nuclear preeminence in the world, to ward off relatively smaller in scale (but by no means small) attacks and attackers, America will likely need the rest of its military. Keeping nuclear weapons but reducing military spending on almost everything else would not be an effective national security strategy. On the other hand, an obesity necessitated reduction in budget, that leads to significant military cuts from the nuclear weapons program, would also be problematic. It is expensive to properly dispose of, and maintain effective safeguards in so doing, for thousands of nuclear weapons. Without the money to maintain and keep safe track of all of our nuclear weapons, one can imagine a sort of Wild West in which advanced nuclear materials and weapons are siphoned off to the highest bidder. One need only look to what has happened with some of the states in the former Soviet Union and the disorganized dismantling of its nuclear weapons program as a model the U.S. does not want to follow.105

Note – “her” describing US


AT – They Won’t Cut Military



If health care costs increase, Congress will be forced to cut military – other large expenditures are fixed and smaller programs not enough


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, 17-18, RK]

B) What to Cut As shown above, the two largest categories of government spending per year are on Social Security, Unemployment and Labor, and Medicare and Health Care.97 Those two comprise 60% of the budget, with the military being the next largest expenditure at 15.8%.98 The two next largest expenditures are interest on America’s outstanding debt (7%) and veteran’s benefits (4%). 99 Every other category of expenses comprises 3.5% or less of the federal budget.100

Thus, the above diagram provides a useful context for the growing health care expenditures. Currently, with over two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, onethird of America’s budget is spent on Medicare and Health Care. This is an alarming high amount and an unsustainable situation. America cannot sustain its current pace of health care expenditures.

Of even greater concern, however, is what happens if America does not reverse the obesity trend and all of Americans are overweight or obese as projected? If the remaining 1/3 of Americans that are currently not overweight or obese become so, then the already too large Medicare and Health Care expenditures will likewise increase to keep pace. Hence the looming national security concern - where is that increase in spending going to come from? What program or programs are most likely to be cut in order to pay for America’s sick?

The most logical starting point for cutting is to examine the greatest expenditure. For America’s budget, that means Social Security and Unemployment and Labor. However, any such move would be extremely difficult to effectuate. It would take a massive, bipartisan collaboration, the likes of which America hasn’t seen in decades, to eliminate so called “entitlement” programs. This is in part because the baby boomer generation, which still comprises a large part of Congress, is unlikely to reduce benefits, such as social security, to themselves or their children. It is unwise to expect Congressmen to take the counterintuitive measure of voting to cut programs that reduce the amount of money they will receive in the future. 101

The remaining major non-military categories do not offer much relief for rising health care costs. Seven percent of the budget is used to pay off interest on the federal debt, which is a fixed cost. After that, the next highest cost is veteran’s benefits. Thus, like social security, one could conceivably cut veteran’s benefits, although even the smallest cuts are likely to face fierce backlash. 102 Even if one did cut veteran’s benefits, that still only amounts to 4.5% of the budget total. In sum, unless more drastic and unlikely measures are undertaken, the most logical choice to ensure America cares for it’s sick is to significantly reduce the 15.8% of the budget devoted to the military.

AT – Smaller Military Good



Involuntary shrinking of military risks emboldening opposition and harm interests


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 9-10, RK]

As noted earlier, many elected officials and military leaders are concerned about not having enough troops in the military. But perhaps the premise is mistaken and the troop shortage is not a dilemma at all. Perhaps America’s decrease in enrollment and shrinking military is a positive development, one that should continue into the future.57 Thus, to some there may not be a troop shortage problem. The lack of troops is not a shortage but rather the antidote to an overly bloated military.

This argument, however, is flawed for a few reasons. It may appear America has too many troops in places that are not active combat zones. But the average American is not privy to the same high level and classified information as the military and elected officials. They simply know more because they have access to far greater levels of information. While it is not smart to blindly trust the military and America’s elected officials, with no accountability, it is equally unwise to presume that just because we cannot see the need for 50,000 troops in Germany, it does not mean there is no benefit to having them there.58

Second, even if one agrees that the military should have less troops, it is difficult to guarantee America’s safety if those troops were drastically reduced over the next decade. Cold zones can turn hot when opportunity presents itself. Any significant decrease in American troops, whether drastically or gradually over time, could produce the unintended consequence of emboldening known dangerous characters (the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, North Korea) as well as currently unknown threats. These unknown threats are the hardest to prepare for, but imagine the burglar who strikes not because his lifelong dream is to rob you, but rather you presented an easy target at that particular moment. It was more a crime of opportunity. Thus, if a strong troop presence remains, those opportunistic only threats, the ones we may currently be unable to even identify, remain at bay, unwilling to strike. But as soon as troop levels start significantly lowering across the world, one can imagine the emboldening effect it could have on those looking to harm America and her interests.

Finally, the argument is flawed because even if the military is bloated, and America could effectively defend herself and her interests worldwide with less troops, those choices should be made after careful analysis of the international scene. Global risk assessments should be undertaken to indicate a reduction is necessary. Relying on less troops to fight simply because America is too overweight and thus have no other choice is problematic, because if nothing else it lacks regulation and control.

For example, if the troop reduction was a result of careful assessments and geopolitical analysis, and the risk assessment calculations indicated America could sustain and be safe with less troops, then one could presumably reduce the troop level proportionately. One cannot, however, carefully reduce the troop size in a controlled manner, one consistent with recommendations based on research, if there are no recommendations based on research, but rather the troop reduction is involuntarily imposed because Americans are too large to support a sufficient military. The latter scenario, imposed by an obesity crisis, could bring troop levels down low enough that it makes America more vulnerable both home and abroad. Thus, for all of the foregoing reasons, an involuntary reduction in troop size would be problematic for the U.S. military.

Note – “her” describing US

AT – Lower Military Requirements



Lowering Requirements for military to solve obesity fails – ineffective during war and requires more resources


Williams, Western State College of Law professor, 16

[Ryan T. Williams, The University of Toledo Law Review, “Size Really Does Matter: How Obesity is Undermining America’s National Security,”, Fall, 2016, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 21, page 10-11, RK]

iii) Lower The Requirements One of the simplest potential solutions to the troop shortage problem based on obesity, is to lower the weight requirements. Allow people to join the military that weigh more and are in worse physical condition. The main advantage to allowing more people into the military is that it directly solves the troop shortage problem. It also may be plausible because perhaps the military’s weight and fitness requirements are outdated. Maybe technological advances have lessened the necessity for soldiers to be a healthy weight. Perhaps some could be less fit and still allow America to maintain an effective fighting force.

Intuitively, though, one may be concerned that the requirements to join the military are in place for a reason - necessity. Not everyone can qualify to be a firefighter, though if we lowered the requirements more people certainly could, but would that be smart? Maybe not, as they may be unable to do all the heavy lifting and body weight exercises, nor have the stamina required to be an effective firefighter.



Fortunately, with respect to lowering the military’s entrance requirements, we no longer have to analyze it’s efficacy in terms of hypotheticals because the military has already tried it. Starting in 2003, when America announced Operation Iraqi Freedom and invaded Iraq,59 American leaders quickly realized there were not enough troops to fight. The primary reason was so many were being disqualified due to being overweight or obese.60 Thus, because the military could not meet its recruitment goals during the Iraq war, it lessened the entry requirements and allowed applicants “who had more excess body fat than previously allowed” into the Army.61 To further assist in recruitment, Congress expanded the number of recruiters and also increased bonuses for new recruits.62

This experiment, however, was not a success. “The Army found that the overweight recruits were 47 percent more likely to experience a musculoskeletal injury (such as a sprain or stress fracture) and that more overweight recruits had to recycle back through boot camp.”63 It thus ending up costing America more time and money, as these heavier recruits got injured nearly 50% more of the time and had to retrain and retake boot camp. Put another way, because of their much higher incidence of injury and need to recycle through boot camp, they were less effective, weakening the American military during wartime. For example, many soldiers who were deployed during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were evacuated from the war zone not for combat injuries, but for sprains and fractures, which occurred mainly because “less-fit young men and women are at higher risk for these injuries.”64 One can make a colorable claim that the defense nation suffered when America utilized soldiers that were too overweight. Though there may be a way to lower the weight requirements and maintain a highly effective fighting force, the most recent attempts to do so have proved unsuccessful.

iv) Outsource the Military If lowering the entrance requirements is ineffective, and obesity continues to prevent the country from sustaining necessary troop levels with America’s continued involvement in combating threat such as ISIS, we may come to see an era where instead of replacing boots on the ground, the military either outsources those military jobs or replaces humans with machines. This has already occurred in the War on Terror where the U.S. increased its “outsourced activities to private military companies, (PMCs) which can recruit from a broader, international, labor pool.” 65 As with lowering the entrance requirements, this proposed solution also seemingly has several advantages. First, it could solve America’s troop shortage problem quickly, without Americans having to change. If there are not enough Americans to fight, then pay non-Americans to fight on our behalf. Because, as will be shown in the final section of the Article, solving America’s obesity problem is not an easy task. Another potential solution could be to rely more on technology. Perhaps technological advances have lowered the need for more troops Technology, such as drone strikes, solves the problem by lessening the number of military personnel that are necessary to maintain and effective fighting force. We do not need 50,000 troops with one-shot muskets if 1000 with machine guns will produce the same amount of firepower.



Yet outsourcing military tasks to PMCs is wrought with it’s own difficulties. One of the biggest drawbacks to outsourcing the military is it forces America to place its faith and security in other countries and private contractors. The infamous Blackwater incident in Iraq highlights the problematic nature of using private contractors to fight on America’s behalf. Blackwater proved to be “undisciplined, unaccountable bunch of mercenaries” at a cost of $2 billion dollars to the country.66 Further examination into both recent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan reveals that the problems with Blackwater were not isolated incidents, but rather emblematic of an overall system failure.

For example, in 2004 America reinvaded Iraq and was quickly faced with a troops shortage. “Weak public support became an acute issue in the U.S. during the Iraq War as military recruitment and reenlistment rates descended.67 In addition to lowering the entrance requirements to the military, government officials also increased the use of private contractors to fight on America’s behalf. The number of PMC personnel in Iraq steadily appreciated over several years and by 2007 there were 180,000 PMCs in Iraq compared with 160,000 U.S. troops.68 In 2008, the Congressional Budget Office reported that “the number of private contractors exceeded 190,000.”69 By 2012, U.S. Central Command estimated that of the contractors working in the region “40,110 were American citizens, 50,560 were from counties in the region, and 46,231 were not from the U.S. or from the region.”70 Having so many non-U.S., non-military personnel fighting on America’s behalf in Iraq proved problematic. Oversight of their activities was difficult, as was recording exactly everything they were doing and when. It also proved costly. The U.S. military occupation of Iraq formally ended in December 2011, “but not without U.S. taxpayers providing $138 billion for PMC operations.”71

The problems with PMCs continues in America’s other main area of combat as well, Afghanistan. In 2010, the Senate Armed Services Committee reported the findings of a year-long study of PMCs in Afghanistan.72 The investigation revealed two conclusions that exemplify the dangers of utilizing PMCs as a replacement for U.S. military troops. First, an alarming lack of oversight and enforcement of Department of Defense (“DoD”) procurement in Afghanistan generated “insufficiently trained and highly ineffective PSC [Private Security Company] personnel.”73 The Committee observed that “despite serious financial and ethical blemishes identified in auditing reports, the DoD took practically no steps to sanction irresponsible firms or remedy dubious contract performance.”74 Second, misconduct by PSCs in Afghanistan often went beyond poor performance, frequently involving outright delinquency.75 The Committee concluded that throughout Operation Enduring Freedom, “American PSCs engaged in bribery of local warlords linked to Taliban and other anti-Coalition activities.”76



Poor performances by those defending America weakens the nation, and potentially places more American lives in jeopardy. Worse still, poor performance and uncontrolled bribery are not the only problems with outsourcing the military. Subcontracting has also been an issue, as sometimes the PMC’s decide to hire other people, completely unvetted by any American officials, for import military functions. For example, the contractor ArmorGroup was hired to provide security in Afghanistan and on its own “subcontracted with Afghani strongmen to provide armed security forces used to protect the base.”77 Moreover, in addition to bribery and subcontracting, sometimes it is hard to track where the money goes period. For example, Afghani President Hamid Karzai noted that “U.S. taxpayers were indirectly funding ‘mafia-like groups' and terrorist activities with the American government's support of private contractors inside [Afghanistan].”78 America may not have been doing it on purpose, but by relying on PMCs, it resulted in funding the very people we continue to fight against.

Furthermore, in 2011, “the congressionally chartered U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC)--a body charged with monitoring and analyzing the state of PSC procurement--corroborated that wasteful spending and fraud have run rampant among American PSCs.”79 In sum, the totality of the evidence shows that outsourcing the military to private contractors is not the answer. Poorer performance, lack of institutional control and uncertainty have run rampant when using PMCs. The United Nations agrees. Due in large part to the failure of PMCs in Iraq and Afghanistan, in November 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Use of Mercenaries concluded that “‘[p]roviding security is a fundamental human right and a fundamental responsibility of the State”’ and indicated that governments worldwide must participate in efforts to implement a framework for “robust international regulation of private military and security companies.”80

With a shrinking pool of eligible recruits, the U.S. cannot afford to delegate military tasks to contractors that cannot be controlled or have the potential to create more problems overseas. As such, neither lowering the entrance requirements to the military nor outsourcing military functions to private companies makes America safer. As noted earlier, these are not hypothetical solutions to America’s troop shortage without dealing with obesity, but rather methods that were tried but failed. The result is America’s troop shortage due to obesity remains a national security problem.



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