The U.S. Army has recruited only five soldiers aged 40 and older, and 324 people aged 35 and older, since the service raised its maximum enlistment age from 35 to 40 in January and from 40 to 42 in June this year, the USA Today newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing Army records.
To accommodate the older soldiers, the Army has lowered the minimum physical requirements needed to pass basic training.
For male recruits at the age extreme of 17 years old, the minimum physical requirements are 47 sit-ups, 35 push-ups and 16 minutes and 36 seconds for a 3.2-km run, while for male recruits at 41 years old, the requirements are 29 sit-ups, 24 push-ups, and 19 minutes and 30 seconds for a 3.2-km run.
To trace more recruits, the Army also offers shorter active-duty periods for some new soldiers, and signing bonuses for those who persuade others to join.
The U.S. Army has the military's highest age limit. The Navy's age limit is 35, and the age limit for the Air Force and the Marines is 27.
The Army, which provides most of the troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, missed its 2005 recruitment goal of 80,000 by 8 percent.