A Not So Lean Fighting Machine? Marine Corps Raises Weight Limits
Policy + Politics

A Not So Lean Fighting Machine? Marine Corps Raises Weight Limits

USMC/Cpl. Caitlin Brink

Imagined exchange at the Marine Corps training camp on Parris Island:

“Drop down and give me 20, fatso!”

“Who you callin’ fatso, drill sergeant? I’m within the new waistline guidelines.”

On its face, the news that the Marines have relaxed weight standards, especially for women, suggests that the obesity epidemic plaguing civilian Americans is now being accommodated by the military.

So much for a lean, mean, fighting machine, it would seem.

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But the changes announced by General Robert B. Neller, commandant of the Corps, are really more about recruits, and women in particular, bulking up rather than flabbing out.

Female Marines can now weigh an additional five to seven pounds more for each inch of their height, according to The Washington Post. The changes reflect that fact that building muscle to meet the Marines’ rigorous fitness requirements adds weight, according to The Marine Corps Times.

The service will monitor changes to weight limits, its combat fitness test and its physical fitness test for a couple of years and then adjust as needed, Neller said.

The announcement comes as women begin to move into combat roles, as ordered by Defense Secretary Ash Carter last year.