U.S. Army Recruiting Command announced recently it is looking for extremely fit soldiers to serve on a new fitness team aimed at attracting young Americans who are in the best shape to join the service.
A special unit, based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, is taking applications until Dec. 14 and hopes to select 10 elite soldier athletes who will form the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness team early next year.
The effort is part of the Army's new recruiting strategy, a dramatic reform push that emerged after the service missed its recruiting goal last year by 6,500 soldiers. The team will travel around the country, representing the Army at fitness competitions and health expositions.
"What do Army recruiters look for in people who are eligible to join the military? They look for people that are fit, physically capable ... mentally focused -- those are the go-getters that we look for," Master Sgt. Glenn Grabs, a certified functional fitness coach who is leading the effort, told Military.com.
Many soldiers already compete in athletic events at the local, regional and national level, Grabs said.
"They just don't necessarily compete under the Army's banner or represent the Army in these events," he said. "Once we get more publicity that the team is being stood up, I expect an overwhelming response of applicants to where the 10 that are selected will truly be elite athletes that will represent the Army very well."
Interested applicants should follow the directions for submitting an administrative packet on the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness webpage.
The packets, including career history, service records and letters of recommendation, as well as a resume itemizing "previous competition experience or what their athletic background is," will be screened to find up to 30 of the most qualified applicants, Grabs said.
"Once we actually narrow it down to what we identify as the most competitive among the applications, right now we shaping efforts to actually bring the applicants here to Fort Knox, tentatively say in February, to actually perform a workout with staff here," he said.
Finalists will also undergo interviews, "because we need these soldiers to be able to interact with the public, so we need them to be articulate and well-spoken," Grabs said.
After those interviews, "that's when the final selection will happen," he added.
Soldiers selected for the team will be stationed at Fort Knox for three years, according to an Army press release.
The effort aims to connect with the small but growing population of young people who engage in CrossFit and other types of functional fitness activities that are gaining popularity across the country, Grabs said, describing how the team will try to exemplify the Army's high-performance standards.
This summer, the service announced it will raise its physical standards by unveiling a new six-event Army Combat Fitness Test that will replace the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test in 2020.
The new team, however, will do a lot more than just compete in athletic competitions around the country, Grabs said.
"Say there is a competition going on in a particular city. The team will travel, say a week or two in advance, to that city," he said. "In that time, we will actually be working with local recruiting stations and school entities, whether it be high school or universities ... talking about elite performance. Whether they are talking about joining the Army or not, it just displays the Army and our fitness to the community."
The team will participate in health events and talk about competitive fitness, preparation and injury prevention, Grabs said.
The unit will also have a "very comprehensive social media effort that would also interact with the public ... to where it would share a lot of the athlete's Army lifestyle and to what serving in the military is like as far as training opportunities or the life of a soldier," he said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.