Pentagon Looks to Transform U.S. Infantry

The U.S. Military is considering a plan to revamp its fighting force through tighter recruiting standards and better pay. The Pentagon's Close Combat Lethality Task Force (CCLTF) is considering several recommendations, including raising the minimum age of infantry recruits to 26, and offering a $60,000 annual salary with bonuses of up to $250,000. The task force is also looking at finding recruits with specialized skills or abilities that apply directly to infantry work.

The possible changes come at a time of continued volatility in foreign affairs around the world, while U.S. military recruiting is down and the fitness of potential recruits is questioned. "What they're trying to do is increase the lethality of the force, because of anticipation it's going to be smaller," says Retired Gen. Bill McClain.

The idea behind raising the age of infantry recruits is to allow them to gather more life experience before enlisting, in order to bring a more mature presence to the force. "When you talk about 25 or 26, a lot of Army Rangers are younger than that, and a lot of them aren't," says McClain. "But when you get to the special forces, those guys are normally already that age or older."

Overall, Gen. McClain believes the recommendations add up to a bold plan that would also carry a big price tag, especially with the added pay and bonuses. "You get into this debate (in D.C.) over equipment modernization and weapons modernization of some sizable expense," he says. "Well, this would be a sizable expense."

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